York Daily News Extra
May 10, 1990
Change of Accents
Apartment,' Bronson Pinchot shows
that he's no stranger to the stage
Daily News Staff Writer
Bronson Pinchot has grown a beard for his
role in "Zoya's Apartment," a Russian play opening at the Circle in
the Square. Has it fooled anyone? Not a bit.
When he and a photographer went out into
the street in front of his apartment building to take pictures, the fotog came
"Must have been 14 or 15 people
rushed up to him. Wanted his autograph. On Seventh Ave., no
That's what comes of having a hit TV show,
and Pinchot certainly does. For the past five years, he has been coming
into people's living rooms as Balki Bartokomous, the innocent Greek sheepherder
trying to cope with life in Chicago on the ABC sitcom "Perfect
Strangers." But that just shows what a good actor he really is.
Balki is about as far removed from Bronson
as Greece is from Zoya's Moscow apartment, but Pinchot seems to be able to
straddle the two without much trouble, though he insists that none of the
performers in the play -- including himself -- is using an accent. And
isn't that special, especially for someone who seems to have (up to now, anyhow)
made his living accentuating?
"I don't know how that
happened," he says. "I didn't start out that way. I always
had kind of a talent for mimicking people, and I could do it in their
voices. But I never thought that would be the way people thought of me
It is strange. Pinchot, who's just
30, was born in New York but raised in California. He's a studious fellow
who reads a lot, collects antiques and lives in a house near the beach in
While in high school, he thought he'd like
to be an illustrator, using another of his talents. But one of his
teachers and his mother combined forces and talked him into applying to
Yale. He figured he didn't have a prayer of being accepted, but to his
surprise, he was, and he spent the next four years in New Haven on a
But all thoughts of illustration fled his
mind once he answered a plea on a bulletin board looking for anyone interested
in acting to audition for a play. He showed up, was cast, and so was the
die. He has never turned back.
In college, he did classics and classical
comedy. He even sang -- as one of the strolling minstrels at the Stratford
(Conn.) Shakespeare Festival in the summer.
But he was eager to do more.
"It was strange," he says, stretched out on a sofa in the big,
old-fashioned apartment he's living in while he's here. "When I first
got to college, I felt, wow -- here I am, I could die happy! But four
years later, I was a senior and all I could think of was, get me out of
here. I want to get on to something else!" He feels that way
about his role in "Perfect Strangers": "Five years is a long time
to be one character," he says with a voice that sounds weary.
"That's 96 half-hours I've done in character. Do you know how much
time that is? A lot."
But right now, he's spending his three
months off as an entirely different person. "I worked for Ted Mann at
Circle in the Square seven years ago in a workshop [Mann is artistic
director]. He liked what I did, and we've kept in touch. And here it
is seven years later, I came East to be on the David Letterman show and I knew
the hiatus was coming up, so I called and asked if he had anything I could do.
"He said 'Yes!' right away, and I met
with the director, Boris Morozov, who doesn't speak a word of English, but we
got along very well. At first we spoke through an interpreter, but he
still doesn't speak English and we don't speak Russian, but we all understand
"He's a director of the Maly Theater
in Moscow, and he came here as part of an exchange -- Ted directed a play there
last year. I liked him right away. I can spot a good director or a
good antique -- even though I'm myiopic -- anywhere. So I agreed.
[It's a three-character play; the other two actors are Linda Thorson and Robert
"Anyway, Boris wanted to do this play
here. It's a satire, we call it a 'tragic farce.' It was written by
Mikhail Bulgakov, and it takes a lot of shots at the corruption in bureaucracy,
and that's what I'll be doing the next few months."
Now that is special!