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Robert Knepper Biography

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Birth Name: Robert Knepper
Birth Place: Fremont, Ohio, USA

Born on July 8, 1959 in Fremont, OH and raised in nearby Maumee, Knepper's father was a veterinarian while his mother exposed him to the acting world through her job working in the prop department of a local community theater. Throughout his youth, Knepper performed in numerous community theater and high school productions before attending Northwestern University as a drama major in 1977. During his time in college, he landed professional roles in several Chicago plays, only to quit school and move to New York City to immerse himself in his career further. Intending to be a theater actor, Knepper eventually moved toward the screen in 1986 with an episode of "The Paper Chase" (Showtime, 1983-86), before guesting on the pilot episode of "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994) as Georgia Buckner, a secretarial candidate who reveals that he is a transsexual - a role Knepper repeated several times throughout the show's run. Graduating to features, he was the title character in "Wild Thing" (1987), an urban fantasy about a feral, Tarzan-esque crime fighter.

After guest starring on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (syndicated, 1987-1994), Knepper had supporting roles in a pair of features, "D.O.A." (1988) and "Renegades" (1989), starring Keifer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips. In his first regular series role, he played zoologist Dr. Peter Roland on "E.A.R.T.H. Force" (CBS, 1990), which lasted a scant three episodes before being summarily canceled. That same year, he played a sheriff's deputy in "Young Guns II" (1990) and followed up with a turn as a traveling geologist who comes romantically entangled with a teenage girl (Ione Skye) in Allison Anders' breakthrough coming-of-age drama ""Gas Food Lodging" (1992). Following a turn as a rock singer in "Where the Day Takes You" (1992), Knepper had guest spots on "China Beach" (ABC, 1988-1991), "Law and Order" (NBC, 1990-2010) and "Red Shoes Diaries" (Showtime, 1992-97) before returning to features in the broad comedy "Search and Destroy" (1995) and Woody Allen's musical "Everybody Says I Love You" (1996).

Knepper landed meatier roles as a heroin-addicted father in the indie feature "Under Heat" (1996) and a lust-minded smuggler in the TV movie "Kidnapped in Paradise" (1999), while maintaining a steady schedule of guest spots, playing a muckraking movie producer in a 2001 episode of "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006) and disturbed villain in many episodes of "La Femme Nikita" (USA Network, 1997-2001). From there, he made an impression as an eccentric spy boss on the short-lived action series "Thieves" (ABC, 2001), before portraying Robert F. Kennedy in the miniseries "Jackie, Ethel, Joan: The Women of Camelot" (2001). After being the last of nine miners to be rescued from a flooded cavern in the made-for-TV movie "The Pennsylvania Miners' Story" (2002), Knepper had a recurring role as Dana Delaney's husband on the short-lived hospital drama "Presidio Med" (CBS, 2002-03). On the mysterious, sometimes confusing "Carnivale" (HBO, 2003-05), he was reporter Tommy Dolan, who doggedly pursues the story of the seemingly possessed Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown). After a turn as a hostage negotiator in the suspense thriller "Hostage" (2005), he had a small, but memorable turn as an investigator for Senator Joseph McCarthy in George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" (2005).

Finally, after years of struggling to find that one defining part, Knepper landed a regular series role as Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell, a swaggering, scheming sexual predator on the hit series, "Prison Break" (Fox, 2005-09). As the leader of a white supremacist group, T-Bag was one of the shows more disturbing villains and allowed Knepper to sink his teeth into a role that often took center stage. During his run on the hit show, Knepper was one of the Russian agents hunting down Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) in "Hitman" (2007) before playing supporting roles in the sequel "Transporter 3" (2008) and the doomsday blockbuster "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (2008). Back on the small screen, he was Samuel Sullivan, an archvillain with the ability to literally move the Earth on the fifth and final season of "Heroes" (NBC, 2006-2010). Following episodes of "Stargate Universe" (Syfy, 2009-2011), "Chase" (NBC, 2010-11) and "Criminal Minds" (CBS, 2005- ), Knepper reprised T-Bag for an episode of "Breakout Kings" (A&E, 2011-12), a show created by the same team behind "Prison Break." Playing yet another real-life character, he portrayed Frank Sinatra in the French-made biopic "My Way" (2012), before landing a regular role on the supernatural themed "Cult" (The CW, 2013- ).

By Shawn Dwyer