Gary DourdanDec 11, 1966, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Born in Philadelphia, PA on Dec. 11, 1966, Dourdan was raised by his creative-minded mother, a fashion designer, and father, an agent who represented jazz musicians. Dourdan was the youngest child in a family of five; a mixture of various ethnicities including, among others, African, European and Indian. As a child, he excelled in music, playing a variety of instruments including piano, guitar and saxophone - the latter of which was introduced to him through his uncle, a former sax player for local disco sensation Sister Sledge of "We are Family" fame. When Dourdan was six years old, the family was dealt a crushing blow when oldest brother Darryl, then 23, went to Haiti to research the family lineage and was pushed off a motel balcony to his death. The crime was never solved.Into his youth, the family moved to the suburb of Willingsboro in southern New Jersey. Dourdan continued an eclectic set of interests in acting, martial arts, music and breakdancing. He enrolled in the Freedom School, where he focused more on acting, before later attending John F. Kennedy High School. Dourdan dropped out of Kennedy High, after which his uncle coaxed the young musician to make his way to New York after stints playing rock music in Jersey and Miami. By 1986, he was working as a doorman at a rehearsal facility that housed the projects of filmmakers, musicians and avant-garde artists - one of many jobs, including working as a chef - which he held to support his dreams.Dourdan soon began studying with acting coach legend Lee Strasberg, and by the end of the 1980s, began performing in off-Broadway plays. While his career was on the right track, his personal life began to veer off course when he began relying on drugs and alcohol to help cope with his brother's death. Eventually, Dourdan was able to rid himself of his substance abuse problems. Meanwhile, his start on television seemed promising. After meeting "A Different World" (1987-1993) producer Debbie Allen in Paris, Dourdan was cast in the role of Shazza Zulu, a recurring gig he played for over two seasons. Dourdan was then plucked by pop star Janet Jackson to be the object of desire in the 1993 video for her single "Again." From there, he landed a steady degree of work, but yearned for meatier roles. He popped up in "The Good Fight" (Lifetime, 1992), then the HBO miniseries "Laurel Avenue (1993). A year later, he segued back into primetime on the cop drama "New York Undercover" (Fox, 1994-98) and "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (ABC, 1993-97).Dourdan found good roles in features hard to come by, doing small turns in "Weekend at Bernie's II" (1993) and Ron Howard's "The Paper" (1994). By the mid 1990s, Dourdan landed a pilot for "The Office" (CBS, 1994-95), playing Bobby, a creative whiz who helps maintain a small company office. Despite hitting the air as a midseason replacement in 1995, "The Office" was gone from the lineup in a matter of weeks. But Dourdan had already moved on to shooting the theatrical basketball drama "Sunset Park" (1996). Switching gears, Dourdan quickly snatched up another series regular role on "Swift Justice" (UPN, 1995-96), an edgy cop drama that managed to stick around for a few months before getting the network axe.In his off time, Dourdan always had a way to keep busy, continuing to play music in rock bands like The Bell Café Band. In 1996, Dourdan landed the role of Yates in the Touchstone Pictures-based action drama "Playing God" (1997), then was part of a six-month shoot in Los Angeles for the largely derided "Alien: Resurrection" (1997). After filming the independent drama "Thursday" (1998), Dourdan saw the release of "Playing God" in October 1997, which was soon followed by "Alien: Resurrection." Despite an underwhelming critical and financial response, Dourdan's high-action role as a prime member of Ripley's team of alien hunters brought heavy visibility. But the first couple of years after "Alien" were not as fruitful as he had hoped; prompting him to focus on music in New York instead.Dourdan later decided to return to television, this time with better results. In 2000, he appeared in the ABC movie "Muhammad Ali: King of the World," taking on the formidable role of the iconic Malcolm X. Back in features, Dourdan headlined the independent drama thriller "Trois" (2000), then appeared in Reggie Bythewood's Hollywood drama "Dancing in September" (2000). By April 2000, Dourdan had been recruited for the crime procedural, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Picked up for the fall season, the series revolved around a forensics investigating unit in Las Vegas, with Dourdan playing Warrick Brown, a smart, complex and moody investigator with a shaky past as a gambler. The show quickly took off with critics and viewers, later paving the way for two successful "CSI" spin-offs.As part of a dramatic ensemble, Dourdan and his castmates were acknowledged with Screen Actors Guild Award nominations in successive ceremonies between 2002 and 2005, with the team finally taking home the statue in 2005. Dourdan himself was singled out by NAACP's Image Awards for nominations five years running, between 2002-07. In 2003 and 2006, he won his category as "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series." He next essayed another real-life political figure, Black Panther George Jackson, in "Black August" (2003). With little time for outside screen work beyond his day job, he made an appearance as Captain Burke in the oft-reshot sci-fi thriller "Imposter" (2002). In 2006, Dourdan co-starred opposite Halle Berry as her on-again, off-again boyfriend in the thriller "Perfect Stranger" (2007), but it was his successful stint on "CSI" that he always comfortably returned to.That was, until early 2008 when it was announced that Dourdan would leave the show which had made him a star. In the season finale, a crooked officer shot his character twice in the neck. A show source said it was common knowledge that Dourdan's contract was up at the end of the season, but rumors swirled as to why the sudden departure. To make matters even worse, after attending the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in the Palm Desert, Dourdan was arrested by police after being found sleeping in his car on the wrong side of the street and for having on his person, several illegal narcotics. The actor was promptly charged with possession of cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy and released on $5,000 bail. After an "embarrassing" month, Dourdan plead guilty to counts of cocaine and Ecstasy (the heroin charge was dismissed) and learned he would face no prison time. Instead, of doing time for three years, eight months as the initial charges called for, he was given a 16-class diversion drug treatment program.