He’s been a god (twice), he’s been a Klingon (twice), a Romulan, a werewolf, a vampire (twice), a supervillain. He’s played Hercules and against Hercules. He brought down the curtain on the X-Files and been beat up by everybody from the Terminator to Buffy to Knight Rider. He’s Brian Thompson and you know him, even if you think you don’t.
I think it’s safe to say that genre TV especially would be a different experience without Brian Thompson’s almost ubiquitous presence. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at a selection of his roles over the years. (And this is just a selection, by the way, not his entire body of work.)
That role lead to his casting as pretty much the same character in the pilot of the short-lived Street Hawk, a series about a guy in 2010 fighting crime with his jet bike. No, really.
From there, Thompson was cast in the equally short-lived but much more fun series ‘Otherworld’ as a kind of sci-fi military enforcer who menaced a family who ended up on a strange alternate Earth after taking a tour of the Great Pyramid and falling through a dimensional rift. No, really. Again. Look, it was the 80s. You’re going have to take my word for it. There were a lot of drugs floating around Hollywood.
After more guest villainy on shows like Knight Rider, Thompson landed the chief villain, Nicolas Remy, on a series called Werewolf. Which was about go-carts, magic and friendship. Nah, I’m just screwing with you this time. As the title suggests, it was about werewolves. Or one particular werewolf looking for the progenitor of his lycanthropic bloodline to kill him and free himself from the curse. As you do.
From there, Thompson had roles in Alien Nation the movie and in the TV series. Which starts a bit of a theme with him. Thompson seems to have a real talent for getting re-cast in different roles in the same series or franchise. Maybe it’s his deep voice or looming stage presence. Or maybe directors just dig his style. Whatever it is, it’s kept the man in work (and residuals, we’d imagine) for decades now.
Remember the bug-eating (and bug-filled pinata) Bozworth from Fright Night: Part 2? Yep, it was ‘that guy’ again. Probably most notable for one of the grossest death scenes in movie history. At least if you are like me and hate insects, though he was also one of the most physically intimidating ‘Renfield’ characters in movie history.
Our hero then moved to play a Klingon in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was the first of what would be a total of five different roles in the franchise. Five! He appeared in ST: TNG, Generations, DS:9 and Enterprise, in various roles. In aggregate, that’s probably more screen time than they gave Wil Wheaton!
Thompson also has the distinction of having both played Hercules, in the Jason and the Argonauts TV movie and then later being thwarted by Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules as the invading goth warlord named …er … Goth. Hey, don’t judge. It was a the bronze age. People ended up named after what they did a lot. You didn’t want to be the guy in charge of latrine maintenance though.
Brian’s next big role was as Brujah leader and general smooth dude Eddie Fiori in Kindred: the Embraced. The series was based on White Wolf’s Vampire: the Masquerade, but managed to have as little in common with it as humanly possible. The daywalking vampires, heavy political maneuvering and emphasis on sexy shenanigans had critics calling the the show a cross between Melrose Place and the Godfather. Alas, it was only to last a few episodes.
Next up, we have Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, where Thompson played the inexplicably anglo version of Shao Kahn, the immortal emperor of …um… Fightyspace. Or whatever the other world in Mortal Kombat was called. All you really need to know is that he was a well-costumed, super strong bad guy. A bit of a stretch at this point in his career, I’m sure.
Probably the role Brian Thompson is best known for was playing the Alien Bounty Hunter in the series X-files. His character was slowly revealed over the course of seven seasons, proving to be pivotal to the show’s mythology and back story. The sinister ‘Man in Black’ style cleaner would appear to cover up evidence and remove inconvenient witnesses and such at the behest of his crude oil based, brain-filling black sludge overlord, the collective intelligence called ‘Black Oil’. Okay, quit looking at me like that. It was a thing. Chris Carter was a fucking god back then. If you watched Lost, you can stop snickering now, Missy. Or Mister. Or whatever works.
We’re up to Buffy! Thompson actually had two early and awesome roles in Buffy: the Vampire Slayer. First as hench-vampire Luke, best remembered as the Master’s whipping boy and feeding proxy. He also played the very blue ‘Judge’ with a shocking vulnerability to rocket launchers, proving that ‘invulnerable’ is a sliding scale, rather than an absolute. Also, everything was cooler in the mall, back in the day.
As we moved into the 21st century, Thompson had roles on Crusade (the ill-fated spinoff of Babylon 5), Charmed (playing his second god) and (the once-again short-lived) Birds of Prey as a supervillain, many more movie roles (almost always as the bad guy) and most recently, an episode of Chuck.
So there we have it. Selected highlights from the genre career of ‘that guy’. The one who has been in everything and made everything better by being in it. We salute you, Brian Thompson, man of a thousand latex faces, and look forward to many more years of watching you menace the good guys!