U Won’t Believe What REAL LIFE Job “Big Red” Had Before He Was An Actor

Posted On : November 5, 2015

big-red-5-heartbeats“Big Red” a.k.a. Hawthorne James played one of the most memorable characters ever! As a matter of fact, it’s hard to look at his photo without saying this: “My office hours are from 9 to 5.” Anyone who’s seen the movie, Five Heartbeats, knows exactly what we’re talking about. Anyways, James actually is totally different from his crooked low down character, “Big Red.” He had a prior career that most people probably would have never guessed he would have…

big red3Hawthorne James was a PROFESSOR at Illinois State University! Can you imagine “Big Red” walking into your classroom and telling you to open up your textbooks to chapter 24? He’s a very intelligent man, but it would be hard for the brotha to shake that villain look in a classroom setting.

Hawthorne graduated from Notre Dame University and has a masters degree from the University of Michigan. He also studied at London Shakesphere Academy. He taught at Illinois State University for two years, prior to going to L.A. to pursue acting professionally. He is also a producer, director, and writer. In a recent Youtube interview, Hawthorne stated,

“I knew I didn’t wanna teach. That was way too political for me in the theater department.”

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He also said that although he’s been performing on stage since he was five, it wasn’t until high school that he really caught the acting bug. He says that he toured with his high school for a “Hamlet” play and once he saw what it was like outside of living in his hometown- the south side of Chicago- he was ready to spread his wings with acting. Here’s what else he said in that interview about how he realized he wanted to be a full time actor:

“It opened my eyes because you know I’m a kid from the south side of Chicago, so I very rarely got to see White people. When we went on tour we stayed at White people’s houses and you know, being a kid, you’re thinking white beans and cornbread is normal. Maaan, I got to them folks’ houses- they were eating steaks and chicken and (laughs) it just totally opened my eyes and I was like ‘Well wait a minute! Woah! People live like this?!!”

Robert Townsend

“Then the straw that really broke the camel’s back…was when I was doing a play in high school in Michigan. Right before I went on stage, a girl kissed me…man I went out on stage and probably forgot all my lines, I was hooked then boy! I get kissed for going out on stage?!! I’m done! This is it buddy! (laughs) And you know what’s funny? I never let another girl kiss me before I went out on stage for a long time. That became a big superstition of mine.”

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So “Big Red” has a very highly trained acting background not only in film, but in theater…and not just any theatrical play- he was performing in Shakesphere plays by the time he was an adult, which is yet another shocker! “Big Red” knows Shakesphere? Could you imagine him saying lines like “For where art thou” and such?!!”

In an interview on the Monique Show, Robert Townsend (the creator of The Five Heartbeats) actually discovered Hawthorne while he was on stage performing a Shakesphere play and he just knew that he was the guy to play “Big Red.”

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And there you have it folks! “Big Red” was actually Professor “Big Red”…that kinda sounds like a fraternity pledge name from the movie School Dayz or something, doesn’t it? If Hawthorne James ever reads this article, I sure do hope he has a sense of humor about being called “Big Red,” because we wouldn’t want any of our staff members getting dangled over a balcony…I joke I joke, I kid, I kid, LOL. (Again, only those who have seen The Five Heartbeats will know what I’m talking about).

Seriously though, we really do greatly respect this brotha for staying dedicated to his craft and gracing us all with a character that left such a lasting impression on our souls.
-ILoveOldSchoolMusic, old school news with a new point of view

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