Though he hails originally from New York City, actor Holt McCallany has plenty of Chicago street cred. Locals will remember his mother, Julie Wilson, a legendary cabaret singer who headlined storied rooms like the Drake Hotel’s Camellia House and the Gold Star Sardine Bar. His father was a successful theater producer here, partnering with The Second City titans like Joyce Sloane (McCallany’s godmother). “We lived on Lake Shore Drive, and I hung out in Old Town. John Belushi had just signed on to Saturday Night Live. It was a really exciting time to be in Chicago,” McCallany says. “In the summers, I studied improv and acting at The Second City—and I worked in the back kitchen making sandwiches for years.”
Modest beginnings, perhaps, but at present McCallany plays one of the leads in Mindhunter, a riveting Netflix series about 1970s FBI detectives under intense and often unusual pressures. His character, Bill Tench, is based on Robert Ressler, “a very impressive guy, a native of Chicago,” McCallany says. “He was one of the early guys in the behavioral science unit and coined the term ‘serial killer.’”
Although McCallany’s busy four-decade career has included lots of TV appearances and roles in Alien 3, Fight Club and Sully, among other films, Mindhunter—directed by David Fincher, executive producer of House of Cards—is a breakout role. “This is the best work I have done in my career, and I have been doing this for a long time,” he says. “Everything changes when you’re in a hit. For me, it’s been fundamentally life-changing.”
Season two of Mindhunter drops in August.
Photography by: Antoine Verglas