Fred Williamson: Still Putting Down “The Hammer” At 80!

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Fred Williamson is the former Oakland Raiders/Kansas City Chiefs football star who rose to prominence as one of the first African-American male action stars of the “blaxploitation” genre of the early 1970s. Actually Fred became one of its most successful action stars. He was literally called, “Boss Ni**er.”

Fred has since gone on to a long and illustrious career as an actor, director, writer, and producer. The handsome 6′ 3″ Williamson first came to attention in the TV series Julia (1968) playing love interest, Steve Bruce. However, his rugged, athletic physique made him a natural for energetic roles and he quickly established himself as a street wise, tough guy in films including That Man Bolt (1973), Black Caesar (1973), and Mean Johnny Barrows (1976).

Talented Williamson established his own production company “Po ‘Boy Productions” in 1974, which has produced over 40 movies to date. Like many young American stars of the 1960s and ’70s, Williamson was noticed by Italian producers who cast him in a slew of B-grade action movies that occupied a lot of his work in the 1980s. From the late ’80s onwards, much of his work has been of the “straight to video” movies (often playing police officers), but none could deny he has kept actively busy in movies and TV for over three decades, both in front of and behind the camera. More recently, indie director Robert Rodriguez cast him alongside FX guru Tom Savini as two vampire killing bikers, in his bloody action film From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), and he has most recently appeared on screen (displaying his wonderful comedy skills) playing grumpy Captain Dobey in the Starsky & Hutch remake.

“I got into producing and directing for the simple reason they want to kill the black guy in the first five minutes of the film,” explains Williamson to The Undefeated. “And [then] have Arnold Schwarzenegger avenge his death. That’s not what I got into the business for. Kill Schwarzenegger and let me avenge his death. That’s what I’m about. I’ve got three rules in Hollywood: (1) You can’t kill me in the movie, (2) I want to win all my fights in a movie, and (3) I get the girl at the end of the movie if I want her. I throw in the third one knowing full well that they’re not going to give me that one, so I give them an out by saying, ‘You’ve got to do two out of the three.’”

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Williamsson’s first got into acting before getting behind the camera. The reason behind it is simply a classic.

“Once I stopped playing football … I didn’t want to sell cars. I didn’t want to be an insurance salesman like most of the players coming out, you know? You weren’t making enough money back in the day to support yourself on a football salary. You had to have a second job. My signing bonus when I came out of college was only…