Currently, Burke is a castmember on Denis Leary's Rescue Me and plays Bart Bass on The CW's Gossip Girl. Recently, he was working on the TV series Kidnapped for NBC and was a featured character on ABC's series Six Degrees. Burke has also had recurring roles on Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (where he has the recurring role of NYPD Internal Affairs lieutenant Ed Tucker, a frequent nemesis for the SVU detective squad), and appeared on The Sopranos in 2004. He was also on Sex and the City in seasons 4 and 5 playing Miranda's hookup. Also, in 2004 Burke played the role of Mr. Neck in the independent film Speak.
Burke's largest mainstream role to date has been taking over the lead from Peter Weller in RoboCop 3. He is notable for being a regular performer in fellow Purchase alum Hal Hartley's indie films, such as 1989's The Unbelievable Truth and 1992's Simple Men. He also had a small role in Hartley's 1995 film Flirt.
He starred in Richard Stanley's 1993 film Dust Devil, and in 2001's No Such Thing, in which he plays a foul-mouthed mythical beast living in Iceland. In 1996, he played the lead role in the Stephen King adaptation Thinner. More recently, 2005 was a big year for Burke, having had a small yet memorable role in the John Polson film, Hide and Seek, a psychological thriller, starring Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. He also had small roles in the Academy Award-nominated films Munich directed by Steven Spielberg and Good Night, and Good Luck, directed by George Clooney.
In 2008, he portrayed Major General James Mattis, Commanding General of 1st Marine Division in the HBO miniseries Generation Kill. Burke also portrayed Gen. Ned Almond, commanding general of the 92nd Div., Buffalo Soldiers, in the 2008 Spike Lee film Miracle at St. Anna.
Burke was born in New York City, the son of immigrants from Galway, Ireland. He attended the Acting Conservatory at SUNY Purchase in the mid-1980s.
Burke spent several days at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks assisting with the search and rescue. He has since become a New York State certified fire fighter. He also recently traveled to New Orleans to assist in the re-building of New Orleans fire houses.
He holds a 3rd degree black belt in Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu Okinawan Karate. He has a twin brother, who made a cameo appearance in Richard Stanley's 1993 film Dust Devil, playing his twin.
Frequently plays unfriendly square-jawed, growly-voiced suits, commonly Feds or gangsters, who always seem to be foiling the protagonists.
- Attended the acting conservatory of the State University of New York at Purchase (SUNY Purchase).
- Became a fully certified NYFD fire fighter after helping with the rescue efforts during 9/11.
- Burke is the only RoboCop actor who has not portrayed Murphy in any capacity prior to his death.
[Talking about RoboCop 3]: "Peter Weller really defined the character in terms of movement. But there's always room for reinterpretation."