Over his long career, Scott Wilson has acted in nearly 50 films. He’s known for playing Harvey Oberst in the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night, and killer Dick Hickok in Richard Brooks’s 1967 film adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. After numerous appearances as a character actor in television dramas, Wilson landed the role of zombie killer Dr. Hershel Greene on AMC’s The Walking Dead.
Actor Scott Wilson was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 29, 1942, to parents Jewel and Thomas Wilson. He attended his first three years of high school in Atlanta, but graduated in 1960 from Thomasville High School when his mother moved the family to her hometown 200 miles south of Atlanta after the death of his father Thomas Wilson.
Wilson enrolled at Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia, on an athletic scholarship, but left due to health issues. In 1961, when he was 19 years old, he impulsively hitchhiked to California and enrolled in acting classes there. Five years later, he was cast in the film In the Heat of the Night (1967), co-starring with Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier. The movie won four Academy Awards, including for best picture.
Some say that his resemblance to the real-life killer led Wilson to win the role of Dick Hickok in Richard Brooks’s 1967 film adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Due to the film’s dark popularity, Wilson made the cover of LIFE magazine in 1967, along with co-star Robert Blake and author Capote, depicting the three men standing on a desolate stretch of highway in Kansas.
Other film credits include The Gypsy Moths (1969); The Great Gatsby (1974); The Ninth Configuration (1980), for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe; and The Right Stuff (1983). In 1984, Wilson tied with another actor for the best actor honor at the Cartagena Film Festival in Colombia for his work in On the Line. The actor’s later works include Dead Man Walking (1995), Pearl Harbor (2001), Monster (2003), and Junebug (2005).
After appearing in three seasons of The Walking Dead on AMC as the popular character Herschel Greene, he joined the cast of the TV series Damien, based on the classic movie The Omen, and will appear in the upcoming series The OA.