Shane West is an actor, punk rock musician and songwriter. West is known for his portrayal of Eli Sammler in the ABC family drama Once and Again, Landon Carter in A Walk to Remember, Darby Crash in What We Do Is Secret, Dr. Ray Barnett in the NBC medical drama ER and Michael Bishop in The CW spy drama Nikita. He currently stars in the WGN adventure/historical/fantasy drama Salem as John Alden. As well as acting, West has performed with punk rock band Germs and Johnny Was.
West was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the son of Leah Catherine (née Launey), a lawyer, and Don Snaith, a drugstore owner. Both his parents were musicians and had their own punk bands. His mother is of Cajun French descent and his father was born in Jamaica, of British and Portuguese origin.He is the eldest of three children with a sister Simone and a half-sister Marli Ann. His parents divorced in 1982 when he was four years old. Influenced by his parents, he grew up listening to The Clash, The Jam, Blondie, Elvis Costello, and The Kinks. He revealed: "I always thought I would be doing music rather than acting." At the age of ten, West and his sister Simone moved to Compton, California with their mother because she was looking for a better job. They later moved to Norwalk, California. When he was fifteen or sixteen, West moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He struggled for two years and lived at his manager's house, before making his acting debut in 1995, appearing in the CBS drama Picket Fences in the season 4, episode 6 "Heart of Saturday Night", where he played Dave Lattimore.
In 1998, West guest-starred in several television series including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and played Mark Tapper in the stage production of The Cider House Rules. He landed his first major role in 1999 in the ABC family drama Once and Again, playing Eli Sammler for three seasons. West's feature film debut was in Liberty Heights, a film about a Jewish family in Baltimore, directed by Barry Levinson. He also co-starred in teen comedies Whatever It Takes (2000) and Get Over It (2001).
West was cast as Landon Carter opposite singer and actress Mandy Moore in 2002's adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' novel A Walk to Remember, which was a modest box office success, grossing over $41 million in the United States. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times found him "quietly convincing". His performance in the film earned him a Teen Choice Award for Choice Chemistry with Moore. He also appeared in the Mandy Moore music video "Cry". That year, West won the Young Hollywood Award Male Superstar of Tomorrow.
In 2003, West starred as an adult version of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen alongside Sean Connery. The film was a commercial success, earning over $179 million worldwide from a production budget of $78 million. A year later, he joined the cast of the long-running NBC medical drama, ER in the eleventh season premiere, playing resident Ray Barnett. In May 2007, West left ER at the end of the thirteenth season after winning a role in Supreme Courtships, but the series was not picked up by the Fox Network. In October 2008, West returned to ER for three episodes during its fifteenth and final season.
During hiatus between seasons of ER, West worked on shooting What We Do Is Secret (an independent film), which premiered at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival after much delay. West helped to finance it. In the film, he portrays Darby Crash, a member of the 1970s punk band Germs. Members of the band were so impressed by West's performance that they re-formed the band with West taking the deceased Crash's place. West received positive reviews for his portrayal in the movie; the San Francisco Chronicle stated that he is the one who "lifts the entire film to a whole other level". Similarly, the Seattle Times wrote that his impersonation was "worth saluting" while TV Guide called it "pretty impressive". In 2008, he received the Rising Star Award in Philadelphia Film Festival for his work in What We Do is Secret. West starred as Michael Bishop in The CW spy drama Nikita from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, he began starring in the WGN adventure/historical/fantasy drama Salem as John Alden.
West was the lead singer of punk rock band Jonny Was for "seven or eight years". The band was originally known as Average Joe but had to change its name for legal reasons. The band contributed to the A Walk to Remember soundtrack, appearing under the names "West, Gould, and Fitzgerald" because they had not yet decided on a new name. West described their style as "a pop-punk type band, more Green Day-ish". In November 2005, while What We Do Is Secret was still in production, it was announced that West would be fronting Germs on tour. He performed with the band for nearly five years, doing an American tour (including the 2006 Warped Tour) and a European Tour. He described the experience as "more exciting" than acting. However, after booking a leading role in Nikita, West had less time to play with the band. His last performance was in December 2009.
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