Balki Bartokomous Blasts Cruise, Denzel, Midler

If you’re like me and enjoyed the hell out of the late 80s-early 90s sitcom “Perfect Strangers,” a pillar of the original TGIF lineup, then you’re sure to enjoy a new interview with series star Bronson Pinchot in the Onion A/V Club.

This excellent Q&A was passed along by our organization’s invaluable C. Dave

It’s headlined simply “Bronson Pinchot,” but it could easily have been called “Bronson Pinchot Shit Talks Everybody.”

Pinchot (born Bronson Alcott Poncharavsky, btw) has been around for a while, and played supporting roles in a ton of films that also featured huge stars…either at their zenith, on the rise, or on the way down.

He’s not afraid to dish on each and every one of those chumps, and this interview features him wielding a gossip flamethrower against half of Hollywood.

Possibly the most damning comments are those leveled against Tom Cruise, with whom Pinchot co-starred in the 1983 classic “Risky Business.”


Pinchot slams Cruise, describing him as a bizarre, midgetary douche with a very odd penchant for dissing homosexuals.

BP: We didn’t know it was going to be a big hit. We thought Tom [Cruise] was the biggest bore on the face of the Earth. He had spent some formative time with Sean Penn—we were all very young at the time, Tom was 20, I was 23. Tom had picked up this knack of calling everyone by their character names, because that would probably make your performance better, and I don’t agree with that. I think that acting is acting, and the rest of the time, you should be you, but he called us all by our character names.

He was tense and made constant, constant unrelated homophobic comments, like, “You want some ice cream, in case there are no gay people there?” I mean, his lingo was larded with the most… There was no basis for it. It was like, “It’s a nice day, I’m glad there are no gay people standing here.” Very, very strange.

Years and years later when people started to torment him with that, I used to think “God, that’s really fitting, because he tormented a lot of people as a 20-year-old.” He made such a big deal about it.


If you spent many years in the theater, and then you show up in movies, and people have on their to-do list for the day that they’re going to make a comment every third sentence, it strikes you as very strange. I just thought it was very funny that years later, that became his bugaboo. Which is a nice 1930s term I thought you’d enjoy.

AVC: Do you think he was just insecure? Or that he was young?

BP: I really don’t know. It is what it is; there’s nothing I can add to it. If someone’s 20 years old and every third line out of their mouth is anti-something specific, then draw your own conclusion. I thought it was very weird…I don’t like any kind of conversational agenda; it makes me uncomfortable. I just think it’s weird. Unless you’re with your very best friends and you’re being silly. Then you can do whatever you want.

AVC: Did you have a sense that even though Tom Cruise was boring and unpleasant, he would be exciting onscreen?

BP: Oh, no. I thought the movie would disappear. It just goes to show you, I obviously don’t have the antennae for that. I didn’t see it at all, but neither did any of the actors. All of the actors who talked about him were like, “What is this guy all about?” And you know, honestly, I never got it, and I don’t get it to this day. But it was his breakout film. He always talked about himself like he was a mega-superstar; that was weird, too.

Pinchot has kind words for Tom Hanks — he likes both Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson — and holds him up as proof that not all A-list stars are evil. Then he gets back to ripping A-listers!

bev hills cop

After his brilliant performance in Beverly Hills Cop, Pinchot later returned to the series for an appearance in Beverly Hills Cop 3.

This time, series star Eddie Murphy was no longer on the dizzying upswing of his career, and he was depressed about it:

Beverly Hills Cop opened up a whole world. I got the television show and movies, and I would go sign autographs for one hour and get paid $25,000. I had bodyguards and police barricades, and I had that whole life from 1985 to about 1992, ’93. Eddie was going through his period at the time of doing movies that were not hits, and he was very low-spirited, low-energy. I said to him, “All anyone ever wants to know when they meet me is what you’re like.” And he said, “I bet they don’t ask that anymore.”


And I can understand it—he was just having a bad stretch. And that stretch lasted… When did Dr. Dolittle come out? I think his funk really did last until then. I don’t know what started the funk, but it lasted a chunk of time, and that was in the belly of the funk, and he was just really sad and low-energy and I basically did the scene without him there.

“In the belly of the funk.” Awesome turn of phrase!

Pinchot also has harsh words for Bette Midler. According to Pinchot, she was a total bee-yotch to director Hugh Miller on the set of The First Wives Club:

AVC: So Hugh Wilson would be the director in question?

BP: Yes, because Bette Midler was such a bitch to him. While he was directing, she would be rolling her eyes, pantomiming with her favorite actors, and she made it very difficult. And he was at his wit’s end. He was actually a very nice man, but she was very unkind to him on that movie. Am I not supposed to say these things? Because it is The Onion after all, the highest form of journalism. [Laughs.]

However, the most brutal takedown of all is that of Denzel Washington, who Pinchot basically describes as an evil person.

The set of Courage Under Fire was apparently an awful place to work, because Denzel was on a rampage:

That was a low point, because Denzel Washington was behind the incredibly cowardly bullshit of “This is my character, not me.” He was really abusive to me and everybody on that movie, and his official explanation was that his character didn’t like me, but it was a dreadful experience. I spent my salary on time with my shrink just for helping me get through it, and what that led to was the very next big movie that I did. I should have said to the producers, “You get that guy in line, or I’m out of here.” Life’s too short.


Denzel Washington cured me forever of thinking that there is any amount of money or anything that could ever, ever make it okay to be abused. The script supervisor on that movie said it’s like watching somebody kick a puppy. He was so vile. And after that, I just would never endure it again.

Now — let’s be fair here — Bronson Pinchot is no angel himself.

As this blog evocatively recalls, he groped all the shady ladies who were on “The Surreal Life” with him. Pretty gross behavior, if you ask me…

He’s a Freemason. Highly suspicious.

We’ll close with some happy news.

I’m pleased to report that Pinchot and his PF co-star, Mark Linn-Baker, are still homies. Bronson aims at lots of stars with his shit-talk cannon, but Cousin Larry is OK by him:

I discovered my inner physical comic there, because I felt that the writing was weak. I mean, I received my training in Shakespeare, Shaw, and Beckett, and all of a sudden I’m doing this stuff, like… What the hell is this about? Who cares? And so I put all my energy into coming up with physical business, and all of a sudden I was a physical comic, and that is exactly how it Perfect Strangers happened. I’d always admired physical comics, but I didn’t think there was that much going on. The character wasn’t stupid, but you’d look at the script and say, “What is this about?” So I made my own life up, and I had a lot of fun doing that with Mark Linn-Baker, because he loved all that stuff, too.


Our curve was that we started out bickering about everything because we were being territorial, and then we realized over the course of time that we very dearly did care about each other, and that we did dearly love each other, and that was interesting. We eventually had a deep bond.

Cue the studio audience: “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!”

Further required reading/watching: The entire A/V club interview, which also features Pinchot’s comments on Quentin Tarantino, Scorsese and Janet Jones, and his story about the key to making Mischa Barton cry (spoiler: make fun of her fat ass).

Once you’re done with that, there’s a nice post from Uncoached featuring some of Pinchot’s memorable moments on film.

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

One Response to Balki Bartokomous Blasts Cruise, Denzel, Midler

  1. Rick Boyer says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

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