James is a rugged, intense character player with leading man good looks. Having first gained recognition in 1979 as Ajax, in his second film, The Warriors (1979). That same year he garnered acclaim on Broadway with Richard Gere in the concentration camp drama "Bent".
In a career spanning nearly four decades, James has run the gamut of roles and solid career choices. Ranging from the psychopaths, Dutch Schultz in 'Francis Copollas The Cotton Club (1984) and 'Albert Ganz' in Walter Hill's 48 Hrs. (1982) to Samantha's lover, the billionaire playboy, Richard Wright, in the HBO series Sex and the City (1998)." James has also garnered roles which highlight a more vulnerable side, such as his guitarist who gets a break in the Oscar-winning short, Session Man (1991) or his artist who falls in love with a gargoyle come to life in the best segment of the horror anthology, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990) and as Mary Louise Parker's lover in Boys on the Side.
More recently James starred along side Michael C. Hall in the hit Showtime series Dexter (2006) where he played Dexter's wise, compassionate, adoptive father, Harry Morgan. Grey's Anatomy fans have recently enjoyed seeing James as Karev's long-lost Dad. While remaining active with top feature films James enjoys the distinction of being the only actor to die twice, as two different characters in Quentin Tarintino's smash hit Django Unchained.
James won the 8th annual SAG award as a member of the Outstanding Comedy Ensemble for his work in Sex and the City. As a member of the ensemble cast of Dexter, James has been nominated for the SAG award and the Emmy. In recognition for his work in Sci-Fi Fantasy and Horror James was honored with the Saturn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.