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This article's subject relates to Season 4 of 24.This article's subject relates to Season 5 of 24.This article's subject relates to Season 6 of 24.This article's subject relates to 24: Live Another Day.This is a production article written from an out-of-universe perspective
"That was the best, huh? The best. That’s a great experience. Wonderful people, great organization.... It was the craziest thing. I was the Secretary of [Defense] forever, and all of a sudden I got the best part in television!"
– William Devane on being "promoted" to President for 24: Live Another Day[1]

William Joseph Devane (born September 5, 1939; age 84) is an American film, television, and theater actor who played James Heller on 24, appearing in the fourth through sixth seasons, as well as 24: Live Another Day.


William Devane was born in Albany, New York to Joseph Devane, who worked as Franklin D. Roosevelt's chauffeur when he was Governor of New York. Devane graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and made his Broadway debut in The Watering Place, a flop that lasted only one night. He achieved greater success on stage with The Chinese and Dr. Fish, and later directed the well-received 1979 production of the Vietnam War drama G.R. Point.

Devane's made his film debut in 1967 playing a revolutionary in the film In the Country, but came to prominence for his Emmy Award-nominated turn as President John F. Kennedy in the 1973 Cuban Missile Crisis drama The Missiles of October, which also starred Harris Yulin. He starred as a leading man in numerous films throughout the 1970s, including McCabe & Mrs. Miller, and Marathon Man.

In 1976, Devane played one of the four leads in legendary director Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot.

Devane is perhaps most widely recognized for his Golden Globe-nominated role as the villainous Greg Sumner on the soap opera Knots Landing, which aired from 1983 to 1993. During those years, he worked with numerous actors that would later star in 24 like Dennis Haysbert, Leslie Hope, Gregory Itzin, Jesse D. Goins, Marco Sanchez, Doug Savant, and Ray Wise.

9X08 Heller family

William Devane's picture from Testament used to portray a younger James Heller and his family.

In 1983, Devane starred as Tom Wetherly in Testament, a post-apocalyptic drama film following Wetherly's family in the wake of a nuclear apocalypse. The film also featured Lukas Haas, playing Tom's son, Scottie. A photo of Devane from Testament was used to represent a younger James Heller in a family photograph, seen in "Day 9: 6:00pm-7:00pm".

Other films in which Devane has worked are Timestalkers, Exception to the Rule (with Stephen Mendel), Hollow Man (with Pablo Espinosa and J. Patrick McCormack), Space Cowboys (with Donald Sutherland, James Cromwell, Alexander Kuznetsov, James MacDonald, and Rade Serbedzija), and Payback (with Gregg Henry and Alex Skuby). Since 2006, he has appeared as Dr. Dix in the Tom Selleck detective drama series Jesse Stone, also featuring Leslie Hope.

Aside from films, Devane has worked in TV shows like The X-Files, What About Brian (with Dameon Clarke, D. C. Douglas, and Jason Grutter), NCIS (with Pauley Perrette), Psych (with Timothy Omundson, and Revenge, among others. In 2003, he appeared as the Secretary of State in The West Wing, reuniting with his Missiles of October co-star Martin Sheen and also appearing with Steven Culp, Zeljko Ivanek, J. Patrick McCormack, Michael O'Neill, and Devika Parikh.

In addition to his role as JFK in the 70's, Devane has played the President of the United States in other productions. He played the President of the United States in Stargate SG-1 (with Carmen Argenziano, Michael Shanks, and Cliff Simon) and in the third film in Christopher Nolan's Batman series, The Dark Knight Rises, also starring Tomas Arana, Brent Briscoe, David Dayan Fisher and Wade Andrew Williams.

Devane has been married to Eugenie Devane since 1961, and has two children. He is an avid equestrian, polo player, and fly-fisher. Devane was also the owner of a New York-Italian restaurant, Devane's, which had locations in Indio and Rancho Mirage, California, until their closure due to the 2008 financial recession. Since 2012, he has been the spokesman for the precious metals firm Rosland Capital, appearing in a series of commercials engaged in various outdoor activities and delivering the catchphrase, "What's in your safe?"

Role on 24[]

Devane played the role of James Heller during several seasons of 24. He first appeared in Season 4 where he was part of the Main cast. During that season, he appeared in a total of 15 episodes. Devane briefly reprised his role during the last episodes of Seasons 5 and 6. During these appearances, he was credited as a Special guest star.

In 2013, Devane was announced to reprise his role as James Heller, the new President, in 24: Live Another Day. According to an interview with Los Angeles Times, he told the producers that he was interested in playing a President "that doesn't want to be president, he can't handle it." About Heller's bout with Alzheimer's disease, Devane said he found inspiration in Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez. He said about him:

"He had a position about characters. You have a public character, you have a private character and you have a secret character. I kind of tried to apply that to this."[2]

For the limited series, Devane was again part of the main cast and appeared in all 12 episodes. In total, Devane has appeared in 32 episodes of 24.

24 credits[]

24-related appearances[]


External links[]