Edward James Olmos: A Living Legend Is Honored For His Work

By Ross Bonaime | 9 months ago

Edward James Olmos

For nearly fifty years, Edward James Olmos has acted and delivered amazing performances in legendary films and TV shows, as well as produced and directed. His career is impressively diverse and always surprising. Now he’s 73-years-old but he hasn’t slowed down at all.

Maybe you know him best from Battlestar Galactica, but Edward James Olmos has done so much more. Here’s what’s next for him, make sure you’re tuned in. So say we all.

Early Edward James Olmos

Edward James Olmos

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Edward James Olmos was the son of a Mexican immigrant and spent most of his childhood raised by great-grandparents after his parents split up. As a kid, he wanted to be a baseball player, but his ambitions eventually led him to sing in a rock and roll band named Pacific Ocean.  

Olmos then transitioned into acting, working in the theater through the 1960s and 1970s. His television career started with guest parts in iconic TV shows like Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, CHiPs and Hawaii Five-O.

Blade Runner
In Blade Runner

In the 1980s, Edward’s career truly took off. In 1982, Edward James Olmos played Gaff in the sci-fi classic Blade Runner and he starred in The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, playing the title role he had also played on stage.

His big breakthrough came in 1984, when he starred as Lieutenant Martin Castillo on Miami Vice, which would run until 1989. For his role as Castillo, Edward James Olmos won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.

Edward James Olmos
On Miami Vice

In 1988, he received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his starring role in Stand and Deliver. Edward James Olmos was the first American-born Hispanic to be nominated in the Best Actor category.

The 1990s were a relatively quiet period for Edward James Olmos, his biggest role from this period was in 1997’s Selena, where he played Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla. During this period, he appeared in TV shows as varied as The Magic School Bus, Touched by an Angel and The West Wing.

Battlestar Galactica And Beyond

Edward James Olmos as Adama

It was in the 200s that Edward James Olmos career had a resurgence in the 2000s, when he played Admiral William Adama in the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. His role commanding the Galatica ran from 2004 to 2009 and through it he achieved sci-fi icon status.

Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica
Adama on Battlestar Galactica

The last decade has been particularly packed for the one time BSG star. He would play Professor James Gellar in the sixth season of Dexter and Robert Gonzales in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Edward James Olmos would reprise his roll of Gaff in 2017’s Blade Runner 2049.

Edward James Olmos
Edward James Olmos on Dexter

Edward James Olmos has always had a gift for voice acting as well, ever since he provided the English voice of Mito for Nasuicaä of the Valley of the Wind. In recent years, he’s voiced characters in Beverly Hills Chihuahua, The Simpsons and in Pixar’s 2017 film, Coco

Behind the Camera

Despite how much work he’s had in front of the camera, Edward James Olmos has also been prolific behind the scenes. His first work as a director came in an episode of Miami Vice back in 1985. Since then, he acted and starred in 1992’s American Me, 2002’s Jack and Marilyn, the TV movie Walkout from 2006.

Battlestar Galactica

Edward James Olmos also directed four great episodes of Battlestar Galactica: “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down,” “Taking a Break from All Your Worries,” “Escape Velocity” and “Island in a Stream of Stars.” In addition to this, Edward James Olmos directed Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.

Edward James Olmos: Activist

Edward James Olmos

Edward James Olmos has also been extremely active over the last few decades through his activism on many different fronts. He helped clean Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots in 1992. In the 90s, he co-founded the non-profit organization, Latino Literacy Now and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

In an attempt to push back against Hispanic stereotypes, Edward James Olmos founded Latino Public Broadcasting, which works to fund public television programming on Latino issues. He also often visits teenagers at detention centers and juvenile halls and has been an ambassador for UNICEF.

Edward James Olmos was arrested in 2001 and spent twenty days in jail after attending the Navy-Vieques protests, which fought back against the United States Navy bombing the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. He has also worked closely with the SENS Research Foundation to help fight against diseases that can be caused by aging.

Edward James Olmos has been particularly vocal in recent months regarding his views on much needed. After Latinos were shut out of the nominees for the 72nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards, he stated, “There’s diversity, but as far as giving them credit and giving them a sense of balance, there’s none. I mean, indigenous people, Asian people, the Latino people are nowhere to be found and they haven’t been for a long time.”

Edward James Olmos in particular pointed out the Emmy’s snubbing of Rita Moreno for One Day at a Time and for overlooking Gina Rodriguez’s work on Jane the Virgin. Olmos has also said the outrage over the murder of George Floyd should motivate positive change in the Hollywood system.

Edward James Olmos NOW

Edward James Olmos

At the age of 73, Olmos is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. He’s one of the leads on the show Mayans M.C. In October of 2020, he will release The Devil Has a Name – which he directed and stars in. The film also features David Strathairn, Alfred Molina, Kate Bosworth, Martin Sheen and Haley Joel Osment. The Devil Has a Name is a dark comedy about a farmer (Strathairn), whose farm is poisoned by a gas company.

Edward James Olmos currently has three films awaiting release, including the coming-of-age drama, Chasing Wonders, a starring role in Walking with Herb and The Art of Living, based on the true story of a wrongfully convinced teenager. He also has a documentary Exile Nation: The Plastic People, which is currently available for free on YouTube. 

On Mayans M.C.

This week, The Paley Center for Media announced their first Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration. The event which is currently occurring, is part of Paley’s commitment to promoting diverse voices in media and entertainment. They recently aired “A Tribute to Hispanic Achievements in Television,” which honored such groundbreaking entertainment luminaries in Hispanic community as Edward James Olmos, as well as Gloria Estefan, Eva Longoria, Jimmy Smits and Soledad O’Brien.