Daily Bruin Arts & Entertainment
February 28, 1990

 Scared Stranger:
Bronson Pinchot has had to adjust to not being just another face in the crowd

By Shalmali Pal

Actor Bronson Pinchot used to hate being recognized in public.  I know because I once did the recognizing.

About four years ago, my friends and I were in Westwood when who should I spot through a restaurant's picture window but Bronson Pinchot.  I had to yell, "Look, there's that guy from Perfect Strangers!" and, of course, everyone within earshot came to gape.

He didn't look extremely upset but he didn't look particularly thriller either.  In fact, he didn't look at all.  The silent treatment at its best.

"I went through this bad paranoid period," Pinchot said after his talk in Ackerman lounge (at UCLA) on Monday.  "All the rules are utterly destroyed when you're famous."

Pinchot's former paranoia grew to the point where he decided to consult a psychiatrist to ease him through both work pressure and the fact that people were "staring at every bite I ate."

Completely ignorant of Pinchot's celebrity status, the psychiatrist declared him to be "very disturbed."  But a walk in downtown New York cleared up any suggestion of mental illness when the two were mobbed by a gaggle of screeching high school girls.  Positive proof that Bronson was not in the least bit disturbed -- only a star.

"Now I approach people first which solves 99 percent of the problem," he said.

Pinchot's being approached at all is due, in part, to the popularity of the show Perfect Strangers and his character Balki.  The innocent sheepherder from Mypos has gained global acceptance, especially from foreigners.

"Balki is an amalgamation of the qualities of immigrants . . . glorifying that whole world of immigrants," he said.  "He's magical beyond good and sweet."

Pinchot's first influential acting experience came while he was an undergraduate at Yale.  He won a part in a production of Shakespeare's As You Like It and the director was so impressed with Pinchot's rapport with the audience he told him, "You're worth teaching how to act."  Eventually, an acting class was coordinated around Pinchot and a few select others.

Although this may have been Pinchot's initiation into the acting field, many others claimed the privilege of discovery.

"I've been discovered at least five times in my career," he said referring to all his work prior to Risky Business and up to Perfect Strangers.  "After the first time, I had to laugh."

Making people laugh is Pinchot's specialty but he says he does have a yearning for dramatic parts.  "I like challenging roles that aren't defined around people," he said.

For Pinchot, that was one of the problems with his character in the film Second Sight.  "People could spot a mile off that the character was invented around Bronson Pinchot," he said.

Having worked in both theater and film, Pinchot said television combines elements of both -- a live audience and the opportunity to be "almost perfect in film because you can do it twenty times."

A complaint Pinchot lodges against the television industry is its tendency to "water down" what it presents to the viewers.  "They just assume the audience has bad taste," he said.

Writing for television or opening an antique business are some of the alternatives to an acting career Pinchot would consider pursuing.  Pinchot said he'd even be interested in hosting his own talk show.  "It's impossible for me to shut up," he said.  "I just turn on the ignition and go for a ride."