January 13, 2023 Interview – Tom Berenger
The name Tom Berenger is one of the most recognized in Hollywood. A diverse actor, Berenger has been mastering his craft for over five decades, starring in a list of memorable films as well as television series. Vividly remembered for his roles in 1986’s Platoon, 1991’s Major League, 1993’s Gettysburg, among many others, he is someone who certainly loves a challenge. Starring in everything from Drama to Thriller to Comedy, there really seems to be nothing Berenger cannot excel at.
Still going strong, the seasoned actor recently led the cast for the new Action-Thriller Black Warrant. A film featuring Jeff Fahey, Berenger portrays an assassin coming out of retirement one last time. A fun film, Berenger recently took the time to reflect on his impressive career, fond memories of Major League, his role in Black Warrant, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in film/television for some time and have attained a great deal of success through the decades in both. Spreading yourself across various genres, briefly tell us, how would you describe your journey as an actor to this point?
Tom Berenger – You know, I don’t think about it every day or that much at all really. It’s been a long road and a lot of years. (Laughs) I am sometimes baffled that it’s been over thirty years since Platoon (1986). Next thing you know, it’s gone. The older you get the time moves by faster… you will see that yourself.
It’s like those old movies where a breeze blows through an empty kitchen, you see an apple pie cooling off in the window sill, and a curtain is going in and out of the window. Then in the same scene you see the pages flying off the calendar one by one by one. That is how they used to show passage of time in older movies, and I have always remembered that.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, time does fly by for sure. One can imagine when you are busy working it keeps you occupied because you are concentrating on the work and just moving forward.
Tom Berenger – Yes, and when you are actually working, you are so locked into that. Every day, every night when you go home, every morning when you get up… it keeps going like that until the day you wrap. That is kind of weird because there has been a lot of adrenaline and energy released, and then that stuff is spent and done. Then you go, “Is that it?” … yea, it’s time to go home. It’s weird, anticlimactic, and sad sometimes.
Cryptic Rock – Right, so much of yourself is given in a certain period of time and then it comes to an abrupt ending. As mentioned, you have really spread yourself all across the board in genres; from Drama to Comedy to Thrillers. Do you have a favorite genre to work in, or do you like them all?
Tom Berenger – I like them all. I like when I get a chance to do a Comedy again, it’s just a nice break from the other stuff.
Cryptic Rock – It is good to have that diversity. Comedy is a blast to watch, so it must be a blast to make. You were a huge part of Major League (1989) and Major League II (1994). Major League is perhaps one of the best baseball films ever made.
Tom Berenger – Oh yea! Corbin Bernsen is one of the funniest people I have ever worked with. I remember begging Wolfgang Petersen (may he rest in peace) to see Corbin Bernsen for the part of my partner in Shattered (1991). As usual, Corbin was hysterical and he had Wolfgang laughing; Wolfgang was a very funny guy himself. I remember walking by Wolfgang’s office and his secretary said, “They’re still in there, they have been in there for an hour and a half!” I said, “He’s got the part,” She said, “I think so, yea!” Corbin and I still see each other from time to time.
With Major League II, the director (David S. Ward) asked me, “What do you think?” I said, “It’s hysterical, scene after scene, moment after moment.” Then he said, “But maybe too many jokes?” I said, “Well, the first one is great and is a Comedy, but it had a lot of heart to it.” At the end of Major League, you feel a little tear coming down when they win the pennant. He said, “This one is probably too many jokes.” I said, yea, it doesn’t have as much heart, but remember, neither do the characters. They are all like prima donnas in Major League II, but that is the plot.
Cryptic Rock – Right, but both films are still very enjoyable. Speaking of different genres, you are in a new Action-Thriller film called Black Warrant. How did this role come about for you?
Tom Berenger – I didn’t know the director and the only actor I knew in the film was Jeff Fahey. I am not really sure how it came about for me. I had played in Sniper (1993), and my character in Black Warrant is also a sniper, but he is more than that. He is a sniper, but he is also an espionage agent for the lack of another word.
Cryptic Rock – In Black Warrant your character is sort of an assassin. How would you compare your role in Sniper to Black Warrant?
Tom Berenger – They’re different because my character in Sniper is military; the guy is a Vietnam vet. The character in Black Warrant is not military. He also doesn’t carry himself like a soldier necessarily either.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, they are a bit different. Black Warrant has a bit of a throwback feeling to something that might have been filmed in the late ‘80s or ‘90s. Was that something you felt too?
Tom Berenger – Yes, I did feel that a little bit. I didn’t know what to compare it to though. I thought, have I seen something like this before? It’s not James Bond, because James Bond had a lot of tongue-in-cheek stuff going on. There is something dated about Black Warrant though.
Cryptic Rock – You can feel it. Even your character living on a boat and laying low, it felt reminiscent of Miami Vice in a way.
Tom Berenger – Yes, it did have that vibe. I liked the fact that he lived on the boat down there in Mexico. I told the prop girl, “There are too many playing cards here.” I said, “There are four decks of playing cards here and they are all over the place.” It’s ok to make it messy, but I don’t need four decks of playing cards all over. She said, “ok, ok.” The character is not military, so he might be a little messy domestically, but I don’t think you would have that many open decks with cards laying all over the place.
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) That is very true. Black Warrant is out now for people to check out. Last question for you, do you have any other projects coming up?
Tom Berenger – You know I had two or three, but the scheduling on these things is cryptic. They keep getting put off or there is some problem here or there; it’s partially the way the business is now. My agent said he is talking to other agents, and it’s not just me, other people are having the same problem. I got on the phone and asked, “What the hell is going on with this or that?” They either have the funding or the distributor, but they don’t have both at the same time; you have the horse and the cart both at the same time. My agent tells me I’m trying to be positive about things… they are not saying no. I tell him, well you have to keep checking, right?
They are not saying things are not going to happen, or it fell through the cracks… nobody wants to admit defeat. I’m not sure they are at that point yet. So, I rather not talk physically about those projects, because I might jinx myself. (Laughs)