Wilson made his screen debut portraying characters suspected of murder in his first three films. In his debut film, Wilson played a murder suspect in 1967's In the Heat of the Night, which starred Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger and Warren Oates His follow-up role, in the same year, was In Cold Blood, based on the book of the same name by Truman Capote. Wilson portrays real-life murderer Richard Hickock, while Robert Blake played his partner, Perry Smith. Director Richard Brooks cast Wilson and Blake in the starring roles specifically because they were unknown at the time.] The director passed over better-known actors, including Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, for the parts. Wilson later explained Brooks' casting motivations: "Brooks hired two 'unknowns' and he wanted to keep it that way. We were treated like two killers he had somehow run across." Wilson appeared in Sparta on March 15th, 2014 to celebrate the city's 175th anniversary in reference to his debut appearance in the film.
The film earned Wilson an appearance on the cover of Life Magazine, published on May 12, 1967. Wilson was just 24 years old at the time. The cover features Truman Capote standing between Wilson and Blake on an empty highway in Kansas. The caption, Nightmare Revisited, appears with them on the cover. Wilson appeared in The Great Gatsby in 1974 opposite Robert Redford. He received a 1980 Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Ninth Configuration by director and friend William Peter Blatty. He lost the Golden Globe to Timothy Hutton. In 1995 Wilson got attention for his role as a prison chaplain in Dead Man Walking, starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, based on the book of the same name by Sister Helen Prejean.
Wilson's long filmography also includes The Gypsy Moths, The Right Stuff, A Year of the Quiet Sun, Malone, The Grass Harp, Junebug, The Host, Monster, Young Guns II, Pearl Harbor, Big Stan, Judge Dredd, the Shiloh film series and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. Wilson has filmed on location in South Korea, Japan and Spain. Wilson had a recurring role in several episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as Sam Braun, father of crime-scene investigator Catherine Willows (portrayed by Marg Helgenberger). Braun was killed off in the episode "Built to Kill, Part 2". In the fall of 2011 he also made an appearance opposite Laura Dern in the HBO series, Enlightened.
Wilson was cast as veterinarian, Hershel Greene in the second season of The Walking Dead in June 2011. The role has earned him positive reviews, including a "cheer" from TV Guide, which wrote that he had contributed "subtle shades of humanity to the character of Hershel Greene. Wilson was offered the opportunity to join the show while visiting his 97-year-old mother in Georgia. He has described his mother as "a fan of the show." Wilson left the show in December 2013 after his character was killed off in the Season 4 Mid-Season Finale, Too Far Gone.
Since leaving the Walking Dead, Wilson has filmed a reoccurring role on the Amazon TV series, BOSCH. Wilson portrayed the villainous “John Lyons” on “DAMIEN” a series based on the classic horror film, THE OMEN, which aired on A&E. In addition Scott recently starred in the hit NETFLIX series “THE OA” as “Abel Johnson”, the father of the title character. “THE OA” was number 1 on NETFLIX in views, as well as #1 on IMDB.COM. Series two is set to go into production later this year.
The Walking Dead