A burly, mustachioed character actor frequently cast as law enforcement agents or villainous heavies, John Ashton began his acting career on the L.A. stage in the early 1970s after graduating from USC. The New Englander entered films as a police sergeant in "Psychopath" (1973) and went on to be cast as law enforcement agents in such efforts as "Breaking Away" (1979, as Dennis Quaid's older brother), "Borderline" (1980) and the cult favorite "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension" (1984). But it was his role as L.A. Police Sergeant John Taggart, opposite Eddie Murphy, in the action comedy "Beverly Hills Cop" (1984) and its 1987 sequel that made Ashton a recognizable face. He began landing better roles, like the bounty hunter chasing Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro in "Midnight Run" (1988) and as Eric Stoltz's college-obsessed father in "Some Kind of Wonderful" (1987). Among his more recent roles were the pitching coach in the children's baseball sleeper "Little Big League" and as part of the ensemble of fine actors peopling "the friendliest town in the world" in the uneven seasonal comedy "Trapped in Paradise" (both 1994).
Ashton has also worked steadily on the small screen, playing a state trooper in the TV-movie "This Man Stands Alone" (NBC, 1979), and one of the singer's entourage in "Elvis and the Beauty Queen" (NBC, 1981). He has appeared in several miniseries, most notably as detectives in both "A Death in California" (ABC, 1985) and "The Deliberate Stranger" (NBC, 1986) and the sheriff in "Stephen King's 'The Tommyknockers'" (ABC, 1993). The actor has reprised his film role in the short-lived series "Breaking Away" (ABC, 1980-81) and had a leading role in the NBC police drama "Hardball" (NBC, 1989-90), playing a veteran detective paired with a cocky, inexperienced partner. Other notable roles include the change of pace turns as a worried father of a kidnapped child in "I Know My First Name Is Steven" (NBC, 1989) and as the parent of a gymnast in "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes" (Lifetime, 1997).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Began acting lessons at age 12
Professional stage debut at age 14 in small role in production of "Othello" at the Hartford Stage Company
While appearing with a touring theater troupe from USC, won scholarship to travel abroad; appeared in 15 productions throughout Europe
Feature film debut, "Psychopath"
TV debut in a miniseries, "The Rhinemann Exchange"
TV-movie debut, "This Man Stands Alone"
Played Dennis Quaid's older brother in "Breaking Away"
Debut as regular on a TV series, reprising film role in "Breaking Away" (ABC)
Breakthrough feature role, the police captain in "Beverly Hills Cop"
Reprised role in "Beverly Hills Cop II"
Delivered a memorable turn as Robert De Niro's nemesis in "Midnight Run"
Played leading role in the NBC police drama TV series, "Hardball"
Starred in ABC miniseries "Stephen King's The Tommyknockers"
Co-starred in "Little Big League"
Played the father of a gymnast in the Lifetime TV-movie "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes"
Appeared in the indie film "Bill's Gun Shop"
Played a Boston detective in Ben Affleck's feature directing debut "Gone, Baby, Gone"