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James Howard Woods (born April 18, 1947) is an American film, stage and television actor. Woods is known for starring in films such as Once Upon a Time in America , Ghosts of Mississippi , Salvador and Casino and as the Disney villain Hades in Hercules . His acting awards include two Emmy Awards and two Academy Award nominations. As a native of Warwick, Rhode Island , he is the man for whom Quahog 's high school, James Woods Regional High School , is named.

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A prominent Hollywood character actor, Woods has appeared in over 130 films and television series as of 2013[update], beginning with his first television appearance All the Way Home in 1971 and his film debut The Visitors in 1972. He is known for his dark, intense characters and villains. Early examples include his portrayals of a sadistic murderer in 1979's The Onion Field, and of serial killer Carl Panzram in 1994's Killer: A Journal of Murder. Woods appeared in an episode of The Rockford Files, playing a son whose parents were murdered. In 1984, he played Max, a domineering gangster, in Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in America, which Woods has regarded as one of his favorite roles. He was first recognized by the Oscars when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the Oliver Stone drama Salvador (1986), portraying real-life journalist Rick Boyle as he chronicles events in El Salvador. Woods earned another Oscar nomination, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role of the infamous white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith in Ghosts of Mississippi (1996). In 1995, he took the role of Lester Diamond in Martin Scorsese's Casino. That same year, he portrayed H. R. Haldeman in Nixon, the biopic of Richard M. Nixon, directed by Oliver Stone. In 1999, he appeared in The General's Daughter. In one of his most prominent television roles, Woods starred in the CBS legal drama series Shark, which ran for two seasons between 2006 and 2008. He played an infamous defense lawyer who, after growing disillusioned when his client commits a murder, becomes a successful prosecutor with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office.

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