(written from a Production point of view)
Clifton Collins, Jr. (born 16 June 1970; age 50) is an Emmy Award-nominated actor who played Ayel, the Romulan cohort and general to Eric Bana's Nero, in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. A picture of him was also used for card #70, titled Romulan First Officer Ayel, of the 2013 virtual collectible card battle game Star Trek: Rivals.
Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Collins is the grandson of well-known character actor Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez. Collins has been acting in film and television since 1990. Outside of Star Trek, he is known for his roles in such films as Tigerland, Traffic, The Last Castle, Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, and, most notably, Capote. He received an Emmy Award nomination for his work on the short-lived series Thief and recently starred in the TV dramas The Event and Red Widow.
Collins made his film debut in the 1991 drama Grand Canyon, which starred Alfre Woodard. He then had a supporting role in the 1993 science fiction/action film Fortress, along with Jeffrey Combs, Kurtwood Smith, and Tom Towles. This was followed with roles in such films as Poetic Justice (1993; with John Cothran, Jr.) and Dead Presidents (1995; with Seymour Cassel).
His breakthrough in mainstream cinema came with his role in 1997's One Eight Seven, co-starring Jack Kehler and Tony Plana. His subsequent film credits included The Replacement Killers (1998; with Patrick Kilpatrick) and Light It Up (1999; also featuring Vanessa Williams).
In 2000, Collins was seen in the acclaimed films Tigerland and Traffic. In the former, he portrayed Private Miter, an Army trainee whose inability to lead a platoon results in his being tormented by his superiors, including a staff sergeant played by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine guest star James MacDonald. In Traffic, Collins portrayed Francisco Flores, a hit man who is ultimately hired to kill a drug dealer played by Star Trek III: The Search for Spock actor Miguel Ferrer. (Traffic also featured Enrique Murciano and Tucker Smallwood.)
Collins worked with Ron Perlman and Michelle C. Bonilla in the 2000 sports drama Price of Glory. He then co-starred in the 2001 action/thriller The Last Castle, for which he received a nomination from the ALMA (American Latino Media Arts) Awards as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. Frank Military had a role in this film, as well.
Collins later had supporting roles in such films as The Rules of Attraction (2002; co-starring Paul Williams), American Girl (2002; with Michelle Forbes), and Mindhunters (2004; starring Christian Slater). Perhaps his best known film role to date is that of serial killer Perry Smith in 2005's Capote, for which he received critical praise and a second ALMA Award nomination. This film also starred Bruce Greenwood, whom Collins again worked with on Star Trek.
Collins played the lead role in the 2005 crime drama Dirty, which featured an appearance by TNG's Gates McFadden. He later had a small role in the acclaimed 2006 film Babel and had a supporting role in the 2008 comedy Sunshine Cleaning, along with Paul Dooley. Collins again worked with Dooley in the 2009 thriller The Horsemen. Neal McDonough worked on this film, as well, but he was later replaced and his scenes reshot.
In 2009, aside from his role on Star Trek, Collins appeared in the action/thriller Crank: High Voltage, playing one of the main villains. The cast of this film also included John de Lancie as a sardonic, atypical news caster. Collins' other film credits in 2009 included the Mike Judge comedy Extract (also featuring Tom Virtue), the action sequel Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, and the Jim Sheridan drama Brothers (on which Michael De Luca was a producer).
In the baseball drama The Perfect Game, which was filmed in 2007 but not released until 2010, Collins played the lead role and worked alongside Bruce McGill. Collins made an uncredited cameo appearance as a member of the Vegan Police as in the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; this film also featured the voice of Bill Hader.
Collins subsequently appeared in the 2011 comedies Freeloaders (with Wallace Langham and Courtney Peldon) and The FP (with Sean Whalen) and starred opposite Clancy Brown in the 2012 horror-comedy Hellbenders. His most recent release was the crime thriller Parker, which also featured Carlos Carrasco.
Collins' upcoming films include two highly-anticipated sci-fi/action-adventure projects: Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim (also featuring Idris Elba, Ron Perlman and Brad William Henke) and Wally Pfister and Christopher Nolan's Transcendence (again working with Wallace Langham). He also worked on two upcoming films from acclaimed director Terrence Malick: Knight of Cups and an untitled project. On the latter, Collins acted alongside Benicio del Toro, who was considered for the role of the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness before it went to Benedict Cumberbatch.
In addition to his film work, Collins has made a name for himself in television. Early on, he had guest spots on such series as Walker, Texas Ranger (with Noble Willingham), ER (with Richard Fancy and Steve Vinovich), NYPD Blue (with K Callan, Gordon Clapp, and Ken Jenkins), and UPN's The Twilight Zone. In 2001, he had a recurring role on the Showtime drama Resurrection Blvd., working with Daniel Zacapa and, in one episode, Ray Wise.
Collins first worked with J.J. Abrams and other members of the Star Trek production team when he played the recurring role of Javier Parez on the ABC series Alias. Greg Grunberg, who also participated in Star Trek, was a regular on this series at the time.
In 2006, Collins starred as Jack "Bump" Hill on the FX Network series Thief. Although this program lasted only six episodes, Collins received an Emmy Award nomination for his performance. The following year, Collins appeared in the recurring role of Hernan on another FX series, The Shield. Fellow Star Trek alumni Michael Jace, Jay Karnes, and Benito Martinez were regulars on this series.
In 2010, Collins appeared as Detective Ray Suarez on the TNT (formerly NBC) police drama Southland. Collins appeared in the fourth episode of the second season; he was slated to continue appearing on the show during its third season, but this never came to fruition. Star Trek: Enterprise guest star Michael McGrady was a regular on this series at the time.
Collins was a regular cast member on the short-lived NBC drama series The Event, which aired during the 2010-2011 season. Bill Smitrovich and Collins' Star Trek co-star, Lisa Vidal, also appeared on this program. Later in 2011, Collins guest-starred in a two-episode arc on CSI: NY, on which Robert Joy was a regular.
Most recently, Collins was a regular on the ABC drama Red Widow, which aired for eight episodes in 2013 before it was canceled. Natalija Nogulich had a recurring role on this series.
In the first and second season of the HBO series Westworld, first aired in 2016 and 2018, Collins portrayed the recurring character of robot actor and fictional Wild West outlaw Lawrence.