We discuss the cult classic film The Warriors. I also did a sit-down interview with actor James Remar about his role as Ajax in the movie. Here is some of the interview for your eyeball pleasure and if you wanted to hear the whole thing (including more talk from James about The Warriors as well as some other projects he’s working on), click play below!
For more The Warriors insight, check out IAB’s analysis of it here.
Okay folks, hope you enjoy!
SUK: The Warriors was one of your first films. How did you end up getting involved with the film?
James Remar: Like any young actor, I auditioned for it. They auditioned every young actor my age in the city of New York. It was a massive cattle call and I got to be one of the lucky ones.
SUK: I know its been covered before, but for those that may not know, can you explain what you did during the audition to get noticed?
James Remar: The scene that I had to read was the park bench scene, where Ajax gets handcuffed to the park bench. Really, the only thing that I did that was outstanding was that I grabbed the corner of the conference table that Walter Hill, Frank Marshall, Lawrence Gordon and the casting director, Jeremy Ritzer, were seated at. It was a big, long table, about fourteen or fifteen feet long and six feet wide. And I started yelling and screaming the lines and with the energy and leverage, I lifted the corner of the table up. So I think Walter’s water fell over. He was pretty excited. “Oh, he lifted the fucking table up; we had to give him the part.” I guess that’s what set me aside and helped me stand out.
SUK: Did you do anything different to prepare for the part?
James Remar: Yeah, I was a very young actor. So when you say different… essentially, no. I didn’t do anything different. When you have a chance to do a part, you figure out as much as you can about it and try to model yourself after another human being. And lift a lot of weights.
SUK: This film has reached cult classic status. People still love this movie and talk about it. When you get approached do people bring it up to you?
James Remar: At conventions, sure. But it depends. For guys, there are a lot of Dexter fans now, some Warriors fans too. The ladies are more like Sex in the City fans. I do hear about it fairly frequently, but it is an old movie. At the conventions that I started doing fairly recently, there is a real affection for that movie. It’s managed to stay relevant to people’s minds. It’s still a pretty trippy movie. I think it’s because of the costumes and the lack of guns. There is only one gun in the whole thing.
SUK: Probably the most memorable line in the movie is “Warriors, come out an play” but you also have a one of the most memorable lines about shoving a baseball bat up someone’s ass to turn them into a popsicle. Was that completely scripted or did you add anything to that?
James Remar: No, that was entirely unscripted.
James Remar: We were filming in Riverside Park and the Baseball Furies are running around in these idiotic costumes on and Ajax being who Ajax is, I felt like I needed to comment on it somehow. And I talked about it a lot with Walter. I said, “This guy looks like a lollipop.” And Walter said, “Why don’t you say popsicle?” So it was a collaboration, where we just came up with it. Visually, it was very striking and it was very spontaneous. Walter and I collaborated 100% on that.
SUK: That’s awesome. You ended up working with Walter quite a few times.
James Remar: A total of four. I mean, he’s my favorite director. He’s the guy who put me on the map and he’s a tremendous human being. And really, one of the great filmmakers.
SUK: In the world of reboots and remakes, would you ever want to see The Warriors remade?
James Remar: I mean, I don’t mind. Sure, why not? But it’d be hard to do now because historically, the timing of The Warriors back then was such that it was just barely conceivable that there may be gangs where only one guy had a gun. This was about three or four years before the crack epidemic when everyone was carrying very, very dangerous assault weapons. It was the tail end of when New York gangs would fight with chains and knives and a gun here or there. But the idea of a gang not having a gun nowadays is absurd in this country. So it would be hard to pull it together.
SUK: Right, right.
James Remar: We did it without comment. We didn’t say that “This is the future” we didn’t name anything other than the locations, so you don’t really know what year it is. There is a lot of ambiguity in it, but it’s just believable enough so that it can be a timeless story. But with all of that said, if someone had a good enough imagination, and they don’t try to go too crazy with effects, they might be able to do it. But like I said, it’s a very visceral movie and its essentially just a bunch of guys running and trying to get home. There’s no room for major explosions and effects. I think it would be hard to do.
SUK: I think so too. I totally agree with you. I don’t think it can’t be done, but if they tried to do it today, they couldn’t capture the same aesthetic and the same feel of the movie. I think they would have to put in those explosions and gunfire.
James Remar: And that would ruin it. Because that’s not what the movie is. If they do that then it’s not The Warriors anymore. The appeal of The Warriors to young audiences is that it’s very visceral. It’s people on their feet, running and fighting with their fists. So it’s very emotionally satisfying and close-up. It’s not mowing fifty people down with a machine gun or blowing them all up; which oddly becomes unsatisfying. And not very dramatic.
James Remar: If they shut off all of the lights and they had people running, and just had all of these gangs; maybe they could pull it off. If they tried to make it into something that it isn’t. There are some classic remakes, that I won’t mention because it’s probably career suicide, that went so far off the original, that they just screwed it up.
SUK: I can think of a couple. In recent years that took some great classic movies from the 80s and changed them up to where they weren’t the same identity anymore. That would be my fear if they tried to remake The Warriors.
James Remar: It’s like when you do Hamlet, you don’t change the words. Some genius doesn’t come along and say, “I’m going to rewrite Shakespeare.” And it can be successful over and over and over again. So if someone came along and did a remake of The Warriors and was true to the film, and it was a new crop of young actors running, maybe tweak a costume here and there. But if it’s barebones and people running on the ground and punching each other with their fists and there is one person who is carrying a gun; I don’t see why not.