William James Remar (born December 31, 1953), known professionally as James Remar, is an American actor and voice actor who was originally cast as Corporal Hicks in the 1986 film Aliens. He was eventually replaced by Michael Biehn. Other notable films Remar has appeared in include 48 Hrs. (1982), Judge Dredd (1995), X-Men: First Class (2011) and Django Unchained (2012).



James Remar was cast as Corporal Hicks in Aliens. Alien series producer Walter Hill, who had previously directed Remar in The Warriors, The Long Riders and 48 Hrs., likely helped Remar obtain the audition for Aliens.[1]

Al Matthews (Sergeant Apone) was asked by director James Cameron to train the Marine actors. The main thing Matthews had to teach them was to never point a weapon at somebody and to never walk around with their finger on the trigger; although the weapons used blanks, they could still do damage. At the time of Aliens' filming, Frank Oz was filming Little Shop Of Horrors on an adjacent stage, and, according to Matthews, Remar "blew a hole in Frank's set! With a shotgun!" Matthews then said to Remar, "Where the fuck did you get live ammo?"[2]

A compilation of images showing Remar as Hicks.[3]

Although not much is known about Remar's role as Hicks, as no direct footage of him in the role has ever been released, he at least filmed the shot where the Marines enter the Alien Hive and several still pictures[1] and a costume continuity Polaroid were taken of him.[4] It is unlikely any footage of Remar and Sigourney Weaver (Ripley) was filmed, as the scenes of the Marines in the Hive were done at beginning of Aliens' production; during this time, Weaver was finishing Half Moon Street.[1]

Firing and recasting

After a couple of weeks of working on Aliens, Remar was caught in the possession of illegal drugs[5] and was subsequently fired. Michael Biehn, who had previously worked with Cameron on The Terminator, playing Kyle Reese, was brought in to replace Remar.[1] According to Cynthia Dale Scott (Corporal Dietrich) at the 2011 convention Alien Encounters, the crew would not discuss Remar's departure with the others.[6]

"No one would talk about it, nobody told us, it just went away, and we showed up for the day and we looked at the call sheet and we're reading and we're going, 'Michael Biehn? Who's Michael Biehn?' and they said 'He's Hicks.' and we're all looking at each- I could- I could swear that James was Hicks, you- nobody ever said a word to us, it's just like 'We're reshooting a few scenes, this is Hicks.' and it- you know. It was supposed to be a big secret and nobody ever told us anything"
―Cynthia Dale Scott at the 2011 convention Alien Encounters[6]

With Biehn's arrival, Cameron and Biehn allegedly reworked the character of Hicks slightly, as Biehn was worried he may be compared to his previous role as Reese.[1] Despite the recasting, the footage of Remar entering the Hive with the other Marines is included in the final film; having already filmed a complex effects shot with him, the production were unable to re-film with Biehn in the role, and instead used editing to cut away once Remar turned his head.[1]


The cast and crew have remained "tight-lipped" about Remar's involvement and departure. The issue isn't given much weight or coverage, if any, in the Superior Firepower making-of documentary on the Alien Quadrilogy and Alien Anthology sets, and it is not discussed in interviews. The matter, if referred to, is usually brushed off as "creative differences", which makes the secrecy around Remar's involvement seem strange.[1]

The truth is, the silence of the cast and crew owes more to respect for Remar's privacy than for any unwillingness or inability to recall the events that led to him being replaced by Michael Biehn. Remar commented to Starlog magazine in March 1986, "[Aliens] was a four month commitment in a foreign country, which I was willing to make. Unfortunately, urgent matters at home required that I return to the States and attend to them. They got someone else, and I came home and took care of the problems, and moved on to Band of the Hand."[1]

It wasn't until recently, when Remar himself commented more explicitly on the issue, that the reason for his firing became clear: "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."[1] In an interview featured in episode 128 of the podcast SiDEBAR, Remar said of his Aliens experience, "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."[5]

Remar also lost his credibility with Walter Hill. "Getting fired from Aliens alienated me from [Walter Hill] for twelve years," Remar explained, "he didn't hire me again for twelve years. And I know why – because I made him look bad. Y'know, it was fucked up."[1]


Year Title Notes
1978 On the Yard
1979 The Warriors With Sonny Landham
Blond Poison
1980 Cruising
The Long Riders With William H. Burton, Jr.
Windwalker With Henry Kingi
1982 Partners With John Hurt
48 Hrs. With Sonny Landham
1984 The Cotton Club With William H. Burton, Jr. and Laurence Fishburne
1986 The Clan of the Cave Bear
Band of the Hand With Laurence Fishburne
Quiet Cool
1987 Rent-a-Cop
1989 Drugstore Cowboy
The Dream Team
Silence Like Glass
1990 Tales from the Darkside: The Movie
Fatal Charm
1991 White Fang
Wedlock With Danny Trejo
1992 The Tigress
1993 Fatal Instinct
1994 Confessions of a Hitman
Renaissance Man
Miracle on 34th Street
1995 Across the Moon
Boys on the Side
Wild Bill With John Hurt and Michael Papajohn
Judge Dredd Uncredited; with Ewen Bremner, Nick Gillard and Mark Anthony Newman
Exquisite Tenderness With Charles Dance
1996 The Phantom With William H. Burton, Jr.
One Good Turn
The Quest With Jean-Claude Van Damme
Robo Warriors
1997 Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
1998 Psycho
1999 Born Bad
Rites of Passage
2000 Blowback
What Lies Beneath
Hellraiser: Inferno
Double Frame
2001 Dying on the Edge
2003 Down with the Joneses
Fear X
2 Fast 2 Furious
Betrayal With Adam Baldwin
2004 The Girl Next Door
Blade: Trinity With Brian Steele and Françoise Yip
2007 Ratatouille With Ian Holm
2008 Pineapple Express
2009 2B
The Unborn With Idris Elba
Endless Bummer
2010 Gun With Danny Trejo
2011 The FP
X-Men: First Class With Michael Fassbender, Corey Johnson and Shane Steyn
Transformers: Dark of the Moon With Peter Cullen, Henry Kingi, David St. James and Eddie Yansick
All Superheroes Must Die
Arena With Derek Mears
Transformers: The Ride – 3D With Peter Cullen
2012 Django Unchained With Walton Goggins
2013 National Lampoon Presents: Surf Party
2014 Persecuted
Lap Dance
2015 The Wrong Side of Right
2016 USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage


  • Despite the firing of Remar, the actor remained professional and cordial throughout the years, recently saying, "I loved Avatar. The funny thing about Avatar is you have to have $200 million dollars worth of effects for people to sit in their seats and watch a very, very simple, cowboys and Indians love story. It's a very simple script, y'know, but it had integrity."[1]
  • On-set footage of Remar playing Hicks was due to be included in the Alien Anthology Blu-ray set. However, it was removed before release at the request of Lightstorm Entertainment (James Cameron's production company).[7]


See Also

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