Memorably portraying gruff authority figures in such features as Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and King Kong Lives (1986), longtime character actor John Ashton possesses just the sort of rough-around-the-edges, grating quality that viewers love to hate. A native of Springfield, MA, who graduated from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Ashton got his start onscreen with a supporting role in the 1973 thriller The Psychopath, a role that served to define his future career path in cinematic law enforcement. Small-screen roles in Kojak and Police Story only served to reinforce this path, and in 1978 Ashton became a familiar face to television viewers when he joined the cast of the prime-time hit Dallas. Continuing to alternate between television and film into the following decade, the 1980s proved a lucrative period for Ashton as roles in Honky Tonk Freeway (1981), The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (1984), Beverly Hills Cop (as well as its sequel), and Midnight Run (1988) found him toying with his haggard image to the amusement of movie lovers worldwide. Though not as prominent onscreen in the 1990s, Ashton averaged about two films a year with roles in The Tommyknockers (1993), Trapped in Paradise (1994), and Meet the Deedles (1998), culminating with an impressive performance as the eponymous character in the 2001 thriller Bill's Gun Shop, which proved once and for all that his edge was still very much intact. His performance was so impressive, in fact, that he was subsequently cast in the lead of the 2002 drama Sweet Deadly Dreams.