Not for $50 million and a room full of Les Pauls could I tell you how it came to me, but yesterday I found myself thinking about Brion James.

The veteran character actor was ninety-eight shades of awesome. During the 80s, he seemed to be in every other film, always playing a deliciously rough-edged thug or unrefined clod, epitomized in his role as the boorish Detective Kehoe in 48 Hrs. With his sunken eyes, hound dog cheeks and a hanging lower lip, he forged an enduring career with one of the least-attractive faces in Hollywood. Barking in a hoarse drawl with an unremarkable build, he was everything the leading men were not; yet there he was, going toe-to-toe with all of them.