Born on New Year’s Eve 1953, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, James Remar is known for his voiceover work and roles in “The Warriors”, “The Cotton Club”, and “Sex and the City” to name a few. The versatile actor studied at New York City’s Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre; in 1984, he married the Japanese businesswoman Atsuko Remar, with whom he shares two children named Jason and Lisa.
Despite James effortlessly playing the villain role for most of his film career, his movie debut came in 1978 with a minor role in “On the Yard”. Just a year later, his portrayal of a violent gang member named Ajax in the Walter Hill cult classic “The Warriors” propelled him into stardom. In the same year, he played Eric Leeder in the obscure movie “Blond Poison”.
In 1980, James had roles in “Cruising”, “The Long Riders”, and “Windwalker”. In the first movie, he played a gay man named Gregory, whereas in “Windwalker” he spoke his lines in the Cheyenne language. A year later, he guest-starred in an episode of “Hill Street Blues”.
After a secondary role in “Partners”, James teamed up with Walter Hill yet again to play the sociopathic murderer Albert Ganz in “48 Hrs.”. Just two years later, he played a 1930s gangster named Dutch Schultz in “The Cotton Club” (1984), and had a role in the TV movie “The Mystic Warrior”. The rest of the 1980s saw James guest star in “Miami Vice”, “The Equalizer”, and “Crime Story”, play John Sikes in the TV movie “Desperado: The Outlaw Wars”, and star in the 1986 movie “Quiet Cool”.
James was originally cast as Corporal Hicks in the 1986 hit movie “Aliens”; however, he was replaced by Michael Biehn shortly after filming began (James would later reveal that his drug addiction was the cause of his replacement, and not creative differences, which was the official story). Around the same time, he had roles in “Rent-a-Cop”, “The Clan of the Cave Bear”, and “Drugstore Cowboy”; from comedy thrillers to action and adventure films, the Massachusetts native was snowed under with work and found himself becoming a major celebrity.
The actor’s first role of the 1990s was playing Wolfgang Reiger in the TV movie “Kojak: None So Blind”, which was followed by his portrayal of Sergeant Thomas Mackey in “Night Visions”. Other TV movies he starred in throughout the 1990s are “Indecency”, “Strangers”, “Cutty Whitman”, and “Session Man”.
With that said, James continued to have secondary and leading roles in big-time productions. In 1996, he played one of the main villains in Simon Wincer’s superhero movie “The Phantom”. A year later, he had a role as Lord Raiden in the first “Mortal Kombat” sequel, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation”, having replaced Christopher Lambert. Shortly afterwards, he played Ray Gibson in the sci-fi movie “Robo Warriors” and a patrolman in “Psycho”.
Towards the end of the 1990s, James’s career continued to go from strength to strength. 2000 was a particularly eventful year for the actor as he had important roles in “Double Frame”, “The Base 2: Guilty as Charged”, “Hellraiser: Inferno”, and “Blowback”. He also landed his second recurring role in television upon joining the cast of “The Huntress” to play Tiny Bellows; three years earlier, he played Frank Cisco in 13 episodes of “Total Security”.
Well into the second decade of his career, James continued to have significant roles in film and TV, with some of his greatest works including performances in “2 Fast 2 Furious”, “Blade: Trinity”, “The Girl Next Door”, and “Ratatouille”. The Hollywood heavyweight also played General Bratt in “Pineapple Express” and starred alongside C.S. Lee in “The Unborn”. Meanwhile, he guest-starred in “The X Files”, “Nash Bridges”, and “Strong Medicine”, and had recurring roles in “Sex and the City”, “North Shore”, and “Third Watch”.
DEXTER (Season 8) James Remar as Harry Morgan and Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan in Dexter (Season 8, episode 10) – Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime – Photo ID: Dexter_810_2131 Copyright: Showtime 2013
From 2006 to 2012, James enjoyed a leading role as Harry Morgan in 96 episodes of the Showtime crime drama series “Dexter”. The role earned him a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In 2012, he played two characters in the Quentin Tarantino blockbuster “Django Unchained”; three years later, he starred alongside Lauren Holly, Lucy Boynton, and Emma Roberts in the thriller “The Blackcoat’s Daughter”.
James’s last three movie roles were in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, “Dead Reckoning”, and “The Noel Diary”, which premiered between 2019 and 2022. The actor is currently in the middle of filming for “Megalopolis”, a science fiction drama written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The star-studded ensemble cast includes Jon Voight, Forest Whittaker, and Aubrey Plaza; for now, not much has been revealed regarding the storyline.
As for TV work, James starred in “Black Lightning” from 2018 to 2021 and has since done voiceover work and had recurring roles in various series. Most recently, the actor played Lt. Newman in episodes of “Paul T. Goldman” and Richy Ryan in “City on a Hill”. The Massachusetts native is currently filming for “Welcome to Derry”, a horror series that serves as a prequel to the “It” movies.
It’s important to note that James is a member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). The labor union recently declared a strike in the midst of its ongoing dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP); this marks the first time that actors have initiated a labor dispute in the U.S since 1980, and the first time actors and writers have both gone on strike since 1960 (the Writers Guild of America strike began in May 2023).
Rules established by SAG-AFTRA in July 2023 dictate that, during the strike, actors are forbidden from taking part in promotional work or engaging in film or TV productions. This rules out interviews, red carpet events, or press meets, meaning that James – and the 160,000 other members of SAG-AFTRA – will have to put his projects on hold for the foreseeable future.
Despite the negative impact that the latest events will have on Hollywood, the “Django Unchained” star’s pockets will likely remain unhurt by the strike, which is set to drag on until early 2024 unless members of SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP can reach an agreement. With an estimated $5 million net worth, the charismatic actor is in no rush to get back to work anytime soon.