Faison started his acting career in 1974 in the New York Shakespeare Festival production of King Lear, with James Earl Jones in the title role. Faison would later appear opposite Jones in the Broadway premiere of Fences, for which he received a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. Faison's next role came in TV, in the short-lived series Hot Hero Sandwich in 1979. Faison did not make it to the big screen until 1980, when he appeared in Permanent Vacation as "Man in Lobby". A string of small roles followed until 1986, when he played the part of Lt. Fisk in Manhunter. Also that year, he appeared in the comedy The Money Pit, as an unruly construction worker, and in the Stephen King film Maximum Overdrive. In 1988, he appeared alongside Eddie Murphy and James Earl Jones in Coming to America in the role of a landlord and won a minor role in the 1989 Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing. Faison also appeared in 1996's "The Rich Man's Wife" as Detective Ron Lewis. He also appeared in the 1999 remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" as Detective Paretti. Faison is notable for being the most frequent actor to appear in adaptations of Thomas Harris' Hannibal books: along with Manhunter, he also appeared as Lector's jailer Barney in The Silence of the Lambs, the sequel Hannibal and the prequel Red Dragon.