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William Atherton is an American actor known for playing heavies in films like Ghostbusters and Die Hard.
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Then in 1988, he played the slimy, self-promoting television reporter Richard Thornburg in the Bruce Willis action thriller Die Hard, a role he later reprised in Die Hard 2. Atherton's turns as memorable foils in those high-profile movies in the late 1980s nearly erased the public's memory of his earlier dramatic roles. He became known as a villain,
a typecasting he accepted good-naturedly. "I always thought of them as comedy roles. I've never seen them as villain roles," Atherton said. "If you have to be the antagonist, you often have a lot more creative powers. You have a lot more color to you."
After the success of the Die Hard movies, Atherton found steady work in television and film. He had recurring roles on television series like Murder, She Wrote, Law & Order, Desperate Housewives and Life. He also appeared in movie roles as diverse as CIA Agent Block in 2005's Into the Sun, and Lyle Funion in 2007's Totally Baked: A Pot-U-Mentary.
Atherton has been married to Bobbi Goldin since 1980. Though fans may know him best for his "jerk" roles, Atherton takes that in stride. "Oftentimes, the protagonist roles aren't as interestingly written as the antagonists are," he said. "People can say, 'Well, you're playing the jerk,' and I don't mind. It's just that I don't really approach it that way. I approach it as a comedy part; I approach it as somebody who has an agenda, and go on from there."
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