Jesse L. Martin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jesse L. Martin
Jessie L. Martin at BCEFA.jpg
At the 2006 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Annual Grand Auction and Flea Market
BornJesse Lamont Watkins
(1969-01-18) January 18, 1969 (age 45)
Rocky Mount, Virginia, United States
Other namesJesse Lamont Martin
Jump to: navigation, search
Jesse L. Martin
Jessie L. Martin at BCEFA.jpg
At the 2006 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Annual Grand Auction and Flea Market
BornJesse Lamont Watkins
(1969-01-18) January 18, 1969 (age 45)
Rocky Mount, Virginia, United States
Other namesJesse Lamont Martin

Jesse L. Martin (born Jesse Lamont Watkins; January 18, 1969) is an American actor and singer. He is known for originating the role of Tom Collins in the Broadway theatrical production of Rent, and for his portrayal of NYPD Detective Ed Green on the NBC drama television series Law & Order.

Early life[edit]

Martin, the third of five sons, was born in Rocky Mount, Virginia, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. His father, Jesse Reed Watkins (1943-2003), was a truck driver, and his mother, Virginia Price, a college counselor; the two divorced when he was a child.[1] His mother eventually remarried and Martin adopted his stepfather's surname.[2] When Martin was in grade school, the family relocated to Buffalo, New York, and the move was not an immediate success: Martin hated speaking because of his thick Southern accent and was often overcome with shyness. A concerned teacher influenced him to join an after-school drama program and cast him as the pastor in The Golden Goose. Being from Virginia, the young Martin played the character the only way he knew how: as an inspired Southern Baptist preacher. The act was a hit, and Martin emerged from his shell.[2]

Martin attended high school at The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, where he was voted "Most Talented" in his senior class. He later enrolled in New York University's prestigious Tisch School of the Arts Theatre Program, while simultaneously serving as the wildly popular president of his New York University dorm, Rubin Hall, a famous building on 5th Avenue and 10th street, where Mark Twain once lived. He was in charge of scores of productions there, bringing cheer and good will to the almost 1000 residents.[citation needed]


Stage work[edit]

After graduation, Martin toured the states with John Houseman's The Acting Company. He appeared in Shakespeare's Rock-in-Roles at the Actors Theatre of Louisville and The Butcher's Daughter at The Cleveland Play House, and returned to Manhattan to perform in local theatre, soap operas, and commercials. Finding that auditions, regional theater, and bit parts were no way to support himself, Martin waited tables at several restaurants around the city. He was literally serving a pizza when his appearance on CBS's Guiding Light aired in the same eatery. While the show aired, the whole waitstaff gathered around the bar television to cheer his performance. Often, during the dinner rush, he broke out in song. When he gave his customers their dinner checks, he told them to "keep it, because someday I'll be famous!" Many of his coworkers in the restaurants continue to follow his career and are considered his early "fan club".

Martin made his Broadway debut in Timon of Athens, and then performed in The Government Inspector with Lainie Kazan. While employed at the Moondance Diner, he met the playwright Jonathan Larson, who also worked on the restaurant's staff. In 1996, Larson's musical Rent took the theatre world by storm, with Martin in the role of gay computer geek/philosophy professor Tom Collins. The 1990s update of Puccini's La Bohème earned six Drama Desk Awards, five Obie Awards, four Tony Awards, and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1998, the West End production of RENT opened with four of the original cast members, including Martin. He also played Tad in the concept album of Bright Lights, Big City.

In 2010, Martin returned to the stage for one of his biggest theater commitments since Law & Order performing in the productions of The Merchant of Venice and The Winter's Tale as a part of The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. He played the roles of Gratiano and King Polixenes, respectively. The two shows were performed in repertory, beginning with previews on June 9th, 2010 through to the final performance on August 1st, 2010. The Merchant of Venice later transferred to Broadway to the Broadhurst Theater for a limited engagement, during which time Martin reprised his role as Gratiano. The show began previews on October 19, 2010, and officially opened on November 7. The show began a hiatus on January 9 to accommodate Al Pacino's pre-existing obligations, and resumed from February 1, 2011 to February 20, 2011; Martin did not reprise his role after the hiatus due to previous commitments.[3]

Martin took part in a one-night-only reading benefit of Romeo and Juliet to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, alongside Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Raúl Esparza and others on June 18, 2012.[4]


Martin soon landed roles on Fox's short-lived 413 Hope St. and Eric Bross' independent film Restaurant (1998). Ally McBeal's creator, David E. Kelley, attended Rent's Broadway premiere and remembered Martin when the show needed a new boyfriend for Calista Flockhart's Ally. Martin's performance as Dr. Greg Butters on Ally McBeal caught David Duchovny's eye, who then cast Martin as a baseball-playing alien in a 1999 episode of The X-Files titled "The Unnatural" that Duchovny wrote and directed.

While still shooting Ally McBeal, Martin heard rumours that actor Benjamin Bratt planned to leave the cast of Law & Order. Martin had tried out for the show years before and won the minor role of a car-radio thief named Earl the Hamster, but decided to wait for a bigger part. With the opportunity presenting itself, Martin approached Law & Order producer Dick Wolf regarding the opening. Wolf hoped to cast him, and upon hearing that CBS and Fox both offered Martin development deals, he gave the actor the part without an audition.

From 1999 to 2008, he played Det. Ed Green on Law & Order. He had a brief hiatus at the end of the 2004–2005 season while he was filming the movie adaptation of Rent in which he reprised the role of Tom Collins. Martin's final episode of Law & Order aired April 23, 2008, as he was replaced by Anthony Anderson. Martin returned to NBC a year later, as the co-star of The Philanthropist.

On September 14, 2012, NBC announced that Martin would be joining the cast of SMASH during season 2 for a nine-episode arc as Scott Nichols, the artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Workshop.[5] Martin has also been cast as one of the leads in an NBC pilot of The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives as Greg Cooke.[6] It was announced on May 10, 2013, that NBC would not be picking up the pilot.[7]

Martin was cast as Detective West in the pilot for The Flash, a spin-off from Arrow in January 2014.[8]


On March 4, 2013, it was announced that Martin would replace Lenny Kravitz as Marvin Gaye in an upcoming biopic directed by Julien Temple, and produced by Vassal Benton and Fred Bestall.[9][10] Martin had been attached to a different Gaye biopic for years and had stated that it was his dream role to portray the legendary Motown singer.[9][10]

Other work[edit]

Martin voiced the character Ed Green in the video game Law & Order: Justice is Served, and narrated the audio book The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin and On the Shoulder of Giants, Volume 2: Master Intellects and Creative Giants by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.[11][12] He also co-produced the Off-Broadway production of Fully Committed with RENT co-star Adam Pascal (and two other producers).[2][13]

Sits on the board of trustees for the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation along with RENT co-producer Kevin McCollum.[14][15]

Personal life[edit]

In October 2006, Martin returned to Buffalo, New York, to work on an independent film (Buffalo Bushido). While he was eating at a restaurant, his luggage was stolen from an SUV; his belongings were never returned.[16]

He is also known to be a proud resident of New York City and is adamant that he will never leave.[17][18]

Stage work[edit]


YearFilm/TelevisionRoleOther Notes
1995 & 1998New York UndercoverMustafa (1995 episode: "All In The Family") and Kaylen (1998 episode: "Going Native")TV Series
1997413 Hope St.Antonio CollinsTV Series
1998-1999Ally McBealDr. Greg ButtersTV Series

1999The X-FilesJosh ExleyTV Series (Episode 6x19, "The Unnatural")
Deep in My HeartDon WilliamsTV Movie
1999–2008Law & OrderDetective Edward "Ed" GreenRegular: 198 Episodes (left briefly during the end of the 2004–2005 season)
1999 & 2000Law & Order: Special Victims UnitDetective Edward "Ed" Green2 Episodes: "...Or Just Look Like One" and "Entitled"
2002Burning House of LoveAndre AndersonShort Film
2003Season of YouthRoc WilliamsFilm
2004A Christmas CarolGhost of Christmas Present/ Ticket SellerTV Movie
2005RentTom CollinsRepeated his Off-Broadway and Broadway role along with five other original main cast members
2008A Muppets Christmas: Letters to SantaA Postal WorkerCameo, TV Movie
2009The PhilanthropistPhilip MaidstoneTV Series
2009Peter and VandyPaulFilm
2009Buffalo BushidoShawn
2011PunctureDaryl KingFilm
2012Joyful NoiseMarcus HillFilm
2013SmashScott NicholsTV Series (nine-episode arc)
2013Long Live TOYAs HimselfDocumentary
2014The FlashDetective Joe West


  1. ^ "Movies: Biography for Jesse L. Martin". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Buckley, Michael. "STAGE TO SCREENS: A Chat with Jesse L. Martin". 
  3. ^ "Al Pacino-Led The Merchant of Venice Re-Opens on Broadway with New Cast Members". 
  4. ^ "Raul Esparza, Jesse L. Martin and More Join Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep in The Public's ROMEO AND JULIET Reading, 6/18". 
  5. ^ "'Smash' Books 'Rent' Alum Jesse L. Martin as Recurring Player". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  6. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 10, 2013). "Pilot Scoop: Jesse L. Martin Joins NBC's The Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives". TV Line. 
  7. ^ "NBC Pilot Update: Projects That Are Not Going Forward Get Notified". Deadline.  Retrieved May 14th, 2013
  8. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (January 21, 2014). "CW's 'Flash' Adds Jesse L. Martin". Hollywood Reporter. 
  9. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (March 4, 2013) "Jesse L. Martin to play Marvin Gaye in 'Sexual Healing', Replaces Lenny Kravitz". Deadline.  Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Nordyke, Kimberly (March 4, 2013) "Jesse L. Martin to Star in Marvin Gaye Biopic". The Hollywood Repoter.  Retrieved March 8, 2013.
  11. ^ "The Fire Next Time". Amazon. 
  12. ^ "On the Shoulders of Giants". Amazon. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Jesse L. Martin Theatre Credits". 
  14. ^ Jacobs, Leonard (February 13, 2004) "Larson Foundation Names Grantees". Backstage.  Retrieved April 12, 2013
  15. ^ Jacobs, Leonard (February 26, 2002) "Larson Foundation Names Grantees". Backstage.  Retrieved April 12, 2013
  16. ^ (October 26, 2006)"'Law & Order' cop gets robbed". Today.  Retrieved April 12, 2013
  17. ^ Adams, Cindy. "Tail 'Tale' upon us". New York Post. 
  18. ^ "Martin Will Never Leave New York". ContactMusic. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Jesse L. Martin". 
  20. ^ Huschak, Thomas S. (2011). Off-Broadway Musicals Since 1919: From Greenwich Village to The Toxic Avenger (Scarecrow Press). p. 406. 
  21. ^ Brantley, Ben (July 1, 2010). "Railing at a Money-Mad World". The New York Times (New York). Retrieved July 25, 2010. 
  22. ^ Brantley, Ben. "Jealousy, Blow Thy Mighty Winds!". New York Times. 
  23. ^ Itzkoff, Dave. "ARTSBEAT; 'Merchant of Venice' to Transfer to Broadway". New York Times. 
  24. ^ McBride, Walter. "Photo Coverage: ROMEO & JULIET Afterparty with Jesse L. Martin & Co.". 

External links[edit]