Esai Morales
Esai Morales
Esai Morales appears as a young Manny Lopez, George's estranged dad, in the Season 1 episode "Who's Your Daddy?"
Basic Information
Birthname Esai Manuel Morales
Born (1962-10-01) October 1, 1962 (age 54)
Occupation: Actor
Years Active: 1982 - present
Family/Personal Information
Family Mariana Oliveira Morales (daughter, with Silva)
Spouse(s): Elvimar Silva
Character Information
Appeared on: George Lopez (TV series)
Episodes appeared in: "Who's Your Daddy?" in Season 1

Esai Morales (born October 1, 1962) guest starred as George's concept of his estranged dad Manny Lopez in the Season 1 episode "Who's Your Daddy?". As an TV and film actor, Esai is best known for his roles as Bob Valenzuela in biopic La Bamba, as Lt. Tony Rodriguez on NYPD Blue and Joseph Adama on Caprica.


Morales' film debut in the gritty crime drama Bad Boys (1983), brought him to national attention. As an unrepentant street thug seeking revenge against a fellow inmate (Sean Penn) in a youth correctional facility, Morales convincingly exuded enough malice that it allowed him to hold his own against the performance of the more seasoned Penn. He played the part so well, in fact, that for most of his career he has had to struggle against being pigeon-holed in the role of the angry Latino.

Morales has continually fought against ethnic stereotyping by playing a variety of them, including the role of a heroic Iranian in the TV miniseries adaptation of Ken Follett's bestseller "On Wings of Eagles" (NBC, 1986). Playing the hot-tempered "bad boy" would nonetheless remain a staple of his résumé, most memorably with his lauded portrayal of singer Richie Valens' troubled older brother in the hit feature, "La Bamba" (1987). Morales fared less well with the follow-ups "Bloodhounds of Broadway" (1989), and "Naked Tango" (1991). Other roles of the period included an impressive performance as a sociopathic kidnapper in the erotic thriller "Ultraviolet" (1992), and a small part in "Freejack" (1992). In the Kevin Costner-produced "Rapa-Nui" (1994), Morales delivered another admirable performance. That same year, he reunited with Raul Julia for the biopic of Brazilian activist Chico Mendes in "The Burning Season" (1994), directed by John Frankenheimer.

Morales earned strong notices for his portrayal of another troubled urban Latino youth in the generational drama Mi Familia (My Family) (1995). By the second half of the decade, the actor found himself doing more television in such TV film projects as Dying to Be Perfect: The Ellen Hart Pena Story (1996). He tried gamely to add depth to an underwritten role in The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca (1997), a little-seen film that nonetheless earned Morales an ALMA Award nomination for his performance. Returning to TV, he essayed Miguel Gonzalez, the father of real-life Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez, in "A Family in Crisis: The Elian Gonzalez Story" (Fox Family Channel, 2000). Morales' next big break came with his regular role as Paco Corrales in the drama "Resurrection Blvd" (Showtime, 2000-03), the first cable series to center entirely around a Latino family.

That role led to Esai's TV breakout part on the venerable ABC-TV police drama series NYPD Blue (1993-2005) as Lt. Tony Rodriguez in 2001, head of the 15th Precinct's detective squad. Morales next joined another dramatic series, PBS's American Family (2001-04) in 2001, playing Esteban Gonzalez, a man struggling to raise his son and put his life back together after his release from prison. Morales picked up a cameo in Richard Linklater's odd adaptation of Eric Schlosser's scathing satire of America's conspicuous consumption, Fast Food Nation (2006), prior to joining the cast of the short-lived FOX mystery series Vanished (2006-07). He also landed a recurring role in the post-apocalyptic drama series "Jericho" (CBS). As futuristic family patriarch Joseph Adama in the SyFy series Caprica (2009-2010), Morales landed what had the potential to be one of his biggest roles, he played the father of future Battlestar commander Bill Adama. Unfortunately, the project failed, which led to its mid-season cancellation.


In 2002, Morales won The Alma Award as Best Actor in a Television Series, and was honored as Entertainer of the Year at the 17th Annual Imagen Awards for his work on NYPD Blue. He won an Imagen Award for Best Actor for his tour de force performance in Gun Hill Road, and an Imagen Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series for his work in American Family. His performance on the Lifetime network's We Have Your Husband won him a NAACP nomination.


A self-described "actorvist," Morales has been an advocate for countless charities and causes, including literacy, environment, health, immigration, arts funding and social justice issues. He is one of the founders of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, taking inspiration from his mother, and was a founding board member of E.C.O. (Earth Communications Office).

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