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Dean Winters
Winters in October 2010.
Dean Gerard Winters

(1964-07-20) July 20, 1964 (age 54)
Years active1995–present

Dean Gerard Winters (born July 20, 1964)[1] is an American actor. He is known for his role as Ryan O'Reily on the HBO prison drama Oz, and has also appeared on such television series as Rescue Me, 30 Rock, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as the character "Mayhem" in a series of Allstate Insurance commercials. Winters co-starred with Josh Duhamel in one season of the CBS Network cop drama series Battle Creek.

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  • ✪ The Truth About Allstate's Mayhem Commercial Guy
  • ✪ Behind the Scenes with Dean Winters
  • ✪ Dean Winters - Day in the Life
  • ✪ Love Rome Clip 2
  • ✪ Dean Winters Has Strange Romantic Tastes | People


Allstate's series of "Mayhem" commercials is one of the most successful ad campaigns in recent memory. It's easy to understand why they've caught on. "I'm your phone, stuck down here between your seat and you console. Playin' a little hide and seek. Cold. Bzz." If you've watched these spots and felt like the guy playing Mayhem seems familiar, you're right he's popped up in a number of shows and films over the last couple of decades. Here are some surprising facts you didn't know about Allstate's Mayhem man, Dean Winters. A guy walks into a bar… Winters landed his first movie role in the 1997 Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts thriller Conspiracy Theory. But that wasn't Winters' first screen acting gig overall. In the 1995 TV season, he had a recurring role as Tom Marans on NBC's acclaimed police drama Homicide: Life on the Street. He got that part via [vee-ah] his connection with Homicide creator and producer Tom Fontana. Up to that point, Winters had primarily paid the bills with a bartending job in New York City. Fontana walked into Winters' Upper East Side bar at about 2 A.M. one night and the two struck up a friendship. Fontana offered to write a role into the show for Winters, and eventually he accepted. It turned into a good decision for the young actor - when Fontana moved on to create the prison drama Oz for HBO, he wrote the role of Ryan O'Reily specifically for Winters. 30 Rock runaway For viewers of the Tina Fey sitcom 30 Rock, Winters will always be Dennis Duffy, Liz Lemon's sleazy, on-again-off-again boyfriend. "It's a fancy briefcase. Cuz you're classy and important, like a dude." "Thank you Dennis." Duffy's many quirks made him a fan favorite, but he almost didn't get the gig. Winters later said: "I went to the audition for 30 Rock - I walked in, and there was, like, 30 guys up there reading for my role, and [...] they were the funniest guys in New York City." Faced with that level of talented competition, Winters bolted. When his talent agency found out about it, they issued an ultimatum: Go back to the audition, or they'd drop him as a client. Needless to say, Winters went back - and got the gig. "Dennis what are you doing?" "I'm gonna mount a TV on your wall, I just, I can't find a stud." He actually died One morning in June 2009, Winters awoke with a fever and stayed in bed all day. The next morning he went to his doctor's office, and that's where he collapsed. He later told Page Six: "I was turning black, and my whole head was swelling up." An ambulance raced Winters to the hospital, but on the way, his heart stopped… for two and a half minutes. Paramedics revived him, and he wound up spending three weeks in intensive care to recover from a bacterial infection. Winters was too sick to work for a year. Right before his brush with mortality, he'd filmed a pilot for an ABC show called Happy Town, and when it was picked up, producers replaced him. However, exactly one year and a day after he collapsed, his best-known work hit screens when Allstate launched its "Mr. Mayhem" campaign. "Mommy! Mommy mommy!" Avoiding Mayhem Winters almost didn't live to make those Mayhem ads - and in fact, he almost didn't appear in them at all. After his medical nightmare, he had to re-learn how to walk. He explained: "I was feeling sorry for myself - I had lost toes and half a thumb and the tip of my nose fell off - and this nurse took me to the children's burn unit. I saw these eight kids with prosthetic legs playing soccer and I thought, 'That's it.' That's the moment when I turned everything around and decided to learn how to walk again." When Allstate Insurance sought him out to play the Mayhem guy in its huge commercial campaign, Winters turned them down at first. He told HuffPost Live: "When they offered me the commercial, I said no. My smartass remark was that I became an actor so I wouldn't have to put on a suit and sell insurance. And then my agent slapped me around and said, 'Come on, get real.'" Active career Shooting a string of 30-second TV commercials is Dean Winters' most widely known gig, but it leaves him enough time to do lots of acting in movies and on TV shows, where he often plays street-smart tough guys and cops. Since the Mayhem campaign began in 2010, Winters has surfaced on sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Divorce. In addition to his recurring roles on 30 Rock, Rescue Me, and Law & Order: SVU, Winters also starred on Battle Creek, a short-lived CBS crime dramedy co-created by Breaking Bad's Vince Gilligan. Winters has also appeared in films like John Wick. Horror shoot As a young man, Dean Winters wrote himself an acting "bucket list" of all the different kinds of projects he aimed to perform in someday. He later recalled: "I was, like, 'I want to be in a horror film, I want to be in a Western, I want to be in this, I want to be in that." One item Winters can cross off that list is a horror movie. Winters played a sleazy businessman mourning his wife and dealing with amnesia in the 2002 direct-to-video release Hellraiser: Hellseeker, the sixth film in the series featuring the spiky-headed Pinhead. It wasn't necessarily a dream come true, however. In fact, Winters didn't have the best time shooting the movie. He explained: "I took that movie at the last minute, I got to Vancouver, and if there were 120 scenes in the movie, I think I was in 116. And I got sick, like, at the end of the first read-through." Winters wound up being extremely ill for three weeks out of the four-week shoot, and it didn't help that the film was shot in a real psychiatric facility. He added: "I was having nightmares and seeing visions in the hospital. It was just bananas." The hands of Mayhem The Leo Burnett advertising agency conceived the Mayhem ads, and in 2011, Burnett executive vice president Nina Abnee unequivocally told Ad Age that one of the inspirations behind Mayhem was simple, saying: "We wanted to kick Flo's ass." She's speaking, of course, about Allstate rival Progressive's extremely popular advertising mascot. Thanks in part to the Flo ad onslaught, Allstate's market share dropped for two straight years. The Mayhem campaign reversed Allstate's fortunes with Winters' character and an emphasis on value over price.


Early life

Dean Winters was born in New York City and raised on Long Island. He is of Irish and Italian descent and speaks fluent Italian.[1] He has two brothers, actor Scott William Winters and writer Bradford Winters, and a sister, Blair Winters.[2][3]

Winters grew up on Long Island and spent his teenage years in Scottsdale, Arizona. He attended Chaparral High School and graduated from Brophy College Preparatory, a Jesuit school in Phoenix, in 1982,[1] and from Colorado College in 1986.[4]


Winters has appeared in two of the Law & Order television series: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where he was a regular in the first season, and as a guest star in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Purgatory". He also made an appearance in Season 2 of the television series Sex And The City as John McFadden. More than ten years after his final appearance on SVU, he again portrayed Detective Brian Cassidy in the 13th-season finale "Rhodium Nights", became a recurring character in the 14th season and, in the 15th season, also became Sergeant Olivia Benson's love interest. He has also made guest appearances on Homicide: Life on the Street, Sex and the City, Third Watch, NYPD Blue, CSI: Miami and as Dennis Duffy in 30 Rock as well as previously having an accompanying role in Rescue Me.

He starred in the 1999 romantic comedy Undercover Angel with Yasmine Bleeth and the 2002 direct-to-video horror film Hellraiser: Hellseeker. He played Tom in PS, I Love You. Winters played Detective Sam Tyler's father in the US version of Life On Mars. He also played Charley Dixon, Sarah Connor's love interest, in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.[5]

Winters performed stand-up comedy at Catch a Rising Star, The Comic Strip, and the Comedy Cellar alongside notable comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Paul Reiser, and Chris Rock. An HBO comedy special led him to the role he portrayed on OZ, the HBO-produced prison drama.

Winters was cast in the ABC drama pilot Happy Town, from the creators of October Road, but was replaced by Steven Weber after shooting the pilot.[6][7]

On June 20, 2010, Winters was introduced as "Mayhem", the recurring character in a new television and radio advertising campaign for Allstate Insurance created by the agency Leo Burnett Chicago.[8] He also played Avi in John Wick. Winters co-starred in one season of the CBS Network cop drama series Battle Creek, playing a small town police force detective opposite Josh Duhamel, the FBI Resident Agent assigned to the town. The series was cancelled in May 2015. Most recently, he reprised his role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine as The Vulture and had a supporting role as a divorce attorney on the HBO series Divorce.[9] In 2018, he was cast as Mr. Town in the second season of Starz American Gods.[10]

Personal life

In June 2009, Winters contracted a bacterial infection and collapsed upon arrival at his doctor's office. While being transported across Central Park in an ambulance, he went into cardiac arrest for over two minutes.[11] Paramedics were able to revive him, and he was hospitalized in intensive care for three weeks.[11]

Over the course of the next year, he developed gangrene, requiring the amputation of two toes and half of one thumb, and ten subsequent operations including a skin graft.[11]

Winters was away from acting until 2010, when Tina Fey brought him back to 30 Rock, and he started work on the Mayhem television commercial campaign.[11]



Year Title Role Notes
1997 Conspiracy Theory Cleet film debut
1997 Lifebreath Chrystie's Lover
1999 Undercover Angel Harrison Tyler
2001 Snipes Bobby Starr
2001 Bullet in the Brain Bank Robber Short film
2002 Hellraiser: Hellseeker Trevor Direct-to-Video
2004 Brooklyn Bound Danny
2004 Love Rome Dean
2006 Bristol Boys Randy
2006 Dead Calling Nick
2007 P.S. I Love You Tom
2009 Winter of Frozen Dreams Ken Curtis
2009 Splinterheads Reggie
2009 Today's Special Steve
2010 Vipers in the Grass Frank Devine Short film
2012 The Worst Night Short film
2013 The Devil You Know Jake Kelly
2013 Memoire Gregor Short film
2014 Don Peyote Gun Dealer
2014 John Wick Avi
2016 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Bartender
2017 Rough Night Detective Frazier
2018 After Everything Blake
2018 Father of the Year Geoff
2019 Framing John DeLorean John Valestra Documentary
2019 A Civilized Life Conway Short film; also Producer
2019 Street Justice Patrick Hannigan pre-production
2019 Lost Girls Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1995–1996 Homicide: Life on the Street Tom Marans Television debut
Recurring role; 3 episodes
1996 NYPD Blue Larry Episode: "Where'd the Van Gogh?"
1996 The Playroom Unknown Television Short
1997 Firehouse Nick Wilkinson Television Movie
1997–1999 Millennium Young Michael Lanyard/Mr. Crocell 2 episodes
1997–2003 Oz Ryan O'Reily Series regular; 56 episodes
1998 New York Undercover Paul Delaney Episode: "Rat Trap"
1999 Sex and the City John McFadden Episode: "The Fuck Buddy"
1999 Saturday Night Live Ryan O'Reily Uncredited; Episode: "Jerry Seinfeld/David Bowie"
1999–2019 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Brian Cassidy Main role; 13 episodes
recurring role; 19 episodes
2001 Deadline Des Lonegan Episode: "Shock"
2002 Third Watch Bill Stram Episode: "The Unforgiven"
2002 The Twilight Zone Gordon Episode: "Future Trade"
2004 Strip Search Ned McGarth Television Movie
2004–2011 Rescue Me Johnny Gavin Main role; 33 episodes
2005 CSI: Miami Raymond Caine Episode: "10-7"
2006–2012 30 Rock Dennis Duffy Recurring role; 15 episodes

Nominated – Gold Derby award for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Nominated – Online Film & Television Association award for Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

2008 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Mike Stoat Episode: "Purgatory"
2008–2009 Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Charley Dixon Recurring role; 9 episodes
2008–2009 Life on Mars Vic Tyler Recurring role; 3 episodes
2012 Up All Night Casey Brinkley Episode: "Preschool Auction"
2013 Westside Robbie Carver Television Movie
2013–2019 Brooklyn Nine-Nine Detective Keith 'The Vulture' Pembroke Recurring role; 9 episodes
2014 American Dad! Uncredited voice role; Episode: "News Glances with Genevieve Vavance"
2015 Battle Creek Russ Agnew Main role; 13 episodes
2016 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Bunny Episode: "Kimmy Kidnaps Gretchen!"
2016–2018 Divorce Tony Silvercreek Recurring role; 6 episodes
2017 Tangled: The Series Andrew Voice role; Episode: "Under Raps"
2019 Berlin Station Episode: "The Dream of the Four Policemen"
2019 Wayne Daddy Recurring roles; 6 episodes
2019 American Gods Mr. Town Episode: "The Beguiling Man"


  1. ^ a b c "Meet Mayhem: The Man Who Made Insurance Interesting". Business Insider. April 19, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2014.
  2. ^ "Dean Winters' profile at". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  3. ^ "Scott William Winters' profile at". IMDb. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  4. ^ "Dean Winters Married, Wife, Divorce, Girlfriend or Gay". Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  5. ^ "Dean Winters: Charley Dixon". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  6. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2009-02-22). "Slew of pilots flesh out casts". Archived from the original on February 27, 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  7. ^ "Guide". Retrieved 2010-05-20.
  8. ^ "2010: Allstate disrupts insurance industry with introduction of "Mayhem"". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  9. ^ "Dean Winters: Tony Silvercreek". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  10. ^ "Dean Winters cast as Mr. Town in the second season of 'American Gods'". Dealine. June 4, 2018. Retrieved July 21, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d "Dean Winters' amazing journey back from death". New York Post. June 18, 2010. Retrieved September 30, 2012.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 May 2019, at 00:23
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