Podcast: Play in new window | Download
James Harper is the voice of the villainous Emperor Arcturus Mengsk in the smash-hit video game from Blizzard Entertainment, “StarCraft”. He originated the role in the first game nearly 15 years ago (1997), reprised it in the expansion set, “StarCraft: Brood War”, and in 2010 returned for the long-awaited and anticipated, “StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty”. He has made several personal appearances over the past 2 years at various gaming conventions.
He is a multi-award-winning actor and voice artist, with an eclectic background that ranges from touring the Mid-West as a carnival barker with Carroll’s Greater Shows and Wm. D. Stanley Shows (at age 15 & 16) to a command performance for the Princesses Margaret of Great Britain and Elizabeth of the former Yugoslavia at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival; and he has amassed an extensive body of credits in all mediums since making his professional stage debut at the age of twenty-three performing ‘Kent’ opposite James Earl Jones’ “King Lear” at the NY Shakespeare Festival’s Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. He is a native Californian – born in the Los Angeles area – and spent his formative years in the farmlands and rural communities of South Dakota and California’s San Joaquin Valley, prior to his family relocating in Northern California’s Marin County in the early 1960’s, where he was touched by the theatre ‘bug’ while attending San Rafael High School.
TRAINING – Following a stint in the U. S. Army during the Vietnam era he spent 3 years immersed in theatre study and performance at the College of Marin. Sixteen productions at C.O.M. included seven by Shakespeare and the world premieres of Joel Schwartz’s “A Psalm For Two Davids” and Philip Bosakowski’s “Bierce Takes on the Railroad”, in which he created the role of ‘Hartford T. Kent’ opposite Kurtwood Smith (“That 70’s Show”, “Robocop”) and fellow student, Robin Williams.
Then, in 1972, Mr. Harper was invited by the legendary John Houseman to attend the Advanced Actor Training Program at New York’s prestigious Juilliard School, where he studied with Gerald Freedman, Michael Kahn, Elizabeth Smith, Hovey Burgess, Robert Neff Williams, B. H. Barry, and the celebrated Edith Skinner, among others, and performed the role of ‘Falstaff’ in the first staging of Dakin Matthews’ adaptation of “Henry IV, Pts. I & II”. Among his schoolmates at Juilliard were Christine Baranski, the late Christopher Reeve, Casey Biggs, and William Hurt, among others.
Upon graduating from Juilliard, he accepted Mr. Houseman’s offer to join his then-fledgling The Acting Company, subsequently spending four seasons, 600 performances and 50,000 miles touring the United States while working with some of the theatre world’s greatest talents: actors Patti LuPone, Franny Conroy, Kevin Kline, and J. T. Walsh, directors Ellis Rabb, Jack O’Brien and Gerald Gutierrez, and designers Ming Cho Lee, John Lee Beatty, Santo Loquasto, Jane Greenwood, Ray Diffen, and Barbara Matera, among many others. His Acting Company credits include such diverse roles as ‘Kilroy’ in Tennessee Williams’ “Camino Real”, ‘Holofernes’ in “Loves’ Labors Lost”, and ‘Blick’ in “The Time of Your Life”.
Mr. Harper’s BROADWAY credits include ‘Lt. Schrank’ in the first major revival of “West Side Story”, where he worked with Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and creating the role of ‘Little Harp’ opposite Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone in the original Tony-nominated production of “The Robber Bridegroom”. His work OFF & OFF-OFF BROADWAY includes ‘Johnny’ opposite Kathy Bates (and later Debra Jo Rupp and Caroline Aaron) in “Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune”, ‘Reverend Salvation’ & ‘Professor Trixie’ in a major revival of “The Cradle Will Rock” directed by John Houseman, creating the roles of ‘Vern’ opposite Patricia Heaton in Quincy Long’s “The Johnstown Vindicator” and ‘Frehlich’ in David Suesdorff’s “The Cruelties of Mrs. Schnayd”, ‘Colm’ in Gardner McKay’s “Sea Marks”, and ‘The Baboon’ in Brecht’s “Jungle of Cities” at Brooklyn Academy of Music Theatre Company, among others.
Mr. Harper’s extensive credits with many of this country’s leading REGIONAL theatres include creating the role of ‘Cawhill’ opposite Annette O’Toole in the world premiere of Larry Ketron’s “Sun Bearing Down” (San Diego’s Old Globe), ‘Hornbeck’ opposite E. G. Marshall and Robert Vaughan in “Inherit The Wind” (Paper Mill Playhouse), ‘Ligniere’ in “Cyrano de Bergerac” opposite Anthony Zerbe (Long Wharf), ‘Ed’ in “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” (Guthrie), Dan White’s defense attorney, ‘Doug Schmidt’, in Emily Mann’s “Execution of Justice” (Berkeley Rep), ‘Oates’ opposite Brian Murray in “Terra Nova” (Baltimore’s Centre Stage), ‘Oronte’ in the Boston premiere of Richard Wilbur’s translation of Moliere’s “The Misanthrope” (Huntington), “The Tempest” and “Julius Caesar” (American Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, CT), ‘Jimmy’ in “A History of the American Film” and ‘Taylor’ in “K 2” (Pittsburgh Public, Best Actor Award for ‘Jimmy’), ‘Roma’ in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (Houston’s Alley Theatre), ‘Colin’ in “Ashes” (PAF Playhouse), ‘Jerry’ in “Betrayal” (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park), ‘Salieri’ in “Amadeus” (Virginia Stage Company), creating the role of ‘Victor Frankenstein’ in the world premiere of “Frankenstein” (St. Louis’ Loretto-Hilton Theatre, now known as St. Louis Rep), working with the old-time string band, The Red Clay Ramblers, and creating a singing Mark Twain in the world premiere of “Life on the Mississippi” (Playmakers Rep), Mark Taper Forum, South Coast Rep, ‘Falstaff’ in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (Houston Shakespeare Festival), “Cyrano de Bergerac” & “Macbeth” (title roles), and playing famed mountaineer/theologian/philosopher Willi Unsoeld in “WILLI – An Evening of Wilderness & Spirit” (1-man show, Arizona Theatre Company).
His LOS ANGELES area stage credits include his award-winning performance as ‘FDR’ in the West Coast Premiere of Bernard Weinraub’s “The Accomplices” (Fountain Theatre), ‘Robert’ in David Auburn’s “Proof” (La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts), the world premiere of Neil Simon’s “Rose and Walsh” (Geffen Playhouse); ‘Menelaus’ (Drama-Logue Award) in Michael Arabian’s production of “The Trojan Women” with Mariette Hartley, staged outdoors at Gilligan’s Island Lagoon on the back-lot of CBS/Radford Studios; the U.S. premiere of David Grieg’s “The Architect” (title role) and the West Coast premiere of David Lindsay-Abaire’s “A Devil Inside” (at Ojai Playwrights Conference & later at the Whitefire Theatre); ‘Garfinkle’ in “Other People’s Money” (Westwood Playhouse), ‘Bobby Gould’ in David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow” (Odyssey Theatre), and Doris Baizley’s “Glass Mountain” (Ojai Playwrights Conference/Simon Levy, Director).
Mr. Harper was a founding member of LA’s Interact Theatre Company, where he helped develop their original operating structure, served 5 years on their Board of Directors, acted as sole production photographer for their first 8 years, produced and/or co-produced 14 projects, and appeared in numerous productions, including “Counsellor-At-Law” (LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award, Ensemble Performance) and as ‘Pischik’ in their critically acclaimed world premiere translation of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”. Mr. Harper’s producing credits include the critically acclaimed and long-running productions of “A Little Night Music” (Ovation Nomination, Best Musical – Intimate Theatre) and “Death of a Salesman” (Ovation Nomination, Best Production – Intimate Theatre; VTL ADA Best Production Award).
He has made over 200 Guest Star and recurring appearances on TELEVISION including prime-time episodics (“Judging Amy”, “NYPD Blue”, “Star Trek – Deep Space 9”, “Chicago Hope”, “Quantum Leap”, “LA Law”, “Life Goes On”, “Sisters”, “Deadly Games”, “Matlock”, “Dallas”, “Paradise”, etc., etc.), pilots (“The Burning Zone”), MOW’s (portraying Arkansas Governor Orvil Faubus in Disney’s “The Earnest Green Story”), and sit-coms (“Frasier”, “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose”), as well as numerous NY & LA “soaps” (‘Jim Watson’ on “One Life To Live”, 5 years; the ‘hanging judge’ Francis Fallon on “The Young & The Restless”, 2 years; and ‘Mark Cody’ on “The Guiding Light”). He recently appeared in the recurring guest star role of the villainous attorney, ‘Jordan Lovell’, on the ABC/SOAP Channel prime time dramatic series, “GH: Night Shift.”
Mr. Harper has appeared in 20 + FILMS including “Blaze” (opposite Paul Newman), Michael Mann’s “The Insider” (opposite Russell Crowe & Diane Venora), “Armageddon” (opposite Bruce Willis), “Switch” (opposite Ellen Barkin), “Down Periscope” (opposite Rip Torn & Bruce Dern), “Widow’s Kiss” (opposite Beverly D’Angelo & Dennis Haysbert), “Witch Hunt” (opposite Dennis Hopper and Clifton Collins, Jr.), “Love Field” (opposite Michele Pfeiffer), Michael Apted’s “First Born”, Ulie Edel’s “Last Exit To Brooklyn” (opposite Stephen Lang), and the black & white SciFi thriller “To Walk a City’s Street”. He also has numerous commercials, voiceovers, and video games (“StarCraft”, “Diablo 2”, others) on his list of credits.
He currently co-stars opposite his real-life significant other, Marilyn McIntyre, in the bittersweet, sci-fi comedy short, “Into The Unknown”, a favorite of the 2009/10 short films festivals (Palm Springs Shorts Fest., LA Shorts Fest., others). In the spring of 2011 “Into the Unknown” will be touring the United States as part of the arts exhibit, “America: Now and Here.” (http://AmericaNowAndHere.org/)
Mr. Harper is a private acting coach and has taught various master classes at numerous universities throughout the U. S. including USC, UCLA, U. of North Carolina, Arizona State and many others.