William Atherton (born July 30, 1947), born William Atherton Knight, is an American film, stage and television actor. He's perhaps best known for his role as Walter Peck in Ghostbusters (1984), and since then has mostly (but not exclusively) played jerks.
- 1974 The Sugarland Express as Clovis Poplin
- 1975 The Day Of The Locust as Tod Hackett
- 1977 Looking For Mr Goodbar as James
- 1984 Ghostbusters as Walter Peck
- 1985 Real Genius as Prof. Jerry Hathaway
- 1988 Die Hard as Richard 'Dick' Thornberg
- 1990 Die Hard 2 as Richard Thornberg
- 1995 Frank And Jesse as Allan Pinkerton
- 1996 Bio-Dome as Dr. Noah Faulkner
- 2000 The Crow: Salvation as Nathan Randall
- 2003 The Last Samurai as Winchester Rep
- 2007 The Girl Next Door as Adult David
- 1978-1979 Centennial as Jim Lloyd
- 1987, 1989 The Equalizer as Martin 'Alpha' Loeber/Gideon
- 2004 Justice League Unlimited as Dr. Destiny
- 2006 Stargate SG-1 as Emissary Varta
- 2008-2009 Life as Mickey Rayborn
- 2010 Lost as Principal Donald Reynolds
- 2013 Defiance as Viceroy Berto Mercado
Tropes associated with William Atherton
- Embarrassing Nickname: Has been called "dickless" more times than he can count because of an insult directed at his character in Ghostbusters (1984) by Ray Stantz (Dan Akroyd).
- Evil Redhead: By the nature of his career path, he plays mostly bad guys. Though few are really evil. They're mostly Obstructive Bureaucrat types.
- Jerkass: Not in real life, but many of his characters post Ghostbusters (1984). At the time he resented it, but in the Entertainment Weekly interview for Ghostbusters 30th anniversary he says it gave him a great niche that he wound up making a good living off of.
- In interviews he can come as unintentionally pretentious do to his unusual serious approach to otherwise comedic roles. However, once you find out this is because of him being a classically trained actor that was very succesful in theater before making the jump to films, it Makes Sense In Context.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Is usually very nice to fans, and said to be very approachable.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Several roles, most notably his most famous: Walter Peck in Ghostbusters (1984).
- Smug Snake: Many characters.
- Type Casting: After Ghostbusters (1984) as Walter Peck he was mostly cast as the arrogant, smug jerkass character.