James Remar

  • Born: December 31, 1953
  • Birthplace: Massachusetts
  • Best Movie: The Warriors
  • Best Series: Dexter

James Remar is one of those actors you love to hate. You’ve seen him in countless movies and series (like Dexter or Gotham), often playing a baddie, though not always. While the name might not be familiar, the face surely could be.

He plays his bad guy roles with relish, and thankfully for those who can appreciate a good bad guy, it doesn’t look like he has any plans of abandoning evil.

Let’s take a look at James Remar’s career, where it’s been, and where it’s going.


James Remar

It was the cult-classic film The Warriors where James Remar made his first impression. It was his second movie, (On the Yard was his first), but The Warriors was a movie that moved the needle in so many directions.

The violence the movie caused after its premiere was astounding. The story was simple enough: The head honcho of New York’s most powerful gang requests a meeting between gang leaders in order to form a truce. He hopes that their coming together could overrun the police, whom they outnumber three-to-one.

At this meeting, though, the gang leader is murdered and Remar’s gang, The Warriors, is blamed for the assassination. The remainder of the story finds the Warriors on the run from every New York gang, large and small. They attempt to get back to their home turf safely, while also trying to prove their innocence.

James Remar wasn’t the big bad in this, though his character was psychotic. This off-kilter character would serve as the template for the rest of his career.


James Remar

James Remar would add to his bad guy persona, somewhat defined by his role in The Warriors, by playing the antagonist in 48 Hrs., The Cotton Club, The Dream Team, Drugstore Cowboy, Phantom, and the silly Fatal Instinct. He even played smarmy Jack Duff in the 1994 remake of A Miracle on 34th Street.

The Dream Team
James Remar in The Dream Team

When James Remar was asked about his many villain roles, he claimed it’s not something he is overly thrilled with. “I was really thrilled and honored (after being cast in 48 Hrs), but afterward, I started getting a lot of bad guy offers and became concerned about being typecast. I didn’t want to be seen as that kind of guy because a lot of those roles are not well written. They’re there only to drive the action and give the protagonist something to do. So, it becomes repetitive and boring,” the actor said via TVOvermind.

But it wasn’t all “bad” for James Remar. He went against typecasting in the movie Quiet Cool, where he played a New York cop helping out an old friend solve the murder of her relatives.


James Remar in Aliens

James Remar also had a part in one of the biggest science-fiction horror movies of all time: James Cameron’s Aliens. He was chosen by the director to play Corporal Dwayne Hicks, a role that Michael Biehn took over a week into filming. Remar lost the role, being fired after he was arrested for drug possession.

Still, there are remnants of James Remar in Aliens. He can be seen in several scenes, ones that were too expensive to re-shoot, but were kept in because he could only be spotted from the back.

Michael Biehn
Michael Biehn in Aliens

James Remar did eventually speak about his lost role on Aliens in a Sidebar podcast via Indiewire, “I had a terrible drug problem, but I got through it. I had a great career and personal life, and messed it up with a terrible drug habit… I was initially cast as Corporal Hicks, and I was fired after a couple weeks of filming because I got busted for possession of drugs, and Michael Biehn replaced me.”

His drug problem also ruined his relationship with director Walter Hill, who had hired Remar for The Warriors. He explained, “[Walter Hill] didn’t hire me again for twelve years,” Remar said. “And I know why – because I made him look bad. Y’know, it was fucked up.”

Mortal Kombat
James Remar in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

Up until 2006, James Remar would continue in similar roles, mainly bad with a smattering of good. He took over for Christopher Lambert as Raiden in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, a movie that was widely panned by fans and critics alike.

While James Remar spent a lot of time on the big screen, he did begin to cross over to the small screen. He was seen in Total Security, Walker, Texas Ranger, 18 Wheels of Justice, Nash Bridges, 7th Heaven, The Huntress, The X-Files, Third Watch, and Sex and the City.


James Remar

James Remar played Harry Morgan, the deceased adoptive father to America’s favorite serial killer, on Dexter. The Showtime series ran for eight seasons and though Remar’s character was dead, he was seen in each and every episode spewing wisdom and advice to Dexter.

Dexter would look to Harry Morgan when he was about to kill and James Remar would continue this role until the original series finale, where his ghost sees Dexter spare serial killer Oliver Saxon. Harry feels his job is done with Dexter and that Dexter no longer needs him. So he bids his adopted son farewell.

Harry Morgan on Dexter
Michael C. Hall and James Remar in Dexter

And as far as the Dexter story and franchise were concerned, this move was permanent. James Remar didn’t appear in Dexter: New Blood, the 10-episode reboot with Michael C. Hall back in the titular role.


James Remar

James Remar’s run on Dexter ended seven years ago. That’s a lot of time for an actor to get in more work, which Remar has done. As Dexter was wrapping, Remar grabbed himself a recurring role on the hit series Grey’s Anatomy while also voicing the Silver Monkey on Beware the Batman.

He found more work on TV on The Legend of Korra, State of Affairs, The Shannara Chronicles, The Path, and NCIS: Los Angeles.

Remar also grabbed a little screen time on the Batman prequel series Gotham. There he plays Frank Gordon, Jim Gordon’s uncle. He has a place in the city’s Council of Owls.

Lately, James Remar can be seen in the series Animal Kingdom, City on a Hill, Magnum P.I. and as Peter Gambi on the CW’s superhero drama Black Lightning.

It’s been a long and productive career for James Remar even if he had a misstep along the way with Aliens.

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