I know everyone is talking about the passing of Steve Jobs, and certainly without him I would probably never have been in a position to write these words to you… but someone else passed yesterday, as well.
Charles Napier was one of my favorite actors. I noticed decades ago that he was in a lot– a LOT– of movies and TV shows I adored, usually playing the villain, or at least some kind of a hardass. It took years for me to learn his name, but I always knew who he was.
I wasn’t alone. Everyone knew him, even if they only knew him as “oh, yeah, THAT guy.” But he also did a lot of voice-over work in comic-book adaptations and other stuff… usually playing military guys, or other folks who were in charge.
What qualifies him for mention here, apart from the various voice-over jobs he did, is the interesting little bit of trivia that in live-action roles, Napier fought the Hulk three times (well, sort of– he usually just got hurled into a pile of boxes or something) playing a different role each time… and in the last one he took on Thor too.
Here’s something a lot of people don’t know– in addition to playing villain roles on the old Hulk series, Napier also (along with Ted Cassidy) actually recorded Hulk growls for the show that they used to dub Lou Ferrigno. So on The Incredible Hulk you could say that Napier got to voice both the hero and the villain. That always tickled me.
And, of course, he was immortalized for Trekkies everywhere as Adam the space hippie.
Napier also was in “Little Green Men” for Deep Space Nine (playing a military guy, of course) but it’s Adam that everyone remembers. Some wonderful person cut together a bunch of clips from that episode here. Napier singing and playing his crazy space guitar in that was always good for a smile. “Gonna crack my knuckles and jump for joy, got a clean bill of health from Dr. McCoy!”
Whatever you think of that particular Star Trek episode– and it was admittedly awful– Napier is just fearless in it. It was kind of his signature– no matter how silly the thing was that he might be in, he got in there and sold it and made it work. A pro’s pro.
I always enjoyed seeing him pop up in something I was watching. He rarely got star billing, so it was usually unexpected; it was like having an old friend drop in and say hello. He’ll be missed.
Even by the zillions of people who only knew him as “that guy.”
Rest in peace, Mr. Napier.
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