Acting on Big Dreams
Alum Bill Fichtner’s love of acting began during an improv class at Brockport and led to a career in Hollywood, including roles in The Dark Knight, Armageddon, and Prison Break.
Actor William Fichtner is known by Western action movie lovers as Butch Cavendish, the villain and murderous ringleader of a band of outlaws in The Lone Ranger. Superhero fans know him best for his portrayal of the manager of Gotham National Bank in The Dark Knight. Some were introduced to Bill recently by tuning in to the CBS series Mom, which promoted him to a series regular as Bonnie’s season-4 suitor this past summer. His roles in Black Hawk Down, Armageddon, Contact, and The Perfect Storm are among his most memorable movie appearances. But SUNY Brockport community recognizes Bill for more than his 75 movie and television credits; it proudly celebrates him as an eminent member of its Class of 1978.
During Bill’s junior year, he received a call from an academic advisor informing him that he had yet to fulfill one of two required Fine Arts courses in order to graduate. Enticed by the intimate class size, he opted to enroll in an improvisation class taught by Professor Sally Rubin, who is now an award-winning documentary film producer and editor.
“It was Sally who encouraged me to consider continuing the journey of acting, and to have the confidence to reach something deep within that I didn’t know I had,” Bill said.
Within the confines of campus, Bill’s passion for performance came to light. He recalls that, back then, he did not imagine that his newly explored acting talent would become the basis for a career. But he considers his experiences on campus to be the “beginning of dreaming” about such a prospect.
Almost 40 years and a myriad of performances later, Bill continues to impress fans, co-stars, and the directors who recurrently cast him in feature films and award-winning television shows. The East Meadow, NY, native has an aptitude for assimilating into diverse roles.
“[It’s rewarding] to explore the human experience through characters, and in turn hopefully give meaning that would make a difference to those watching,” Bill expressed. He compares his acting career to the student experience. “[It’s something] I strive to be better at…and it is massively fulfilling.”
At home, Bill enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, watching movies, and rooting for the Buffalo Bills and Sabres. He has recently performed in a number of smaller-budget indie films, which he hopes will “find a home at exciting film festivals.”