Petersburg Times - TV Dial
May 22, 1988
Pinchot is a Survivor
By Stephanie DuBois - © Tribune media services
HOLLYWOOD - The eyes
with the irrepressible twinkle that millions of Balki Bartokomous fans have come
to love are hidden behind Bronson Pinchot's black-rimmed glasses. The Perfect
Strangers actor is low key and subdued as he talks from behind his desk in
the sparsely furnished trailer on the Lorimar Studios lot.
As his personal
assistant goes to get soft drinks, he expresses his appreciate for all that she
does for him.
"I went a
longer time than most people before I hired an assistant. I was going
crazy trying to do everything myself," says Pinchot.
And he says it
didn't occur to him to hire a publicist until "I went to the Emmys with
Mark Linn-Baker, and his publicist was like 'Now this is your seat and the
backstage bathrooms are over there.' I was sitting there thinking, 'Nobody
cares about whether I fall, have a heart attack, die or even know where the
surrogate dad kind of thing," says the 28-year-old of his publicist.
"He acts as a buffer for the press and takes me around and says, 'Now you
do this.' It's great."
"I feel like I
did when I was in college. The food was there. The room was there
and I could just play. I'm free to just kind of be the 11-year-old that I
am. I feel my personal propensity for playing has come into its own."
Though the child in
Pinchot is having the time of his life now, he says all the good times in the
world would still not erase the past.
"They say your
subconscious has no concept of time, so the part of you that was 11 years old
and miserable is still alive inside you," says Pinchot.
Unpopular in school,
Pinchot describes himself as having been "a funny-looking kid. Obese,
teeth sticking out in every direction. And if that wasn't bad enough,
people mistreated me because I was precocious and smart. It was very
"Even now when
I jump out of a limo and there's a billion people taking photographs, there's
still a really alive kid inside me who's saying, 'Why didn't anyone like me in
The actor (who was
featured in Risky Business and Beverly Hills Cop) wants people to
know how miserable his childhood was, so that kids who are unpopular will take
heart in the fact "this was a kid you couldn't possibly have guessed would
He wants the
bookworms, wallflowers and class rejects to find strength in the fact that
youngsters who experience rejection from their peers "are the
survivors. They're on a springlike diving board. They can bounce on
those experiences and bounce high.
"The people who
were the captains of the teams petered out. They hit their peak at
17. And now ten years later they're like the gentleman caller in The
Glass Menagerie, wondering 'Where did it go?' They were on a nice
solid board in high school but you can't get any bounce out of that. Some
people don't peak till they're forty. I'd rather be one of those
people. If you peak in your teens, what are you going to do at 76?"
Pinchot says even in
his youth, there was "always somebody who cared. Some teacher who
knew you were the smartest kid in school." But back then he didn't
realize the importance of someone else's belief in his abilities.
interesting to let other people influence you and say 'I see you as this,'"
says Pinchot, who almost passed up the opportunity to do Perfect Strangers
because his own vision of himself was limited.
ago, right after I did Beverly Hills Cop, these producers came to me and
said, 'We deeply feel you are right to play this character we've got in our
heads who is all heart, innocence and love," explains Pinchot.
"I thought they were literally from Mars. I was thinking, 'Where the
hell do you see this?' I'd just played this incredibly cynical, jaded,
arms-length character who was wrapped up in his own sexuality and sense of
style. I didn't know if I could do it and it scared me."
Now, says Pinchot of
the incorrigibly innocent character he plays on the ABC series, "I can't
picture myself playing a bad guy."
Pinchot says he has
come to love what Balki stands for. "The character does spread a
message of love. Sometimes when I'm having a bad day or somebody says,
'You're a brat,' I say, 'But you know what? Once a week I make 30-million
people smile. That's what I do for a living, Buster! What do you
He laughs -- and
behind the black-rimmed glasses I finally catch a glimpse of that irrepressible