“You step outside, you risk your life. Take a drink of water, you risk your life. You don’t have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you’re risking it for!”
Actor Scott Wilson was born on March 29, 1942, in Atlanta, Georgia. Over his long career, Wilson has acted in nearly 50 films. He’s known for playing Harvey Oberst in the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night, and killer Dick Hickok in Richard Brooks’s 1967 film adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. After numerous appearances as a character actor in television dramas, Wilson landed the role of zombie killer Dr. Hershel Greene on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Actor Scott Wilson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 29, 1942, to parents Jewel and Thomas Wilson. He attended his first three years of high school in Atlanta, but graduated in 1960 from Thomasville High School when his mother moved the family to her hometown 200 miles south of Atlanta after the death of his father Thomas Wilson.
Wilson enrolled at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia, on an athletic scholarship, but left due to health issues. In 1961, when he was 19 years old, he impulsively hitchhiked to California and enrolled in acting classes there. Five years later, he was cast in the film In the Heat of the Night (1967), co-starring with Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier. The movie won four Academy Awards, including for best picture.
Some say that his resemblance to the real-life killer led Wilson to win the role of Dick Hickok in Richard Brooks’s 1967 film adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Due to the film’s dark popularity, Wilson made the cover of LIFE magazine in 1967, along with co-star Robert Blake and author Capote, depicting the three men standing on a desolate stretch of highway in Kansas.
Other film credits include The Gypsy Moths (1969); The Great Gatsby (1974); The Ninth Configuration (1980), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe; and The Right Stuff (1983). In 1984, Wilson tied with another actor for the best actor honor at the Cartagena Film Festival in Colombia for his work in On the Line. The actor’s later works include Dead Man Walking (1995), Pearl Harbor (2001), Monster (2003) and Junebug (2005).
Wilson’s character acting won him guest spots on several television dramas, including The X-Files, The Twilight Zone and CSI. He portrayed Elvis’s father in the TV movie Elvis and the Colonel: The Untold Story in 1993, and a governor from Wyoming in The Jack Bull in 1999. In 2007, he played Reverend Potter on the TNT series Saving Grace.
Wilson’s popularity soared, however, with his portrayal of Herschel Greene, a veterinarian, farmer and recovering alcoholic who helps his comrades survive after a zombie apocalypse, on AMC’s The Walking Dead. He made his debut on the popular drama series in 2011, during its second season.