Deshabandu Gammana Patabendige Don John "Joe" Abeywickrama (Sinhala:ජෝ අබේවික්රම) (22 June 1927 – 21 September 2011), known as Joe Abeywickrama, was an award-winning Sri Lankan actor. He began acting in 1955 and achieved fame as a comedic actor. Since 1965, Abeywickrama has also done dramatic roles.
He has won 18 Sarasavi Awards and Presidential Awards. At the 1999 Singapore International Film Festival, Abeywickrama won a Silver Screen Award for Best Asian Actor for his portrayal of a grieving father in Pura Handa Kaluwara (English: Death on a Full Moon Day), a first for a Sri Lankan. He is considered by many to be the finest character actor the country has produced
He is also widely known as a Crowned king of Sri Lankan cinema history and he was the second to die of the three crowned cinema heroes. (the first cinema king to die was Gamini Fonseka and last of three to die was Tony Ranasinghe. He is the first Sri Lankan actor to ever participated for Filmfare Film Festival, where he participated in 1966.
Gammana Patabendige Don John "Joe" Abeywickrama was born in Lellopitiya (near Ratnapura), Sri Lanka and grew up in a rural area. He was the eldest of four children. His surroundings instilled in him a strong appreciation of nature and hard work.
Abeywickrama graduated from St.Aloysius' College and Sivali Central College in Ratnapura. In the 1940s he settled in Colombo and started working for Sirisena Wimalaweera's studio Nawajeewana. Initially limited to doing office chores, Abeywickrama eventually became involved in films screened in Ratnapura by the studio. He made contacts with film industry insiders while with the studio, and on his leave obtained a role in Devasundari.
Abeywickrama has acted in more than 100 films and began his acting career in stage plays and made his film acting debut in ‘Devasundari’ in 1955. Abeywickrama's first notable role was in Saradama as an eccentric police officer who collected ants. He obtained the role with the help of his friend Florida Jayalath and considers it to be his first real role and a turning point in his career. After Saradama Abeywickrama was in demand as a comedic actor.
Abeywickrama began taking more dramatic roles with Shesha Palihakkara's Saravita, an award winning film. With D. B. Nihalsinghe's Welikathara Abeywickrama continued in this field. In the 1971 film he portrays the stern Goring Mudalali. He also starred in Mahagama Sekera's Tun Man Handiya in 1970.
Abeywickrama published his first novel Maha Bambata Muhunu Dekai in 1972.
Until his death, he has acted in 172 films where 62 of them as leading actor and rest 110 as a supporting actor.