Hard-working character actor James Remar has been mainly typecast as a psychopathic killer in a wide variety of thrillers, both blockbusters and low-budget straight-to-video. A native of Boston, he studied acting at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse and made his Broadway debut with Bent, opposite Richard Gere. His first major film role was gangster Ajax in Walter Hill's 1979 action drama The Warriors. The film gained a minor cult following and seemed to cement Remar's reputation as a bad guy. He would continue to work with director Hill for Windwalker (1980), 48 Hrs. (1982), and Wild Bill (1995).
During the '80s, he played psycho gangster Dutch Schultz in Francis Ford Coppola's The Cotton Club, a maniac killer in Rent-a-Cop, and a Neanderthal in The Clan of the Cave Bear. He got a little break in 1989 as the cop Gentry in Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy. During the '90s, he made a deal with the devil in Tales From the Darkside: The Movie and appeared in many movies that ended up on TV or home video. He had played so many villains that he was able to spoof himself as Max Shady in the comedic thriller parody Fatal Instinct. A few gentle comedy dramas followed with Penny Marshall's Renaissance Man and Herbert Ross' Boys on the Side.