12 April 1936, Mt. Union, Kentucky, USA
Sr. Charles Whitnel Napier
Lively character actor who usually plays bodybuilding military types and menacing bad guys. Charles Napier's roles have changed little since his debut in Russ Meyer's Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970). Napier went on appearing in other Meyer movies, including the homicidal Harry Sledge in Supervixens (1975) and also became a regular ...
Lively character actor who usually plays bodybuilding military types and menacing bad guys. Charles Napier's roles have changed little since his debut in Russ Meyer's Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970). Napier went on appearing in other Meyer movies, including the homicidal Harry Sledge in Supervixens (1975) and also became a regular playing smaller roles for Jonathan Demme. His granite-like jaw and wide, gate-like grin have contributed to his many memorable portrayals of tough guys, notably the scheming intelligence officer up against Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and the short-tempered front man of the Good Ole Boys in The Blues Brothers (1980), where he delivers the masterful 'corn on the cob' line.
[2009, on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)] I was associate producer on that. They brought me, Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer over to 20th ...
[2009, on Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)] I was associate producer on that. They brought me, Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer over to 20th Century-Fox because Darryl F. Zanuck saw this movie we were making, and they wanted a part of it. So we did the movie, they released it. It made lots of money, and it kind of went away for 15 years, 'cause the country club where the producers all went didn't want to be associated with an X-rated movie. Anyway, they finally re-released it again. It was a very successful hit. It was Russ' big time at a major studio. He was very pleased with it. Of course, it was my fun too until the day they walked in and took our names off the door and said "Get off the lot". Everything you did with Russ Meyer was a nightmare, everything was a total fucking catastrophe. It had to be done the Army way, it had to be done his way.
[2009, on how he met Russ Meyer] I was dating some stripper, and she told me about a movie this guy wanted her to make, and she was scared t...
[2009, on how he met Russ Meyer] I was dating some stripper, and she told me about a movie this guy wanted her to make, and she was scared to go in and talk to the guy. But I went along, and at that time, he was out in Santa Monica someplace, and I walked in, and he basically said, "What the hell are you doing here?" And I said, "Well, she doesn't feel comfortable around you". And he said, "Do you feel comfortable around me?" And I said, "About as far as I can fuckin' throw ya". And I wound up in a movie. He said, "Have you been in the military?" I go "Yeah", and he goes, "Okay, I want you to play this role". And that's how I got in the movie [Cherry, Harry & Raquel! (1970)] with him.
[2009, on his early adult life and his interesting entrance into films] I'd done a couple of low-low-low-low-budget Westerns that I've never...
[2009, on his early adult life and his interesting entrance into films] I'd done a couple of low-low-low-low-budget Westerns that I've never seen again and nobody else has, just to get started. Before that, I worked at the Shakespeare Festival in San Diego, if you can believe that. I did a season there, breaking in. But my life's goal was never to be an actor. It was to be a basketball coach. When I came back and went to college on the GI Bill, that fizzled out. I finally got one job, and then Vietnam came along and screwed that up, because the guy I replaced, I had to let him have his job back. So after that--we're going over a lot of ground here--I was married and had a young son, I went to Florida to teach art. I'm also a watercolor artist. And I couldn't hack that; I just basically quit. I started hanging out in different ports--Key West, Miami, New Orleans, wherever I could make a living off street playing, and I can sing a little bit. That's how I lived for three or four years. I got involved in a theater group in Clearwater, Florida, as a janitor, to live in the theater. And I thought, "Well shit, I can do this, if these guys can do this." And that's basically where I got started. And then I went with another guy to a thing called The Cross and Sword, which is an outdoor drama they have every year in Florida about the Spaniards and the Indians and all that. After I finished that, I had no job. I went to New York; nothing happened there except losing whatever else I had. I'd gone back to college for a summer session, and while I was there, we did "Othello". I played Iago; I managed to get through that without them booing me off the stage. I picked up the paper one day, and there was casting in San Diego. I made my way to California for the first time and auditioned, and I got in. We did three seasons of repertory there. After I moved to Hollywood, I started looking for jobs--parking cars, whatever I could do. It suddenly occurred to me that if I hung around bars where actors hung out, I might get a break. During those times before Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson hit it on Easy Rider (1969), I used to hang around them and Harry Dean Stanton. They're probably responsible for getting me an agent, just to get rid of me. Anyway, I got an agent, I got my first commercial. Then I met [Russ Meyer], and I went on and made Moonfire (1970) with Sonny Liston and Richard Egan, and then I started doing episodic television, and I had a pretty good career going. I quit that to become a writer for "Overdrive", which is a trucking magazine. I was the only writer for the magazine, because it had never had one. The editor had this idea to do this film about trucking, and I was sort of the epitome of a truck driver, so he put me and Sonny Liston in the movie with an older actor named Richard Egan. We finally finished it off, and I got a dream idea, I said, "Mike [director Michael Parkhurst], I want to go out and do stories on trucks." He said, "Well, nobody's ever done that before." I said, "Just give me a cameraman, call General Motors, call anybody, they'll give you a car to do that." And that's what I did for two years. In the meantime, I stopped to do Supervixens (1975), the only movie I did for almost two years. The market for those movies was normally just smuthouses in New York and San Francisco. And all of the sudden, United picked up "Cherry, Harry & Raquel", and there I am all over the screen in 2,000 theaters. That created a little space. Anyway, the Teamster, the writing deal--Hunter S. Thompson and I were buddies, we did a lot wild of shit, a lot of stories together. We got busted up really bad during a Teamsters truck strike. So now I'm 40 years old and I'm back living on the streets of Hollywood in a parking lot under Russ Meyer, who owned the parking lot. And I said, "It's over, man. I have no agent, I have no phone, I have no address, I have no nothing." I had a little unemployment to go. And one day some guy came down the street with a megaphone asking my name, and I'm sitting there with the rest of the winos. I go, "Yeah, what's up, that's me." I hadn't had a haircut in two months, or a shave, or whatever. He says, "They want to see you at Universal." I go, "What for?" He goes, "You'll find out when you get there, you want to go or not?" I go, "I'm assuming if I don't go, your ass is gonna be in a lot of trouble, is that correct?" He goes, "That's correct." And we go straight to the lot in the back of the limo, straight to the office of Alfred Hitchcock. They said, "Don't say a damn word to him, don't even look at him. He's gonna be 10 feet away, and he's gonna spin around a chair in a dramatic way. He's gonna say 'Go away,' or he's gonna say 'Sign him.'" So Hitchcock is looking at the guy standing beside him, and he says "Tell him to turn around." So I turned around, and Hitchcock said, "Sign him." And that was the end of it. I worked from then on, because I worked for Alfred Hitchcock. He owned a big percentage of Universal. So now I don't have to beg for shows, they're ordering me to do shows--Starsky and Hutch (1975), The Rockford Files (1974), all those shows. They put me in a series called Black Sheep Squadron [Baa Baa Black Sheep (1976)], they put me in a series called The Oregon Trail (1976). And now from nonexistence, I've been working ever since. Then I met Jonathan Demme somehow, who had seen me in an X-rated movie when he was in the army. And he eventually found me, and [John Landis] found me out of the Russ Meyer movies. All this came out of Russ Meyer, quite frankly.
[2009, on One-Eyed Monster (2008)) If I may be so bold to say, the hardest role I ever did-have you seen "One-Eyed Monster"? There's a scene...
[2009, on One-Eyed Monster (2008)) If I may be so bold to say, the hardest role I ever did-have you seen "One-Eyed Monster"? There's a scene where I come in there, and I got to thinking about this. It's a strange movie, but it'll do well if it gets the right release. And they told me that Showtime may have just picked it up. I've got to come in and tell a bunch of kids that a dick is on the loose, and it's Ron Jeremy's dick, and it's nine and a half inches long, and it's a killer dick. Now I've got to do the whole fuckin' speech and make that believable, that is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And I think I did it. I'm playing an old mountain man that's lived up there for a long time, and this thing has followed me all the way from Vietnam. This is a crazy, wacky story. The young couple up there wants to make a porno movie; of course, they never get started, because the dick attacks us. Eventually, you'll see it, it kills me in a horrendous fight in the kitchen. It's just that kind of a movie. It's the hardest thing I ever tried to pull off. I went to them and I said, "Look, I gotta change some of these words around. Do you realize I'm gonna get laughed off the screen if I screw up one second? One second, it's gonna drop the whole thing." And they go "Well, you know, we wrote that." I said, "I don't care what you wrote. I don't want to be an asshole about it, but this is my ass on the line, man. If you even allow me to drop one hint that it's a joke, I'm dead. The whole movie's dead." I gotta be deadpan, I gotta be right on, and I gotta talk about this thing which murdered my men, damn near killed me, and it's real, and it's following us, and it's going to get all of us if it doesn't get me first. That's basically the story. There's no porno in it as far as I know. Veronica Hart and Jeremy are in it; they were just playing parts, though. So that's what it is, it's something totally different. I said, "My God, if I can pull this off." Let's see, movies are so hard to sell--I've got seven different films right now sitting on somebody's shelves. They can't even release them, because there's too many movies out there.
[2009, on The Blues Brothers (1980)] That's several months of my life I don't remember. Hanging out with Belushi [John Belushi, he was a pal...
[2009, on The Blues Brothers (1980)] That's several months of my life I don't remember. Hanging out with Belushi [John Belushi, he was a pal, he and I were buddies. We just got away with absolute murder on that, and they blamed it all on the actors. Actually, it was all on the singers. Singers don't show up every day at 8:00 in the morning. Ray Charles doesn't show up, James Brown didn't show up when he was supposed to. So we sit there all day waiting for Aretha Franklin to fly in. So it went way, way over budget, but it made them a fortune, of course, so they loved us after that. Belushi was a great friend. Anything you wanted to try, he would do that. ['John Landis (I)'] let me have a lot of freedom. John was good to me, and he was a good director. He's been having a hard time getting work, so I hear.
[2009, on The Cable Guy (1996)] Jim Carrey was interesting to work with. Ben Stiller. I didn't have that much to do in "Cable Guy". That's a...
[2009, on The Cable Guy (1996)] Jim Carrey was interesting to work with. Ben Stiller. I didn't have that much to do in "Cable Guy". That's an interesting movie. Stiller is really a brilliant, brilliant actor. That guy really scares the shit out of you when he wants to get serious. He was kind of shy around me. He wasn't like you'd think Jim Carrey would be, jumping around and acting crazy. I used to bullshit him a lot. We accidentally busted Matthew Broderick's nose on the desk, because I went to arrest him, and he didn't turn his head sideways, and I smashed his head on the table. Of course, Carrey loved that. Matthew didn't feel too good about it. Nothing was ever said about it.
 I've done a lot of interesting things, from horses to motorcycles to--not too many airplanes. A lot of action. I've had a lot of fun....
 I've done a lot of interesting things, from horses to motorcycles to--not too many airplanes. A lot of action. I've had a lot of fun. I've had more fun than any human being should be allowed to have, in the movies I've done for the last 40 years. Life has allowed me to go out and just play. Play like you did when you were a kid, you know, "You be the good guy today, and I'll be the bad guy." That's a simplistic way of looking at it, but that's how I see it. When I'm riding in a first-class seat to some fantastic island to film something that someone else is paying for, I figure I'm ahead of the game. Not a bad life. I'm not saying it's been an easy life. I haven't won any awards. Waiting for that's like leaving the porch light on for [Jimmy Hoffa], but I've made a living at it. I've done my share. I draw my pension. I don't think I've ever turned down but one or two roles, because I was always scared I'd never work again.
 Anyone can be a director now, as you well know. There's no union, basically, per se anymore. They say it is, but these kids are going...
 Anyone can be a director now, as you well know. There's no union, basically, per se anymore. They say it is, but these kids are going out and making . . . I just did a western for some guy's grandson up in Oregon, who is a timber baron, and he put up 200 grand for it. I did a film in Miami for a car dealer who wanted his daughter to be on-screen. And they never go anywhere. They just lay around on shelves. Somebody ought to wise up and figure out how to sell those movies at WalMart, you know? But people have that kind of money, or they used to. It's tough times now for all of us. Everybody's scared to death. Nobody knows what's going to happen now. I get along day by day, and that's about the way it goes, and I always look forward to tomorrow. I'm as excited about doing the next one as I am the first one, and the energy is still there. Of course, my memory's not as good as it used to be, so what the hell. Marlon Brando never learned a line in his life, so I don't feel too bad, you know.
[2009, on Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)] It all started from years ago, when I did a starring role with [Sylvester Stallone]. He was the...
[2009, on Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)] It all started from years ago, when I did a starring role with [Sylvester Stallone]. He was the only actor that ever said, "If I ever make it, man, I'll help you". And he did. And Lee Marvin was a pal of mine, and when that role came up, Lee was supposed to do it, but he was in Australia. He said, "You can have it, tell them to pay me off". And that's how I got that role. So they sent me down to Acapulco a month early to gain 20 pounds, because they didn't want me to have a gut or anything. It was beautiful, we were on the beach every day for three months. We were on a helicopter every morning to fly off to a jungle, and we'd come back every night, and there were thousands of women waiting to meet these famous actors. So it was great fun. I've made 30 films out of the country that nobody will ever see, with Menahem Golan, and I can't even remember the names of 'em. I made them in the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Bulgaria, Russia, Panama, you name it.
 I always felt I played myself or some kind of version of myself. If you think about it, old actors probably don't even have a self.
 I always felt I played myself or some kind of version of myself. If you think about it, old actors probably don't even have a self.
Charles Napier's FILMOGRAPHY
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Charles Napier'S roles
Judge Abraham Betts