Esai Morales

Esai Morales

Birth name: Esai Manuel Morales, Jr.
Born: October 1, 1962
Age: 61
Birthplace: New York City, U.S.[2]
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Esai Manuel Morales, Jr. (born October 1, 1962) is an American actor. He played Bob Morales in the 1987 biopic La Bamba. He also appeared in the PBS drama American Family and in the Showtime series Resurrection Blvd. He is best known for his roles as Lt. Tony Rodriguez on NYPD Blue, Joseph Adama in the science fiction television series Caprica, and Camino del Rio in the Netflix series Ozark.

Of Puerto Rican descent, Morales was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Esai Morales, Sr., a welder, and Iris Margarita (née Declet), a union activist involved with the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.[3] Morales began his pursuit of an acting career by attending the School of Performing Arts in Manhattan.[4]



His first professional performances were in theater and television in New York. His first film was Bad Boys (1983), about rival teenagers sentenced to a juvenile correction facility. Morales appeared in a 1985 episode of the TV series Fame. He co-starred with Burt Lancaster in the 1986 NBC miniseries On Wings of Eagles, playing the Iranian Rashid, the hero of a true story about Ross Perot. Morales also appeared in Miami Vice, The Equalizer, and 24.

He played Bob Morales, the real-life ex-convict and biker half-brother of 1950s rock and roll singer Ritchie Valens, in La Bamba (1987).

Some of his other roles have reflected his socio-political interests, such as The Burning Season in 1994, My Family/Mi Familia in 1995, The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca (1997) and Southern Cross (1999).[5] In the latter three films, as well as in others such as Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989) and Rapa Nui (1994), Morales saw increased amounts of screen time, starting with a role in the Pauly Shore film In The Army Now (1994). He portrayed a police officer in the film Dogwatch (1996) and Father Herrera in The Virgin of Juarez (2006).[6]

In the 1990s, he guest-starred on episodes of The Outer Limits, Tales from the Crypt, and two shorter-lived series, L.A. Doctors and The Hunger. He appeared in a two-part episode of Family Law in 2000. He was part of the main cast of the long-running series NYPD Blue for three and a half seasons, from 2001 to 2004, as the head of the 15th precinct detective squad.

He played a drug dealer named Lulu in the 2002 film Paid in Full. In 2005, he was a voice actor in the video game True Crime: New York City, playing Sgt. Victor Navarro.

Morales (right) with Grace Park (left) and Eric Stoltz (center)

Morales was cast in the film American Fusion (2005),[7] and on June 19, 2006, he joined the cast of the Fox series Vanished, as FBI agent Michael Tyner; the series ran for one season.[8] In 2007, Morales appeared in an episode of the USA Network drama series Burn Notice, as a Cuban shopkeeper being shaken down for "protection" money by local criminals. In early 2008, Morales had a role in the CBS drama Jericho, as Major Edward Beck. He appeared in all seven episodes of the shortened second season That same year, he appeared in Kill Kill Faster Faster, a film noir based on the novel of the same name by Joel Rose.

In May 2008, it was announced that Morales would play the role of Joseph Adama in the science fiction television series Caprica – Syfy's prequel to the series Battlestar Galactica.[9][10] The series, though highly anticipated, only ran for one season in 2010. In 2009, he served as an official festival judge for the Noor Iranian Film Festival in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

In 2011, Morales starred in the drama film Gun Hill Road as Enrique,[11] and in the web drama Los Americans airing on[12] and Morales worked with Tony Plana, Yvonne DeLaRosa, Lupe Ontiveros, and JC Gonzalez in Los Americans, an Internet program launched in May 2011. In March 2015 Robert Rodriguez cast him as Lord Amancio Malvado for the horror drama series From Dusk till Dawn: The Series.,[13]

In 2017, Morales was cast in the Netflix original series Ozark. He was also cast in How to Get Away with Murder, as Jorge Castillo.

Awards and honors

In 2005, Morales (along with Mercedes Ruehl) received the Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA).

He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arpa Foundation for his impact as an actor and role model.


Morales has described himself as an "actorvist",[14] primarily as one of the founders of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, taking inspiration from his mother, who was an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.[15] He is also interested in environmental issues and was a founding board member of E.C.O. (Earth Communications Office).[16]

In a February 28, 2007, all-star benefit reading of The Gift of Peace at UCLA's Freud Playhouse, he portrayed a hopeful member of a struggling immigrant family, performing alongside actors Ed Asner, Barbara Bain, Amy Brenneman, George Coe, Wendie Malick, and James Pickens, Jr.. The play was an open appeal and fundraiser for passage of U.S. House Resolution 808, which sought to establish a Cabinet-level "Department of Peace" in the U.S. government, to be funded by a two percent diversion of the Pentagon's annual budget.[17]

Personal life

Morales is a vegetarian.[18] He and his girlfriend Elvimar Silva had a daughter, Mariana Oliveira, on September 24, 2010.[19]

Morales' first name is frequently used in crossword puzzles, because its rare construction makes it a prize for crossword constructors (it is a four-letter word in English that is 75 percent vowels, including the first and last letters). One crossword clue website estimated that between 1994 and 2016, "ESAI" had been used as a crossword answer over 100 times in American papers such as The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.[20]



Year Title Role Notes
1982 Forty Deuce Mitchell
1983 Bad Boys Paco Moreno
1986 On Wings Of Eagles Rashid
1986 Rainy Day Friends Neekos Valdez
1987 La Bamba Roberto "Bob" Morales
1987 The Principal Raymi Rojas
1989 Bloodhounds of Broadway Handsome Jack
1990 Naked Tango Zico Borenstein
1990 Amazon Jack Uncredited
1992 Ultraviolet Nicholas Walker
1992 Freejack Ripper
1993 The Waiter Julius
1993 Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun Kenny Direct-to-video
1994 Rapa Nui Make
1994 Don't Do It Charles
1994 In the Army Now Sgt. Stern
1995 My Family Chucho
1996 Livers Ain't Cheap Collin
1996 Death in Granada Ricardo
1996 The Real Thing Collin
1996 Dog Watch Murrow Direct-to-video
1996 Scorpion Spring Astor
1997 The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca Ricardo Nominated Alma Award
1998 The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit Dominguez
1999 Southern Cross Philip Solano
2000 American Virgin Jim the Director
2000 Spin Cycle Nickens
2000 Doomsday Man Mike Second unit director
2002 The Adventures of Tom Thumb & Thumbelina Vergas Mouse (voice) Direct-to-video
2002 Paid in Full Lulu
2005 Once Upon a Wedding Pineda
2005 American Fusion Jose VC Film Fest Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Best Actor Award Winner
2006 The Virgin of Juarez Father Herrera
2006 Fast Food Nation Tony
2006 How to Go Out on a Date in Queens Frankie
2008 Kill Kill Faster Faster Markie
2008 La Linea Pelon
2010 Cherry Wes
2010 King of the Avenue Natas
2011 Gun Hill Road Enrique FilmOut San Diego, US Best Actor Award Winner
2012 Atlas Shrugged: Part II Francisco d'Anconia
2012 Seattle Superstorm Tom Reynolds
2013 Playin' for Love Principle Jose Martin
2014 Jarhead 2: Field of Fire Captain Jones Direct-to-video
2015 Spare Parts Mr. Santillan Nominated Imagen Foundation Award Best Supporting Actor
2016 Never Back Down: No Surrender Nego Vega Direct-to-video
2018 Superfly Adalberto Gonzalez
2018 Rise of the Avengers Francisco Calderon


Year Title Role Notes
1984 ABC Afterschool Special Miguel Rados Episode: "The Great Love Experiment"
1985 The Equalizer Officer Miguel Canterra Episode: "Lady Cop"
1985 Fame George Episode: "Savage Streets"
1985-1987 Miami Vice Pete Romano/Felipe Cruz 2 episodes
1986 On Wings of Eagles Rashid TV mini-series
1989 The Twilight Zone Jesse Cardiff Episode: "A Game of Pool"
1991-1992 The Legend of Prince Valiant n/a (voice) 2 episodes
1992 Bay City Story Jim Duran TV movie
1994 The Burning Season Jair TV movie
1994 Tales from the Crypt Puck Episode: "The Bribe"
1995 Deadlocked: Escape from Zone 14 Tony Archer TV movie
1996 Dying to Be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Pena Story Federico Peña TV movie
1997 The Outer Limits Frank Kelton Episode: "Heart's Desire"
1997 The Hunger Tony Episode: "I'm Dangerous Tonight"
1998 Adventures from the Book of Virtues Guillermo (voice) Episode: "Charity"
1998 Circle of Deceit Jeff Silva TV movie
1999 L.A. Doctors Vince Duralde Episode: "The Life Lost in Living"
1999 Atomic Train Noris MacKenzie TV movie
2000 A Family in Crisis: The Elian Gonzales Story Juan Miguel Gonzalez TV movie
2000 Family Law Mr. Santiago Episode: "Telling Lies, Conclusion"
2000-2002 Resurrection Blvd. Paco Corrales 7 episodes
2001-2004 NYPD Blue Lt. Tony Rodriguez Series regular; 66 episodes

Outstanding Actor in a Television Series Alma Award Winner

2002 American Family Esteban Gonzalez 8 episodes

Nominated Prism Award

Nominated Imagen Foundation Award Best Actor in a supporting role

2002 George Lopez Manny Lopez Episode: "Who's Your Daddy?"
2002-2003 Dora the Explorer Papi (voice) 5 episodes
2004 Sudbury n/a TV movie
2005 Heartless Rick Benes/David Lopez TV movie
2005 Freddie Carlos Episode: "The Courtship of Freddie's Father"
2005 Behind the Mask of Zorro Narrator TV documentary (co-producer)
2006 Company Town Ray Dupre TV movie
2006 Vanished Michael Tyner 11 episodes
2006 Jurukan Guest 1 episode
2007 The Cure Jorge TV movie
2007 24: Day 6 Debrief Agent Jorge Ramirez 5 episodes
2007 Burn Notice Ernie Paseo Episode: "Broken Rules"
2008 Jericho Major Edward Beck 7 episodes

Nominated Alma Award

2009-2010 Caprica Joseph Adama Series regular; 18 episodes
2010 CSI: Miami Stephen Madsen Episode: "All Fall Down"
2011 Los Americans Lee Valenzuela 8 episodes (producer)
2011 Fairly Legal D.A. Aaron Davidson Episode: "Bo Me Once"
2011 Seattle Superstorm Tom TV movie
2011 17th Precinct Liam Butterfield TV movie
2011 We Have Your Husband Eduardo Valseca TV movie
Nominated - Image Award
2012 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Jimmy Vasquez Episode: "Home Invasions"
2012 Hola Guest 1 episode
2013 Major Crimes Deputy Diaz Episode: "Jailbait"
2013-2015 Criminal Minds[21] Section Chief Mateo "Matt" Cruz 6 episodes
2013 Teachers Manny TV Movie
2013 Magic City Carlos "El Tiburon" Ruiz 6 episodes
2014 Cleaners Father Brooks 3 episodes
2015 The Brink President Julian Navarro Series regular; 10 episodes
2015 From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series Lord Amancio Malvado Series regular; 8 episodes
2015 Mozart in the Jungle Juan Delgado 2 episodes
2015-2016 Blue Bloods Sgt. Trey Delgado 2 episodes
2016 L.A. Series El Mono TV Movie
2016 Casa Vita Rodrigo Vita TV Movie
2016 Hit the Floor Detective TV Special
2016-present How To Get Away With Murder Jorge Castillo 8 episodes
2017 Chicago P.D. Police Chief Lugo 5 episodes
2017 Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders Section Chief Mateo "Matt" Cruz Episode: "La Huesuda"
2017 Ozark Camino Del Rio Series regular; 4 episodes
2017 Adam Ruins Everything Alfonso Episode: "Adam Ruins Immigration"
2018 NCIS: LA Louis Ochoa 2 episodes

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2005 True Crime: New York City Captain Victor Navarro voice

Esai Morales supports the following charitable causes: Smoking & Smoking-Related Illnesses, Environment.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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