PORTLAND, Maine — A birthday is as good a reason as any for Ray Wise to flash his trademark devilish grin.

The veteran actor turns 72 on August 20, 2019. He keeps his work schedule so jam-packed, a younger man would have trouble keeping pace.

For the past several years, Wise has played a supporting role as the kooky neighbor on the sitcom "Fresh Off the Boat." The show returns with new episodes on September 27 for its sixth season.

Wise also has several movie projects in various stages of completion. His ability to adapt across formats and genres has allowed him to enjoy a long and varied career.

Wise played big roles on landmark TV series like "Twin Peaks" and "Mad Men." And he can also be seen in massive action blockbusters like "Robocop" and "X-Men: First Class."

But it was his role in a small independent movie in 2015 that brought Wise to Maine. "Night of the Living Deb" is a romantic comedy set during a zombie apocalypse. 

The movie was the vision of the director, Kyle Rankin. As a native Mainer, he he decided there was no better place to unleash his zombies than his home state. 

Leaning on the rapport they had formed by working together on previous projects, Rankin convinced Wise to join his cast. They collaborated closely through production and the publicity tour which included an interview on NEWS CENTER Maine's "207." And of course, they walked the red carpet together for the premiere screening at the Nickelodeon Theater in Portland.

RELATED: "Night of the Living Deb" premieres

Wise made several more Maine connections through TV guest appearances over the span of his career.

  • 1982: "Dallas" costarring Barbara Bel Geddes who retired to Northeast Harbor
  • 1988: "L.A. Law" costarring Richard Dysart from Skowhegan
  • 1989: "Star Trek: The Next Generation" costarring Jonathan Frakes who lived for several years in Belfast
  • 1999: "Diagnosis Murder" costarring Victoria Rowell from Portland
  • 2012: "Rizzoli and Isles" adapted from books by Tess Gerritsen who now lives in Camden