The New York Post
November 1, 1989

 Zany Pinchot puts accent on psychic

By Martin Burden

For some people, it's a surprise -- plus perhaps a touch of disappointment -- to meet Bronson Pinchot for the first time and discover he doesn't have an accent.

"I can see it in their faces," he said, "and I can understand it.  I remember once meeting Henry Winkler, after seeing him play The Fonz for so long on 'Happy Days' and thinking, 'My God, he doesn't have a New York accent!'"

And Pinchot is putting it across -- and again, and again -- in "Second Sight" (opening Friday), playing a zany psychic working for a detective agency run by private eye John Larroquette.  Bobby McGee (Pinchot) "channels" with a long-dead character named Murray, assuming his voice, and becomes a Chinese man, a jive talker and a half-dozen other personalities.

The actor's resume reads like a study in dialect: in "Beverly Hills Cop" as Serge, the haughty art gallery assistant, and for the last four seasons as Balki Bartokomous, the transplanted Mediterranean goat herder in "Perfect Strangers" who created the catch phrase "Dun by ridikerluss."  Both used mangled accents in what the actor calls "the Bronson Pinchot impressionism school of speech."

His role in "Second Sight" is wildly physical, bounding and contorting, growling and grumbling.  Sitting before a TV set, Larroquette casually rearranges Pinchot's arms and legs to get better reception.

For Pinchot, the role is another "half-step" in advancing his career, taking the audience along gently each half-step of the way.

"If you change characters in a giant step," he said, "people don't know what to make of it.  You have to go to the people with something of what they already know and like.  What Bill Murray, a comic, did with 'Razor's Edge'" -- playing a deeply dramatic role in a film that was a flop -- "was a big no-no; he did not do the half-step, he did the giant step.  But what Tom Hanks did in 'Punchline' had lots of funny things plus some moving things, so now he can move in either direction gracefully.

"When I went from 'Beverly Hills Cop' to 'Perfect Strangers,' it was a different character with different movements, but it was another sort of accent -- the half-step or overlapping.  Again, in 'Second Sight' the character is different from Balki but there's the same heavy emphasis on physical comedy, also the accent and goofy characters as a segue from 'Perfect Strangers.'"

Pinchot's credits include "Risky Business," "The Flamingo Kid" and "After Hours" -- not a heavy drama in there anywhere.

"I think they see me as a comic," he said.  "I don't get other scripts and I don't know that I'd send them to me, either.  I don't know why anyone would send me the same script they'd send Willem Dafoe, and it doesn't bother me.  That would be like having a beautiful house in Vermont and wondering why no one offers you a beautiful house in Miami, especially if you're happy in Vermont.  I'm perfectly happy doing what I do, and I do it well."

And so Pinchot recently made a TV film for ABC called "Jury Duty."  He played four parts, including a meek accountant, a Geraldo Rivera type and a guy who suddenly uses French phrases when he gets drunk.

Would they ever send a script like that to Willem Defoe?  Dun be ridikerluss!