Bronson Pinchot ('The Art Critic')
'The Man That Would Be, Huggy-Bear!'
Bronson Pinchot was born in New York and raised in California, then returned to the East Coast to study at the Yale School of Drama. The common misconception is that Pinchot sprang fully grown as a comedian with his performance as an effete, bizarrely accented art gallery assistant in Beverly Hills Cop (1984).
Actually he'd been in films since 1982, but his Cop appearance was his breakthrough role, and was instrumental in his receiving the starring assignment of Balki Bartokomous ("Doan be reedeeculus!"), ingenuous immigrant from the mythical country of Mypos, in the popular TV sitcom Perfect Strangers (1986).
In his latest film, 'Mr. Art Critic,' after a scolding from his boss, a high profile art critic (Pinchot) known for his heartless commentaries, retreats to his cottage on the lake to clear his head. There he runs into a recent victim of one of his particularly nasty reviews and makes a drunken proclamation that any idiot can make art, followed by an impossible wager and finds himself entered into the town's art festival competition.
Exclusive Magazine had the recent opportunity to speak with Bronson Pinchot about his new movie, his motivation behind his character, his work in other star roles (including that of 'The Langoliers'), and his self-perscribed length of mourning period (you'll understand, trust me!).
Your new film, although filmed in 2007, is named 'Mr. Art Critic' ... so, before undertaking this film did you visit any Art Galleries to prep yourself, perhaps?! "Since I personally detest virtually all art after about 1920, and since this art critic’s milieu is contemporary art galleries, I didn’t have to look around to know I would be in the right groove. In fact, at one point, I was riffing off-camera about how loathsome a particular painting was, and the artist was standing nearby. Awkward."
In the film you make a drunken bet that any one can make art, thus entering yourself into the town's art festival competition! Noting your (character's) reluctance to paint in this movie I was wondering if you (in real life) were actually a painter; or had indeed ever entered anything artistic into a competition before? "In real life I did study painting and I am extremely visual and sketch constantly. In the movie as it was originally written the character does make a bad little painting which he is not satisfied with – it was my suggestion to Rich Brauer that the character actually be unable to put a single brushstroke to the canvas."
The film basically takes off once we find out you are a person whose reviews are, well, scathingly (overly) truthful! In real life, has there been any such scathing reviews of some film work you've undertaken that might have left you knowing what being on the other side felt like, shall we say?! "I once got a review that was so scathing that before the next time I set foot on a stage I had to go to hypnotherapy to get over my stagefright. It must have been successful, because, for that second play, that very same critic wrote that I was incapable of making a wrong move on stage."
'Mr. Art Critic' was written, directed and produced by Richard Brauer ... whilst you were filming, how much of the script changed along the way from your input as a seasoned film veteran? "We would sit up at night and thin it down. He is a fantastic collaborator that way – my thought was, ‘now that you have elucidated what each segment is, some of those segments can be said outright, and many can be merely expressed on our faces. I would say we cut up to 40% of the dialog, but we used the lines we cut to guide our inner thoughts."
In a funny twist of fate, your beloved character Serge ('Beverly Hills Cop') was an associate art dealer back in the mid-'80s ... did you perhaps channel any of his nuances for the trade here in 'Mr. Art Critic,' perhaps?! "I didn’t channel any of Serge, as Serge’s attitude was that the doubtful art in that gallery was exceptional and important."
And talking of Serge, who was easily one of the most well known characters of the '80s, even given the small amount of time you spent on screen each time, how many times a year are you asked to 'perform' Serge-like quotes at parties and gatherings?! "Hardly any."
In other news, you've appeared in 'Law & Order: SVU' and 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent' ... any chance of completing the hattrick and appearing in the original 'Law & Order' show, perhaps?! "I suppose anything’s possible."
Taking you all the way back to Balki Bartokomous in 'Perfect Strangers,' in reflection, what were those days like, what is one of your stand out memories, and were you upset when it all came to an end in 1993? "I didn’t realize I was upset but at the final curtain call someone asked if Mark Linn and I would do the Dance of Joy “one last time” and I suddenly lost it and was bent double sobbing uncontrollably while Mark patted me on the back and whispered “pull it together, buddy!”
Is it true you have a 16-hour mourning period when you lose out on a role you've auditioned for?! And if so, exactly what form does this mourning take? And, what was the last lost-out-on role that had you in this state?! "Well, I don’t know if it’s 16 hours every time. Sometimes it’s sixteen minutes, and sometimes it’s sixteen days. What form does it take? Pouting and self-pity and eating Asiago Cheese Bread toast by the loaf-ful."
Your role as the child murderer in 'The Langoliers' was out of this world (no pun intended - I think!), but with the movie being so all over the place visually/conceptually, was it hard for you to act in - not knowing what was a reality and what wasn't for your character, etc? "I don’t remember it being all that difficult, except for Day One, where the director said, “OK, lie down on the ground, and when I say ACTION the monsters are eating you from the feet up!.....And…..ACTION!”
Lastly, you've been quoted as saying that every time you do a role, it's the same thing, that it's you telling your life story through somebody else's material. So, and with that in mind, what part of your life story is being played out for us in your role as 'Mr. Art Critic'? "Ah, that’s quite an interesting question. What is definitely being played out in MR. ART CRITIC is the fact that the character’s pomposity is a front for his vulnerability. I don’t know that it was particularly written that way, but that’s what I decided to bring to it."
"I basically played him as someone who was longing to be understood and accepted and who, in his loneliness, got a little brittle. People who don’t know me sometimes mistake my booklearning and intensity for disapproval and snottiness, and it leaves me a little stranded until they realize what I’m all about. Then I’m a huggy-bear and we all sit down to breakfast. Story of my life."
Interview: Russell A. Trunk
'Mr. Art Critic' Trailer
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