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Jonathan Banks: Emmy-Nominated Star of 'Breaking Bad' and 'Better Call Saul'
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Jonathan Banks, born January 31, 1947, in Washington, D.C., is a distinguished American actor renowned for his versatile roles in film and television. He gained critical acclaim for his portrayal of Mike Ehrmantraut in the hit series Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul, earning multiple Emmy nominations for his performance.

Early Life and Education

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Jonathan Ray Banks was born on January 31, 1947, in Washington, D.C. He was raised in Chillum Heights, Maryland, a suburb just outside of Washington, D.C. Banks' mother, Elena Adams Banks, had a diverse career working in various federal government offices, including the CIA, and served as a private secretary to several top Naval officers. Banks received his early education in Maryland, graduating from Northwood High School in Silver Spring. After high school, he pursued higher education at Indiana University Bloomington, where he developed his passion for theater. During his time at the university, Banks was a classmate of future acclaimed actor Kevin Kline. The two budding actors collaborated in a production of "The Threepenny Opera," foreshadowing their future careers in the entertainment industry. While at Indiana University, Banks immersed himself in theater, honing his craft and laying the foundation for his future acting career. However, he did not complete his degree, instead opting to join a touring company as a stage manager, which marked the beginning of his professional journey in the performing arts. This early exposure to theater and performance at Indiana University proved instrumental in shaping Banks' career trajectory. His experiences on stage, including collaborations with fellow students like Kevin Kline, provided valuable training and networking opportunities that would serve him well in his future pursuits as a professional actor.
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Jonathan Banks' Transition to Television: Wiseguy and Beyond

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Jonathan Banks' transition to television marked a significant turning point in his career, with his role in "Wiseguy" serving as a breakthrough. Here are the key highlights of this period:
  • Banks gained prominence for his portrayal of FBI Special Agent Frank McPike in the television series "Wiseguy" (1987–1990).
  • His performance in "Wiseguy" earned him a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.
  • Following "Wiseguy," Banks continued to build his television career with roles in various series:
    • "The Gangster Chronicles" (1981)
    • "Otherworld" (1985)
    • "Highlander: The Series" (1994)
    • "Walker, Texas Ranger" (1994)
    • "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (2004)
    • "Without a Trace" (2006)
  • Banks' success in television paved the way for his iconic role as Mike Ehrmantraut in "Breaking Bad" and later in "Better Call Saul."
This period established Banks as a versatile and compelling television actor, setting the stage for his later critically acclaimed performances.
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Jonathan Banks (Photos)

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Jonathan Banks' Awards and Honors

Jonathan Banks has received numerous awards and honors throughout his illustrious career, reflecting his exceptional talent and contributions to the entertainment industry.
AwardYearCategoryWork
Primetime Emmy Awards2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesBreaking Bad, Better Call Saul
Saturn Awards2013, 2022Best Supporting Actor on TelevisionBreaking Bad, Better Call Saul
Critics' Choice Television Awards2015Best Supporting Actor in a Drama SeriesBetter Call Saul
Screen Actors Guild Awards2018, 2019, 2021, 2023Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesBetter Call Saul
Gotham Awards2017Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble PerformanceMudbound
Peabody Awards2023EntertainmentBetter Call Saul
Indiana University2016Honorary Doctor of Humane LettersContributions to arts and humanities
Banks' accolades underscore his versatility and enduring impact in both television and film, with standout performances that have garnered critical acclaim and audience admiration.
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Jonathan Banks' Extensive Filmography Highlights

Jonathan Banks has had a prolific career in both film and television, showcasing his versatility and talent across various genres. Below is a concise overview of his notable works:
CategoryNotable Works
FilmAirplane! (1980), 48 Hrs. (1982), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Freejack (1991), Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001), Mudbound (2017), The Commuter (2018)
TelevisionWiseguy (1987–1990), Breaking Bad (2009–2012), Better Call Saul (2015–2022), Community (2014), The Gangster Chronicles (1981), Highlander: The Series (1994), Walker, Texas Ranger (1994), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2004), Without a Trace (2006)
Voice ActingBatman: Arkham Knight (2015), Skylanders Academy (2016–2018), Tangled: The Series (2017–2020), F Is for Family (2020–2021)
Banks' extensive filmography highlights his ability to adapt to various roles, from dramatic performances to voice acting in animated series and video games.
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Jonathan Banks (Interviews)

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Iconic Role: Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad

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Jonathan Banks' portrayal of Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the most compelling performances in television history. Introduced as a fixer and hitman, Mike's character evolved into a complex figure driven by a desire to support his family after the tragic death of his son. Banks' performance earned him critical acclaim and multiple Emmy nominations. His chemistry with Aaron Paul, who played Jesse Pinkman, was particularly noted, with their on-screen dynamic becoming a beloved aspect of the series. Banks' improvised audition, which included an unscripted slap, impressed the producers and secured him the role, showcasing his natural fit for the character. Mike's story was further expanded in the prequel series Better Call Saul, where Banks' portrayal continued to receive praise, solidifying Mike as a fan-favorite character in the Breaking Bad universe.
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Jonathan Banks' Personal Life and Family

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Jonathan Banks has been married twice and has three children. He married his first wife, Marnie Fausch, in 1968, and they had one daughter before divorcing in 1970. In 1990, Banks married Gennera Gonzalez Cebian, with whom he has fraternal twins and a stepdaughter from Gennera's previous relationship. Banks' family life has been marked by both personal and professional collaborations, notably with his daughter Rebecca Elena Banks, who has followed in his footsteps in the film and television industry.
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Closing Thoughts

Jonathan Banks has established himself as one of the most respected character actors of the 21st century, with a career spanning stage, film, and television. His versatility and depth as an actor are evident in his numerous award nominations and critical acclaim, particularly for his work in crime series. Banks' portrayal of Mike Ehrmantraut in "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul" has earned him five Primetime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, cementing his status as a pivotal figure in award-winning television. His ability to bring complex characters to life has made him a sought-after talent in both dramatic and comedic roles across various mediums. Banks' journey from an accomplished stage actor at Indiana University to a renowned film and television star exemplifies the breadth of his talent and the enduring impact he has had on American entertainment. His contributions to critically acclaimed series and films have not only garnered industry recognition but also a dedicated fan following, solidifying his place as a distinguished figure in 21st-century American acting.
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