Disney Adventures Magazine
June 1991

 Bronson Pinchot: Heís NOT Ridiculous!

Written by Celeste Freman
Photography by Timothy White / Onyx
Grooming by Joe Haly
Illustrations by Juanita Kuan

    

When you meet Bronson Pinchot for lunch, itís hard to know what to expect.  Youíre almost ready to see some silly guy with an accent shouting "Donít be ridikalaus!" like he does as Balki, the country bumpkin Mypiot shepherd on the hit TV show "Perfect Strangers."

Instead, you find a nice, low-key, very smart, normal kind of guy.  Well, okay, make that sort of normal.  In the course of the meal, he yanks at the waitressís apron strings, makes faces across the table, and giggles crazily at his own jokes.  So, who is the real Bronson, you wonder: the calm one or the crazy one?

Read on and decide for yourself . . . .

Your character, Balki, is almost like a big kid.  Do people often confuse you with the role you play on TV?

A: Well, yes and no.  I donít think they really expect me to speak with an accent.  But Iím pretty sure that people sense that when I goof around as Balki, thatís the way I goof around when Iím alone with my friends.  And theyíre right.

Were you funny as a kid?

A: My whole family was funny.  We spent a lot of time doing imitations of each other.  Sometimes now, Iíll call my motherís answering machine and leave a whole conversation as if she picked up.  Iíll imitate her saying things like, "Oh my God, your brotherís bankrupt again!  And your sisterís driving me crazy.  What am I going to do-o-oo!!"  She gets a real kick out of it.

Raising four kids who do imitations of their mother Ė thatíd drive any mom Ďround the bend!

A: My mother was pretty funny herself.  She was always doing weird voices to make us laugh.  For example, my brothers and my sister all had troll dolls [a troll is a mythological goblin-like creature].  And they all had names.  My mother would tape interviews with the dolls like she was on "60 Minutes."  She would ask them questions about their country and they would answer in accents.  Sheíd even create a national anthem for them.  It was hilarious.

I read somewhere that you werenít real popular in school. Is that true?

A: Yeah.  Mostly in junior high school.  See, at the time I didnít know anything about sports.  I knew about Shakespeare and about Renaissance art because my mother exposed all of us to a wide variety of things.  Sheíd read plays to us around the dinner table.  But I didnít know the first thing about catching a softball.  Consequently, if the coach put me on the softball team, the other kids on the team would get really upset because I couldnít hit a ball.

The first time anyone ever taught me the right way to catch a football was when I was 23 years old.  I was on a film set and this other actor said, "Letís go and throw a football around."  And I said, "I donít know how to throw a football around."  He couldnít believe it.  But nobody ever taught me how to do it.  So this guy taught me.

Did you have a girlfriend in junior high?

A: Yeah.  Kathy.  The funny part about it was that Kathy was really sporty.  She was good at girlís softball.  As a matter of fact, she was the only one who took me to the park and showed my how to catch a fly ball.  Then weíd go back and kiss on her front porch.  It was great!

Were you fat as a kid?

A: Yeah.  I was the fattest kid at school.

Amazing, considering how thin you look now. Did you have a favorite dessert?

A: Chocolate eclairs.  And my other favorite thing was a sandwich with chunky peanut butter with grape jam or strawberry jam on wheat bread dipped in chocolate milk.

What about your happy dreams as a kid? Did you ever dream you could fly?

A: Sure.  I used to dream all the time that I was flying around our Sunday school because it had an unbelievably tall ceiling.  It was wonderful.  It was like swimming through the air.

What are you strongest dislikes?

A: I donít like violence.  I donít like cruelty.  I donít like phoniness or anything that messes up the environment.  I donít like anything thatís plastic or shiny.

Nothing shiny? What about shiny tinsel on a Christmas tree or a shiny birthday ribbon?

A: Nothing shiny.

Thatís weird, Bronson. What about glossy photographs?

A: Nope.  I like matte finishes on photos.

Chrome?

A: I hate it.  Everything at my house is old, like weathered stone from old demolished buildings or old wood furniture from New Mexico that has been weathered by the sun.  The only thing I like to be shiny is my car after itís been washed.  But nothing else.

To change the subject completely, is it fun being famous?

A: Well, I think my experience is much different than, say Tom Cruiseís.  Nobody faints or screams when they see me.  They smile and wave and laugh as if theyíve known my for years.  Itís like Iím everybodyís cousin.  And I think thatís really neat.

One last question: If you designed a personalized license plate to sum up your philosophy of life, what would it be?

A: Iíve got one on my car.  It says, "Mypiot."

Balki is from the island of Mypos, so heís a Mypiot, right?

A: Exactly.  And Balkiís point of view pretty much expresses my view of life, which is simply this: Ignore the ugliness.  Look for the good things.  And always look for fun.