The Steppenwolf ensemble, the longest-existing theatre ensemble in the United States, now totals 42 members.
"We are delighted to welcome our long-time friend, William Petersen, into the Steppenwolf ensemble," stated Steppenwolf artistic director Martha Lavey. "Billy was one of the founding members of Chicago's Remains Theatre, an ensemble theatre that, like Steppenwolf, helped define the storefront theatre life of Chicago in the 1980s. He currently appears in Steppenwolf's Dublin Carol and previously appeared in our productions of Balm in Gilead and Fool for Love. We are delighted that Billy is a friend from our past, present and a part of our future."
Petersen has worked in theatre, television and film. He is currently starring in Steppenwolf's special engagement of Dublin Carol through Jan. 4, 2009. In 1979 Petersen founded the Remains Theater Ensemble in Chicago with a group of fellow actors, including current Steppenwolf ensemble members Gary Cole and Amy Morton. In 1983 he starred as Jack Henry Abbott in In the Belly of the Beast, which he performed at the Wisdom Bridge Theater in Chicago, at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. In 1996 Petersen made his Broadway debut in a revival of Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana. He has appeared in a number of regional stage productions including Dublin Carol, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Time of Your Life, Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the-Plow. He serves as executive producer on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and was nominated in 2004 for a Golden Globe Award for his portrayal of Gil Grissom, the lead investigator. His other television credits include "Long Gone," "The Rat Pack," the Golden Globe Award-winning mini-series "The Kennedys of Massachusetts" and "The Beast." His feature film credits include "To Live and Die in L.A.," "Manhunter," "Cousins," "Young Guns II," "Fear," "The Contender" and the films "Hard Promises" and "Keep the Change," both of which he also produced. Petersen was born in Evanston, IL, and studied acting in Spain.
The 42-member Steppenwolf ensemble includes Joan Allen, Kevin Anderson, Alana Arenas, Randall Arney, Kate Arrington, Ian Barford, Robert Breuler, Gary Cole, Kathryn Erbe, K. Todd Freeman, Frank Galati, Francis Guinan, Moira Harris, Jon Michael Hill, Tim Hopper, Tom Irwin, Ora Jones, Terry Kinney, Tina Landau, Martha Lavey, Tracy Letts, John Mahoney, John Malkovich, Mariann Mayberry, James Vincent Meredith, Laurie Metcalf, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Austin Pendleton, Jeff Perry, William Petersen, Yasen Peyankov, Martha Plimpton, Rondi Reed, Molly Regan, Anna D. Shapiro, Eric Simonson, Gary Sinise, Lois Smith, Rick Snyder, Jim True-Frost and Alan Wilder.
"Committed to the principle of ensemble performance through the collaboration of a company of actors, directors and playwrights, Steppenwolf Theatre Company's mission is to advance the vitality and diversity of American theatre by nurturing artists, encouraging repeatable creative relationships and contributing new works to the national canon," according to the mission statement. "The company, formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, is dedicated to perpetuating an ethic of mutual respect and the development of artists through on-going group work. Steppenwolf has grown into an internationally renowned company of 42 artists whose talents include acting, directing, playwriting, filmmaking and textual adaptation." For additional information visit www.steppenwolf.org.
Steppenwolf is currently represented on Broadway by the Tony Award-winning production of August: Osage County at the Music Box.