Interview with Actor James Mapes

TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine is always excited to present to its readers actors with multiple talents. There are many celebrities that fans have been surprised by in discovering the many abilities they have. One such actor is James Mapes.

James you first appeared in the 1973 movie ‘Shamus’. What first interested you in this career, and what training did you undertake before starting out in it ?

JM- I wanted to be an actor since I was a child but that was not very practical.  I entered college as a math major and chemistry minor.  It was a disaster.  Six years later I graduated from California State University Northridge with my Master in Theater.  My first season was with the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival making $15.00 a week and sleeping under the stage.  My next acting gig was a year at The New Orleans Repertory Theater where I got my Equity card.  Then, off to New York doing commercials, soaps stage and getting a foot in the door for film.  Oh yes, and developing my one man hypnosis show which I finally presented on Broadway a little over six years ago.

TAEM- How exciting was this for you at that time ?

JM- It was beyond excitement.  I had no fear, no responsibilities and didn’t mind doing dozens of auditions.  I loved auditioning.  I loved performing and I loved hanging out with actors.

TAEM- You also appeared in the film ‘Sisters’ that same year. Please give us the theme behind this production and the role that you played in it.

JM- A very young Margot Kidder  play Danielle Breton, a beautiful young model who meets an attractive young advertising rep on a Manhattan game show and he escorts her to her home to Staten Island. The next day, her neighbor Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt) plays a local reporter who witnesses a bloodbath of violence in Danielle’s apartment – and can’t get anyone to believe her. With the help of a private detective (Charles Durning), Grace attempts to solve the mystery.

I played a very small role of a guard but did get to chat with Margot Kidder and with the wonderful Charles Durning

TAEM- Within the next few years you were seen in two notable films, ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’ and ‘Taxi Driver’. What were these opportunities like for you, and who were some of the actors that you played along side of ?

JM- In “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” I played a cop.  I spent a lot of time down in the subway running up and down the tracks. The best thing about that film is that I got to meet the great Walter Matthau who literally kept me in stitches.

In “Taxi Driver” I played a Secret Service agent. Even though my two lines were cut out of the film, it became a miracle moment for me.  It just so happened that the clip that was shown on The Academy Awards had a very visible James Mapes in it.  I received more calls than you could imagine and all I was doing was wondering around in sun glasses looking very serious.

TAEM- How did you interact with them on, and off, the set ?


TAEM- ‘Star Trek’ was your next stomping ground in which we found you in two of their most notable projects, ‘Star Trek VI- The Undiscovered Country’ and ‘First Contact’. These were surely great moments in your career. Please tell our readers all about your experiences with them.

JM- The most interesting story about the Star Trek films is how I got to be in the films.  I had a friend arrange a meeting with Rick Berman, the producer who took over after Gene Rodenberry passed away.  I entered his massive office on the Paramount lot with one purpose in mind – to get a role in one of his films.  I took a couple of breaths, walked in and there was a statue of the late Gene Rodenberry with a blindfold tied around its eyes.  I asked why and Rick told me that he put the blindfold on the statue so Gene could not see what he was doing to him films.  That set the tone for a wonderful, fun half hour conversation.

I thought he might say something positive about my dream of acting in a Star Trek film but not a word was said.  I got up, shook his hand, thanked him for his time and turned to go out the door.  As my hand touched the door knob, Rick said, “By the way.  How would you like to appear in my next film?”  I did two and was supposed to do a third but got a contract to speak that I couldn’t get out of.

As for the actors, I had a wonderful time, met everyone from both casts and have now been to two conventions signing photographs from the films.  It is the gift that keeps on giving. What a blast!

TAEM- Since that time you appeared in ‘Do you Wanna Know a Secret’, ‘Conversations with God’, and ‘The Wicker Tree’. Please tell us about these and how they differed from all your previous work.

JM-“Do you Wanna Know a Secret” was a wonderful role where I played a corrupt mayor.  It was directed by a good friend of mine, Del Tenny, who was a great fan of my one-man show and knew I wanted to be in him film.  I had a blast with the actor Jack McGee who, at that time, had appeared in over 120 films and was a face I instantly recognized.

My brother-in-law directed “Conversations with God.”  I was a big fan of Neale Donald Walsch so, the rest is history.  I spent a great deal of time with the fabulous actor Henry Czerny now starring in the television series “Revenge.”

I got cast by Robin Hardy in the role of a lifetime in the horror/black comedy, “The Wicker Tree.”  Robin, a British Director and writer, directed the 1972 film classic “The Wicker Man.”  He saw my one-man show over 20 years ago.  Within two months, he cast me as the lead in two of his films.  I thought my career path was made and then – through a horrible financial disaster, he lost all his financing.  That was one of my biggest disappointments of my life.  But then, out of the blue, he called me from London and asked if I wanted to play a tap dancing, guitar playing, mandolin strumming Texas preacher in his new film.  Even though I neither tap dance nor play a musical instrument, I took a risk and did what needed to be done.  What a challenging and wonderful time.  I was the only American in the film and he put both my wife and me up at a castle in Scotland for 10 days!

TAEM- Acting has not been your only forte. You also appeared on stage as a motivational speaker with ‘Journey into the Imagination- through hypnosis’, and have written several inspiring books as well. Please shed light on these venues for our readers.

JM- I’ve been very blessed to have had four successful careers running at the same and to have the support system around me to help me do it.  My big book, “Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owner’s Guide to the Mind,” is still doing very well.  That took me 14 years to write.  I just finished a new book – nine years after starting it entitled “The Elephant and the Rider: Living an Exceptional Life.”  In fact, it just went off to the editor.  The Elephant is my metaphor for the subconscious mind and the Rider for the conscious mind.

Since its conception in 1973, I’ve performed the hypnosis show over 1500 times at universities, performing arts centers and on Broadway.  Although I don’t promote the show much, I would still like to do a few universities.  College students are the best and many have contacted me over the years to let me know what a difference the show has made in the way they think about the mind, motivation and possibilities.

A little over a year ago, I began a reinvention of my motivational business speaking career.  We have just launched our new web site and have ten speaking agents working with us.  I think your readers will have a good time reading the articles and watching the video clips on

TAEM- What are the next steps that you plan to take in your career ?

JM- I’m developed a program to help people who are going into surgery to reduce their fear and heal faster.  We have done one pilot program at Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport, CT for the physicians, surgeons and nurses with another planned for Yale/New Haven Hospital.

Then, my wife and I are going to write a movie based on a true story that happened.  Of course I’m developing this as a vehicle in which to act.

TAEM- James, I want to thank you for taking this time to interview with us. With the many college students who follow our magazine I am sure that they would be eager to learn more about you, and we hope that you will keep in touch with us about your career in the future. We certainly wish you luck in all that you do.


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