Mitch Pileggi began acting while he was a high school student in Turkey, playing musical theater. After returning to Austin from Iran, he performed in local theaters, and continued his acting career with small roles in B-movies, and guest roles in television shows such as Dallas, China Beach, Code of Vengeance, and Walker, Texas Ranger.
In the 1980s, Pileggi starred in several films including Three O’Clock High as Duke “The Duker” Herman, an over zealous tough-as-nails high school parking lot security guard, and in Shocker as body-possessing serial killer Horace Pinker. Pileggi also appeared briefly in the 1992 film Basic Instinct as an investigating police officer in the infamous interrogation scene.
His most notable role was as the FBI’s Assistant Director Walter Skinner on The X-Files. The role was originally recurring, but the part expanded, and in 2001 he became a regular member of the cast. The character gradually became the most integral character besides the two leads. He remained with the show until its end in 2002. Pileggi also played the character in the 1998 X-Files film and, six years after the show’s end, reprised the character in the film The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Pileggi’s recent work has included starring in the short-lived TV show Tarzan and co-starring with Barbara Hershey and Oliver Hudson in the short-lived TV show The Mountain. Since 2005, he has played the recurring role of character Colonel Steven Caldwell, Commander of the Earth Battlecruiser, Daedalus, in the second and subsequent seasons of the television series Stargate Atlantis. He also appeared in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and in 2006 had a regular guest role on Day Break as Robbery/Homicide Detective Spivak. Pileggi also appeared on the show Cold Case in the episode “Offender,” as a father accused of molesting and murdering his own son, who then threatens to murder one child sex offender per day until the case is reopened and solved. Pileggi also played the role of Larry Jennings, chairman of the board of the hospital, in Grey’s Anatomy, and of Red Forman’s friend Bull in an episode of That ’70s Show.
Pileggi appeared in two episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as DEA agent Jack Hammond. Since 2008, Pileggi has played Ernest Darby, the head of a white supremacist gang called the “Nordics,” in the critically acclaimed FX drama Sons of Anarchy . He also played spree killer Norman Hill (AKA The Road Warrior) on a season four episode of Criminal Minds, titled “Normal.”
Pileggi has also done some voice acting. His voice was featured as the githzerai Dak’kon in the video game Planescape: Torment. He voices Commissioner James Gordon on the new Kids WB! animated show The Batman. Pileggi also hosted the controversial FOX specials Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed and Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?
Pileggi appeared as Harris Ryland in TNT’s Dallas, and played the recurring role of Sam and Dean Winchester’s maternal grandfather, Samuel Campbell, in the TV series Supernatural.