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Brion Howard James
February 20, 1945
|Died||August 7, 1999 (aged 54)|
Malibu, California, U.S.
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
Brion Howard James (February 20, 1945 – August 7, 1999) was an American character actor. He portrayed Leon Kowalski in Blade Runner, and appeared in Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs., Another 48 Hrs., Silverado, Tango & Cash, Red Heat, The Player, and The Fifth Element. James was frequently cast as an antagonist, appearing more frequently in lower-budget horror and action films and TV shows throughout the 1980s and 1990s. James appeared in more than 100 films before he died of a heart attack at the age of 54.
Early life and education
James was born in Redlands, California. He spent his early years in Beaumont, California, where his parents owned and operated a movie theater; James said, "My story is like Cinema Paradiso. Every night in my life since I was 2 years old... I ran movies". After graduating from high school in 1964, James attended San Diego State University as a Theater Arts major. Migrating to New York, James immersed himself in the theatre scene, taking on bit roles here and there.
In 1975, James landed a small role in the made-for-television film, The Kansas City Massacre, playing John Dillinger gang member Homer Van Meter. Higher profile roles followed in 1976, with his casting in Nickelodeon and Harry and Walter Go to New York. James also appeared in the television miniseries Roots and popular 1970s shows such as Gunsmoke, The Incredible Hulk, Mork and Mindy, Chico and the Man, CHiPs.
James's career took a sudden upturn in the early 1980s with roles in Southern Comfort and 48 Hrs. (which were both directed by Walter Hill), but it was his performance as Leon Kowalski in the 1982 film Blade Runner that gave him his greatest, most lasting fame. James followed this up with roles in Enemy Mine, Flesh + Blood, A Breed Apart, Silverado, Armed and Dangerous, Red Heat, Steel Dawn, Red Scorpion, Tango & Cash, and Showdown. James had guest spots in the television shows Benson, Quincy, M.E., The A-Team, Little House on the Prairie, The Dukes of Hazzard, Matlock, Miami Vice, Hunter, along with the Hunter take off Sledge Hammer!, and Dynasty. In the 1990s, he appeared in Highlander: The Series, and as Sheriff Bowman in the Millennium season 2 episode "Luminary". He lent his voice to the character of Parasite in Superman: The Animated Series. In 1982, he was in the made-for-TV-movie Hear No Evil as Billy Boy Burns.
James starred in the low-budget 1989 supernatural horror film The Horror Show (aka House III), where he played serial killer "Meat Cleaver Max" Jenke. In 1994, he played a grouchy sponsor who became a victim of the gruesome goings-on during a 1939 radio show in the film Radioland Murders. Near the end of his career, he appeared as the amiable General Munro in The Fifth Element (1997). Two months before his death, James reprised his role as Parasite in Superman 64, a video game based on Superman: The Animated Series.
Concerning his talent for playing villains in films, he stated in an interview in Fangoria magazine, "I consider myself a classical character actor like Lon Chaney, Wallace Beery, Charles Laughton. I always like to play bad guys. I'm real good at psychotic behavior."
|1974||Get Christie Love!||Hopper|
|1976||Harry and Walter Go to New York||'Hayseed'|
|1976||Treasure of Matecumbe||Roustabout|
|1976||Bound for Glory||Pick-Up Truck Driver At Border|
|1978||Corvette Summer||Jeff (Wayne's Carwash Henchman)|
|1978||Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park||Park Security Guard|
|1980||Wholly Moses!||Guard At Banquet|
|1980||The Jazz Singer||Man In Bar|
|1981||The Postman Always Rings Twice||Crapshooter|
|1981||Soggy Bottom, U.S.A.||Defalice|
|1982||Blade Runner||Leon Kowalski|
|1982||48 Hrs.||Ben 'The Iceman' Kehoe|
|1982||The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez||Captain Rogers|
|1984||A Breed Apart||Peyton|
|1985||Flesh & Blood||Karsthans|
|1986||Armed and Dangerous||Tony Lazarus|
|1988||Dead Man Walking||Decker|
|1988||The Wrong Guys||Glen Grunski|
|1988||Nightmare at Noon (aka: Death Street USA)||'The Albino'|
|1988||Red Scorpion||Sergeant Miroslav Krasnov|
|1989||The Horror Show||Max Jenke|
|1989||Circles in a Forest||Mr. Patterson|
|1989||Tango & Cash||Requin|
|1990||Enid Is Sleeping||Trucker|
|1990||Street Asylum||Reverend Mony|
|1990||Another 48 Hrs.||Ben 'The Iceman' Kehoe|
|1991||Ultimate Desires||Wolfgang Friedman|
|1992||The Player||Joel Levison|
|1992||Wishman||Staten Jack Rose|
|1992||Frogtown II||Professor Tanzer|
|1993||Brainsmasher... A Love Story||Brown||Video|
|1993||Striking Distance||Detective Eddie Eiler|
|1993||Showdown||Vice Principal Kowalski|
|1993||The Dark||Paul Buckner|
|1994||Cabin Boy||'Big Teddy'|
|1994||Future Shock||Jack Porter|
|1994||F.T.W.||Sheriff Rudy Morgan|
|1994||Art Deco Detective||Jim Wexler|
|1994||Radioland Murders||Bernie King|
|1994||The Soft Kill||Ben McCarthy|
|1994||Hong Kong '97||Simon Alexander|
|1995||The Nature of the Beast||Sheriff Gordon|
|1995||Steel Frontier||General J.W. Quantrell|
|1995||Cyberjack (aka: Virtual Assassin)||Nassim|
|1995||The Marshal||Chief Marshal Ollie Mathers|
|1995||Indecent Behavior III||Mr. Cowed||Uncredited|
|1996||The Lazarus Man||Tom Halloran|
|1996||Precious Find||Sam Horton|
|1996||Billy Lone Bear||Walsh|
|1997||The Killing Jar||Dr. Vincent Garret|
|1997||Back in Business||Emery Ryker|
|1997||The Fifth Element||General Munro|
|1997||Snide and Prejudice||Hermann Goering|
|1997||The Setting Son||Junior|
|1997||Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills||Salvador Dalí / Sam|
|1997||The Underground||Captain Hilton|
|1998||Jekyll Island||Lawton Goodyear|
|1998||Deadly Ransom||Bobby Rico|
|1998||In God's Hands||Captain|
|1998||Border to Border||Card Shark|
|1998||Kai Rabe gegen die Vatikankiller||Mönch|
|1998||Joseph's Gift||Frank Childress|
|1998||Black Sea 213||Captain Killick|
|1998||A Place Called Truth||Hank|
|1999||Foolish||Ruben Reyes, Talent Scout||Uncredited|
|1999||Diplomatic Siege||General Stubbs||Posthumous release|
|1999||Dirt Merchant||Detective Harry Ball|
|2000||Farewell, My Love||Renault|
|2000||The Operator||Vernon Woods|
|2000||The King Is Alive||Ashley|
|2000||The Thief & the Stripper||Shoe|
|2005||Phoenix Point||Spider Rico||Posthumous release|
Final film role
|1974||The Waltons||Henry Ferris Jr.||Episode: "The Birthday"|
|1975||Gunsmoke||Joe Barnes||Episode: "Manolo"|
|1977||The Rockford Files||Clamshell||Episode: "The Battle of Canoga Park"|
|1978||Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park||Second-in-command park security||TV movie|
|1978||The Incredible Hulk||Al||Episode: "Alice in Disco Land"|
|1978||Mork & Mindy||George||Episode: "Mork's Greatest Hit"|
|1978||Chico and the Man||Hog||Episode: "Waiting for Chongo"|
|1979||B. J. and the Bear||Bomber / Patrol Officer||2 episodes|
|1979–1981||CHiPs||Ackerman / Monk||3 episodes|
|1980||Galactica 1980||Willy||Episode: "Galactica Discovers Earth: Part 1"|
|1980||The Jeffersons||Dirty Dog||Episode: "The Arrival: Part 2"|
|1981||Benson||Axe-Man||Episode: "The Grass Ain't Greener"|
|1982||Little House on the Prairie||Amos||Episode: "A Faraway Cry"|
|1982||Quincy, M.E.||Henry Muller||Episode: "Sleeping Dogs"|
|1982||Hear No Evil||Billy Boy Burns||TV movie|
|1982–1984||The Dukes of Hazzard||Captain Slater / Jenkins||2 episodes|
|1983||The Gambler: The Adventure Continues||Reece||TV movie|
|1983–1985||The A-Team||David Plout / Ryder||2 episodes|
|1985||The Fall Guy||Episode: "The King of the Stuntmen"|
|1985||Amazing Stories||Willie Joe||Episode: "Mummy Daddy"|
|1986||Annihilator||Alien Leader||TV movie|
|1986–1988||Sledge Hammer!||Don Merrill / Felix Ridel||2 episodes|
|1987||Matlock||Mr. Grock||Episode: "The Author"|
|1987||The Hitchhiker||Lionel||Episode: "Best Shot"|
|1988||Miami Vice||Edward Reese||Episode: " Borrasca"|
|1988–1991||Hunter||Thomas Duffy / Lt. Jeff Wadsworth||2 episodes|
|1991||Tales from the Crypt||Steve Dixon||Episode: "Split Second"|
|1992–1993||Batman: The Animated Series||Irving||Voice|
|1993||Renegade||Eli Starke||Episode: "Moody River"|
|1993||Rio Diablo||Jake Walker||TV movie|
|1994||Silk Stalkings||Rupert Tarlow||Episode: "T.K.O."|
|1994||Knight Rider 2010||Jared||TV movie|
|1994||Highlander: The Series||Armand Thorne||Episode: "The Cross of St. Antoine"|
|1996||Aaahh!!! Real Monsters||Big Orderly / Chimera||Voice|
|1996||Assault on Dome 4||Chairman||TV movie|
|1996–1997||Superman: The Animated Series||Rudy Jones / Parasite||Voice|
|1997||Walker, Texas Ranger||Rafer Cobb||2 episodes|
|1997–1999||Todd McFarlane's Spawn||Voice|
|1998||Millennium||Sheriff Bowman||Episode: "Luminary"|
|1998||Men in White||General||TV movie|
|1998||Men in Black: The Series||Drekk||Voice|
|1998–1999||The Magnificent Seven||Stuart James||2 episodes|
|1997||Blade Runner||Leon Kowalski||Voice|
- Craig Edwards (Spring 1995). "Brion James; Interview by Craig Edwards". Psychotronic Video. 20: 60–64.
- "Brion James". AllMovie. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
- Zekas, Rita (May 27, 1993). "His familiar face changes with every new film script". Toronto Star. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
- Terrace 1985, p. 188.
- "Hear No Evil". Turner Classic Movies. United States: Turner Broadcasting System. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
- Terrace 2011, p. 445.
- "Brion James Interview by Craig Edwards on December 1, 2010". Psychotronic.com. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011.
- "Character Actor Brion James Dies at Age 54". The Washington Post. 19 August 1999. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
- Allan Hunter (2 June 2000). "The King Is Alive". Screen Daily. Retrieved 5 May 2020.
- Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials. 2 (1st ed.). New York City: Zoetrope Publishing. p. 188. ISBN 978-0918432612.
- Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). New York City: McFarland and Company. p. 445. ISBN 978-0786464777.