Tom Atkins Adds The Sonnets Project to his Amazing Resumè
After appearing in The Detective, which starred Frank Sinatra, Tom Atkins remarked, “Frank was great. He was very easy to work with. He didn't like to do a lot of takes. But then it's not like we were doing Shakespeare.” Now Tom is doing Shakespeare and we’re the lucky recipients of his work in The Sonnets Project.
Tom began acting at Duquesne University in his hometown of Pittsburgh and began his professional career on the New York stage; he received the 1973 Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Performer for his work in David Storey's The Changing Room. He also appeared on Broadway in The Front Page and off-Broadway in Whistle in the Dark and Long Day's Journey Into Night, and in regional theaters across America, including six seasons at Long Wharf in New Haven, CT, and ten summers at Williamstown (MA) Theatre Festival.
After many appearances in TV series and movies, often playing police detectives, Atkins began specializing in horror and science fiction genres and he has worked with all the masters. He starred in two films directed by John Carpenter: The Fog and Escape from New York. He then took the leading role, Dr. Dan Challis, in the sequel Halloween III: Season of the Witch directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and produced by John Carpenter. He did further work with George A. Romero, appearing in the Romero-Stephen King project, Creepshow (1982), in the anthology, Two Evil Eyes (1990), based upon tales by Edgar Allan Poe; and Bruiser (2000).
He may be best remembered as Detective Ray Cameron, the “thrill me” guy in the 1986 cult horror film Night of the Creeps, a role Atkins calls his very favorite. He tells Classic-Horror magazine “It was the most fun film I've ever worked on,” and you can see that in this video collage.
He has continued to act in both the thriller and police procedural genre, too. He is well known to moviegoers for his role as Michael Hunsaker in Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon (1987), with Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Gary Busey. He also took a role in the action-thriller, Striking Distance (1993), alongside Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Tom Sizemore. In television, Atkins played Lt. Alex Diehl in the 1970s television series The Rockford Files with James Garner. He reprised his role of Commander Diehl for a series of Rockford Files movies in the 1990s.
Atkins has made numerous guest appearances on many popular television shows, including M*A*S*H, Baretta, Harry O, The Fall Guy, Xena: Warrior Princess, Walker, Texas Ranger, Oz, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Nowadays, he is a frequent player in shows in the Pittsburgh theatre scene, most famously in the one-man show The Chief at Pittsburgh Public Theater, in which he depicted the late founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney. He was also the star of A Musical Christmas Carol at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, portraying the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. In 2009, he performed Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten.
In 2009, he had a supporting role as a retired sheriff in the remake My Bloody Valentine 3Dand co-starred with Nicolas Cage in Todd Farmer's Drive Angry, in 2011 and he is scheduled to have a lead role in Patrick Lussier's Halloween 3D.