The man behind on of the most distinctive voices in Hollywood was born William James Remar was born December 31st 1953 in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. At the age of seven years old he watched Spartacus and decided he wanted to become an actor.
Following training at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse and a successful Broadway run on on Bent, Remar got his first big screen break came in the role of Larson in 1978’s On The Yard but his first appearance on the Cult Faction radar would take place a year later thanks to his role as Ajax in Walter Hill’s The Warriors, a movie which maintains a strong cult following to this day.
“That’s why I take on a variety of roles. I’ve played everything from a gay dancer in Cruising to Dutch Schultz in The Cotton Club. James Remar is a student of life. I’m expressing myself by acting. I’m learning about myself and making a living. I hope to do much more of it, so I can contribute my share to the world”
Showing his versatility, Remar starred in the 1980 film Windwalker as a young Cheyenne Windwalker where he spoke all his lines in the Cheyenne language. He also demonstrated his range and willingness to push himself as an actor by playing a gay man in the 1980 film Cruising.
That same year, Remar had a cameo in the Western The Long Riders where he faced David Carradine‘s character in a bar fight over his character’s wife. The scene has been viewed as many as the best knife fight in cinema history.
TV beckoned for the first time in 1981 with an appearance on Hill Street Blues as Cooper:
In 1982 Remar hooked up once again with director Walter Hill for the role of Albert Ganz in 48 Hrs. He stated:
“I was really thrilled and honored and wanted to do the best job I could. But afterwards, I started getting a lot of bad guy offers and became concerned about being typecast. I did not want to be seen as that kind of guy all the time because a lot of those roles are not well written. They’re there merely to drive the action and give the protagonist something to do. So it becomes incredibly repetitive and boring. (On 48 Hours)”
Remar also played real-life 1930s-era gangster Dutch Schultz in 1984’s The Cotton Club.
1986 was an eventful year for Remar, he starred in Quiet Cool and was then cast as Corporal Hicks in the science-fiction/horror film Aliens, but was replaced by Michael Biehn shortly after filming began, due to Remar having a drug problem.
For several years, the reason behind his dismissal was reported as “creative differences” with director James Cameron. At least one piece of footage featuring Remar made it into the final version of the film: when the Marines enter the processing station, and the camera tilts down from the Alien nest, though Remar is not seen in close-up. He is also filmed from the back as the Marines first enter the compound on LV-426 and when “Hicks” approaches the cocooned woman, again filmed from the rear so the viewer is unable to tell it is Remar and not Michael Biehn.
Roles in Drugstore Cowboy, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie, Wedlock, Boys on the Side , The Phantom, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, RoboWarriors, Psycho, The Quest, Rites of Passage, Hellraiser: Inferno, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fear X, Blade: Trinity and The Girl Next Door filled the late 90’s and early 2000’s for Remar.
Remar was no stranger to television either with appearances on Miami Vice, Sex and the City, Tales from the Crypt, Jericho, Third Watch, Justice League Unlimited, and Battlestar Galactica. He also appeared as a possessed mental patient in the X-Files ninth season episode “Daemonicus”.
Remar starred as Tiny Bellows on the short-lived television series, The Huntress (2000-2001) and also appeared in the miniseries The Grid (2004) as Hudson “Hud”, the love interest of Julianna Margulies’ character. He had a recurring guest role in the 2006 television series Jericho on CBS. Remar guest-starred in the CBS crime drama Numb3rs, playing a weapons dealer who later turns good and helps the FBI.
Another cameo for Remar took place in 2008’s Pineapple Express where he played General Bratt in the movie’s prologue.
Then came The Unborn, X-Men: First Class, Transformers: Dark of the Moon , Setup, February, and Arena.
From 2006 to 2013, Remar co-starred in Dexter on Showtime. Remar was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dexter Morgan’s adoptive father, Harry Morgan.
In 2010, he played guest roles as Giuseppe Salvatore in The CW series The Vampire Diaries and as James Ermine, a general for Jericho, a black-ops military contractor, on FlashForward.
He also voiced Vilgax in the animated television series Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, replacing Steve Blum. He guest-starred in Private Practice in 2010, playing a physician named Gibby who works with Doctors Without Borders.
In 2012, Remar played two different, unrelated characters in Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained (2012): his first character, Ace Speck, is killed near the beginning of the film by lead character, King Schultz (played by Christoph Waltz); Remar’s second character, Butch Pooch, kills King Schultz near the end of the film.
“Any good actor is a character actor.”
James won the 8th annual SAG award as a member of the Outstanding Comedy Ensemble for his work in Sex and the City. As a member of the ensemble cast of Dexter, James has been nominated for the SAG award and the Emmy. In recognition for his work in Sci-Fi Fantasy and Horror James was honored with the Saturn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.