Imagine you’re walking down the streets of New York City when an entire busload of tourists suddenly yells “Hey, dickless!” at you. Why would a group of complete strangers say something like that to you? Probably because they recognize you from this scene:
Believe it or not, the above scenario actually happened to character actor William Atherton, who became instantly recognizable after his role as bureaucratic EPA villain Walter Peck in Ghostbusters. After starting out his career in 1972, Atherton’s breakthrough role came opposite Goldie Hawn in one of Steven Spielberg’s earliest and most underrated films, The Sugarland Express. However, after his role as the dickless Peck in Ghostbusters, Atherton became a popular go-to guy for playing dickish characters, most memorably as Professor Jerry Hathaway in Real Genius and obnoxious reporter Richard Thornburg in Die Hard 1 & 2. Other prominent films Atherton has appeared in include The Day of the Locust, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, No Mercy, Oscar, The Pelican Brief, Bio-Dome, Mad City and The Last Samurai, and he has also guest starred on such TV series as The Twilight Zone, Murder She Wrote, The Practice, Law & Order, Stargate SG-1 and Lost. He even got the opportunity to play Walter Peck one more time when he provided his voice in Ghostbusters: The Video Game. William Atherton turns 65 today and here’s hoping he does not celebrate by releasing ghosts into the city.