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Brion James Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (5) | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 20 February 1945Redlands, California, USA
Date of Death 7 August 1999Malibu, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameBrion Howard James
Height 6' 3" (1.91 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Brion James was born February 20, 1945, in Redlands, California, to Ida Mae (Buckelew) and Jimmy James. The family soon moved to Beaumont, California (between Los Angeles and Palm Springs), where his parents built and operated a movie theater, where stars such as Gene Autry would occasionally stop by. After graduating from Beaumont High School in 1962, Brion attended San Diego State University, majoring in theater arts. Upon graduation he moved to New York to study acting while working a variety of jobs to support himself in the early years. He also did a stint in the National Guard. He and fellow actor Tim Thomerson served in the army together and later made several films together. A veteran of over 100 television and 120+ movie roles, James is best remembered for roles such as the replicant Leon in Blade Runner (1982), Gen. Munro in The Fifth Element (1997), Big Teddy in Cabin Boy (1994), Max Jenke in The Horror Show (1989) (his personal favorite) as well as countless other parts in films like Southern Comfort (1981), The Player (1992), Tango & Cash (1989), 48 Hrs. (1982), Another 48 Hrs. (1990), Enemy Mine (1985) and Silverado (1985). Brion is survived by two brothers, Craig James of Scottsdale, Arizona, Chester James of Beaumont, California and their families.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Cindy Owens <spambrando@yahoo.com>

Spouse (1)

Maxine James (? - 1996) (divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

Played secondary characters, often villians and heavies, with a menacing streak.
Tall frame

Trivia (5)

Vietnam buddy with actor Tim Thomerson.
Acted in four films for director Albert Pyun.
Acted in five films for director Walter Hill.
He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.
Good friends with co-star Rutger Hauer. They made four movies together prior to James' death.

Personal Quotes (6)

[in August 1999, when asked to what he attributes his success] Hard work. You gotta study, man. It's like any profession. I did eight years in theater. I studied two years in school in New York with Stella Adler, the best teacher in the world. I studied under Nina Foch, I did theater, I learned my craft. You got to learn how to build a character, there's a way to do it. Everything I ever did was different. I did 125 films, and over 100 television shows, and you've never seen the same character twice. I think now, in my 50s, with [Robert Duvall], [Albert Finney] and [Gene Hackman], those guys are getting up there in their 60s, it's my time. And I'm making sure that I push myself into their slot. So, my best work's coming.
[about Red Heat (1988)] I told Walter Hill, "I'll do a walk-on for you, or a starring role, I don't care". He made me a film actor. He said, "Fine, now you're a film actor" in Southern Comfort (1981), and it was one of the best roles I ever had. I told Walter, "I'll do anything you want, just tell me". In "Red Heat" I had one good scene. I played this guy like a white Negro, "Snitch". So I processed the hair, wore those shoes, I made him like a real street guy. Walter Hill, he loves it.
[on what he remembers about making Crime Wave (1985)] Three months in Detroit, which was where we were. Murder City. I was really sick, I was doing a lot of drugs, but I told Sam Raimi, "Put me on, but don't say cut, let me go". He did and I went and basically I had the show. At that point, which came after Blade Runner (1982), they put me on a blacklist, because I wouldn't be in the union, and when I came up for that, they said, "You can't do the movie". They said, "We've got to have Brion James". They said, "No, he's not working for us." Finally they said, "Look, he's the only guy we want". They said, "Fine, you can have him, but we're not paying our part". So they paid their part, I worked like ten weeks for $2500. You know they say don't make waves, so I learned my lesson.
[on his part in Another 48 Hrs. (1990) being heavily cut down] Total Recall (1990) came out a week before "Another 48 Hrs" that summer, it made 25 million. The studio panicked. My stuff was in there until one week before the film opened. They cut 25 minutes out of that movie, a week before it opened. It went from around 140 to down to around 95 minutes. They said cut all the behavior, action, comedy, done. I lost every major scene I had. That's the last time I ever cared about a movie because I went to the press screening and it was like getting kicked in the stomach, seeing what's not there. I'm the third lead and I looked like a dress extra. All the stuff that they had in the set-up, stuff in the trailer, all those scenes were gone.
My dad built a movie theater in Beaumont, California, and by the time I was two years old I was at the movies every night. I lived in books and movies. That's where I wanted to be, in that fantasy world. I started acting in school at a very early age, putting on talent shows, acting in high school plays, that kind of thing. I guess some people are just destined to do this.
[about Southern Comfort (1981)] It was the hardest movie I ever made as far as being physical. It was cold and freezing in that swamp. [Keith Carradine] and the other ones, they wore wet suits under the clothes, I never wore one. I was miserable, but it worked for the movie. I played a local Cajun trapper. It's the only accent I ever had to learn. I'm a parrot. I can pick up an accent and just do it. That one I had to study, and a real Cajun taught me how to do it. So, I did this Cajun patois, bastardized French. It was very different, it was like a southern black French.

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