Actor David Harris graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. He has worked with everyone from Meryl Street to Kevin Bacon. Harris is a classically trained theatre actor but the world may be familiar with one of the greatest cult classics of all time, “The Warriors.” Harris portrays Cochise in the film, the most elaborate of the bunch with his one-of-a-kind outfit and style. He created a character that would continue to inspire generations of actors, directors and fans around the globe. Mr. Harris took time to speak with me in a Horrornews.net exclusive about his long career that continues to thrive. He will be touring the world with the cast of “The Warriors” and coming together for one last ride at Coney Island. So as Cochise would say, “Well, we’ve made it and in an hour, it’s C.I.! the big Coney!”
The Warriors Return to Coney Island http://warriorsmovie.co.uk/blog/coney-island-cast-reunion-of-the-warriors
THE WARRIORS REUNUION AT CONEY ISLAND September 13, 2015
What made you want to become an actor?
Mr. Harris-I was also in the funny guy in high school that was acting up, always doing stuff in class. I really didn’t care about the geography of Europe or Asia or anywhere else. I was a funny guy and I had this personality and one of my English teachers said you know what, I want you to go to the drama class and see what you think, see how you feel in the drama class. I started going and I found my niche. I was not going to be a Math major, I was not going to be a Science major but hey here is my niche, I love acting. So I got into the drama classes in high school and then I went to professional acting school in New York and I graduated and started working as an actor.
What was it like attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York?
Mr. Harris-I had great people in my class, Peter Weller and a bunch of wonderful people that were in my class, working actors. I took drama classes in high school full time. This was all about acting, singing, dancing, and mime. It was a full chorus of just theatre. I enjoyed being in class every day, I never missed a day not even when I was not feeling well I went to school. I enjoyed taking all these acting classes, taking Shakespeare, taking August Wilson classes.
“The Warriors” Cochise: Hey, hey, hey. Now lookit whatcha find here in the big city!
When you took the role of Cochise in THE WARRIORS, did you think the film would have such a huge following till this day?
Mr. Harris – No, none of us did. We thought we had a little average movie that was shot in the 70’s. You know we were supposed to be shooting for nine weeks and we ended up going almost six months. Nobody expected that. We didn’t think that it would be an international cult classic that it has become. No one knew this. I thought it was great new role, I was a very young actor. I was the last Warrior to be cast. I was out of town in Minnesota doing a play. Walter Hill did not find anybody that he liked for the role of Cochise and finally I walked into the audition and I think Cochise just walked in and Walter just gave me the role.
How did you feel when you got the role of Cochise?
Mr. Harris- I felt great. As a young actor doing a major film like that in the streets of New York it was terrific. It was my first major feature film.
Could you please tell us about your latest projects including HIS DYING WISH?
Mr. Harris-Yes, I am going to be doing Star Trek: Equinox with Michael Beck. I have a wonderful little film that I shot that will be in the Northeastern Film Festival called “His Dying Wish,” directed by an incredible up and coming talented director named Larry Rosen. This man is an amazing director and he is going to be big, I believe. I did the film because I love the story. The writer is an amazing young woman named Drica Armstrong.
You have played some of the most memorable characters, do you have a favorite of your characters?
Mr. Harris-I like Private Smalls from “A Soldier’s Story.” It was a terrific movie, an incredible, amazing cast. Norman Jewison, an amazing director who has done just amazing Academy award winning pictures. It was just wonderful to work around Norman because he gives you so much freedom to investigate the character, create the character and embellish on the character and working with actors like Denzel Washington you can’t lose. The late Howard Rollins, the late Adolph Caesar, I mean I was working with actors that are just brilliant young actors. You had a great script because it all starts with the script. The script was an off-Broadway play. I was away when the play was going on. I was in the Philippines doing a movie opposite Cheryl Ladd and Ken Wahl. When I got back, Norman Jewison was casting the movie and he saw a bunch of people and didn’t find Private Smalls. I walked in and read with Adolph Caesar and the next thing you know my agent gets a call, hey Norman wants to hire David to play Private Smalls.
Who are some of your favorite Directors that you have worked with and who would you like to work with?
Mr. Harris-I want to work with Martin Scorsese, I want to work with Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Bill Dukes. There is a number of wonderful directors that I would love to work with. I worked with a lot of incredible T.V. directors. I cannot even remember half of the stuff I’ve done with guest shots over the past thirty years. I was out in California for a while and I was doing one show after another. Most of the stuff was guest shots. I am also theatre trained and when “The Warriors” was being cast I was out of town because I’ve been on Broadway with Mary Tyler Moore. I’ve been on Broadway opposite Meryl Streep, John Lithgow. I did “A Few Good Men” on Broadway. I didn’t get to the movie but Rob Reiner didn’t hire me, he hired his friend. That is the nature of the beast of the business. I met with him and it was wonderful but the bottom line is he saw me on Broadway and so did Tom Cruise and all the major actors in the movie came to see the play.
Have you ever considered putting something together to do on Broadway?
Mr. Harris-Well, I was kind of working on a script right now, I have a partner of mine. He is in California and we skype all the time. We are putting together this action movie but it is in its baby, baby stages. It may take us two more years and we will finally have a script ready where we can present it.
THE WARRIORS is considered a classic and it varies the genres, do you feel there has ever been another film like it?
Mr. Harris-No and I think that there will never be. We were shooting “The Warriors” and they were shooting another movie called “The Wanderers” with Ken Wahl. We always say, be a warrior, not a wanderer. That was our thing that we say. Ridley Scott’s brother Tony, had a copy and he was going to do a re-vised version of “The Warriors” in California but it would have never worked. There are certain movies that you can’t remake. I mean how do you remake “The Godfather?” There are certain films that you just don’t want to touch. It is such a classic.
Where do you think “The Warriors” would be in today’s world? The characters in the film? (Yes I had to ask!)
Mr. Harris-I think they would be youth counselors or something? I don’t know, I think half of them would be married with children or gone back to college and got a degree because “The Warriors” were really good guys. I think the guys would have grown up and moved on. I don’t think they would have been wearing the vest in their forties. On Halloween the movie is shown on so many college campuses and in Europe we have an amazing fan club. The fan club in Japan and Australia. I have been to Australia and I was swamped, I did an autograph signing and just thousands of fans came out. They couldn’t believe one of the Warriors were down under. Our fan club around the world is just amazing.
How do you feel when you meet the fans and the fans who dress up like the characters from “The Warriors” and what future appearances can Warrior fans look forward to?
Mr. Harris-I adore it, I am one of these actors that is not stand offish with the fans. They made my career, they appreciate my work and all the different movies I have done. Especially The Warrior fans because they are some of the most loyal fans in the world. I have fans that have seen “The Warriors” about two hundred times and that is loyal and hardcore. I love the fans. Michael Beck (horrificfilmfestival.com) and Apache Ramos and I will be at a wonderful convention called San Antonio Horrific Film Fest and the three headliners are Michael Beck, David Harris and Apache Ramos from “The Warriors.” Apache is not actually one of the warriors, he is one of the orphans. Then we have a major show, “The Warriors” are coming back to Coney Island for one last time, the entire cast. We are going to be on Coney Island, September 13 & 14th. It is all over Facebook. We are going to be on the cover of THE VILLAGE VOICE on September 2nd. The Warriors Return to Coney Island on the cover of The Village Voice. They painted a major mural out on the beach of “The Warriors.” It is going to be a big, big deal. “The Warriors” are coming together, back to Coney, the big CI for one last time. Everybody is going to get to meet us out at Coney Island, that’s our turf. The producer is Eric Nyenhuis, he is the one that is setting it all up. It is going to be an amazing event. We will be doing a big tour, one in Dubai, Japan and England.
What advice would you offer to fellow and upcoming Actors who would like to maintain longevity in their careers as you do?
Mr. Harris-Be truthful to yourself, never doubt yourself. You are going to fifty auditions and it seems like a week and you are not getting anything, never doubt yourself. Keep on believing, keep on auditioning, keep on studying with good actors and keep on doing off, off Broadway plays, keep your instrument tuned. Dancers are the hardest working artists on the planet. They go to dance class and they work their bodies, it is amazing what dancers do. I am a big fan of dancers, I love dancers. I think they are more hardworking than actors, singers, musicians, playwrights and directors because they are working with the whole body and their mind and spirit. It is all one. I would say believe in yourself, never give up, never doubt.
David D. Harris on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/actordaviddharris
David’s Official Website http://www.actordaviddharris.com/
David on Twitter https://twitter.com/00day007
The Warriors on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/warriorsmovie