Born on this day in 1965, Jeffrey Wright’s long list of characters ranges from a straight-laced attorney in Presumed Innocent to the tortured street artist Jean Michel Basquiat in Julian Schnabel’s biopic of the ’80s pop art icon. Wright’s awards have an equally expansive range, from Tony to Golden Globe to Emmy—all for his acclaimed turn as the gay nurse, Belize, in the stage and TV adaptations of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Having worked steadily in both film and theater since the early 1990s, Wright has established himself as one of the most talented—though sadly underappreciated—actors of his generation. His latest film roles include Syriana, The Manchurian Candidate and Casino Royale.

Quotable: “The white cracker who wrote the National Anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word ‘free’ to a note so high nobody could reach it. That was deliberate.” Jeffrey Wright as Belize in Angels in America.