March 25, 1985
the swishy Serge in Beverly Hills Cop,
but Bronson Pinchot is neither blue nor gay
by Vicki Jo Radovsky
Photos by Stephen Kelley
Pinchot laps up love
from his brothers (Justin is seen far left), sister and mom, not to mention the
"This is like the Jack-in-the-Box of
Indian food," says Bronson Pinchot, nibbling at a forkful of what he calls
"Tandoori McChicken." Lunching at a low-rent ethnic restaurant,
the actor is reminded that at least he didn't have to talk to a clown to order
it. "But you have to talk to a clown," he chuckles, "to get
Pinchot, 25, copped critical raves for his
role as Serge, the snobby, gay art gallery assistant of indeterminate origin in Beverly
Hills Cop. He managed to upstage Eddie Murphy and gain a reputation as
a memorable comic actor in a mere five minutes onscreen.
"It was the smallest role I'd ever
been offered, and technically, I shouldn't have done it," says Pinchot.
"I'd had a nice supporting role in Risky Business [as Tom Cruise's
sidekick] and an OK supporting role in The Flamingo Kid [as Matt Damon's
card-shark pal], and then this . . . nothing.
"I decided if they got to my scene in
the film before the vacation I'd planned, I'd do it. If not, they could
screw themselves because it was no part and no money. Three days before I
left, they called."
The role was originally an effeminate
American with only one line, but when Cop director Martin Brest saw
Pinchot's improvisational prowess, he told him to wing it.
The actor created the accent from "a
compilation of a lot of Israelis. I deliberately scrambled it up as a sort
of statement about Beverly Hills, because the employees in those shops are so
intimidating, and you can't tell where they come from."
Pinchot never dreamed that Serge would
bring such a surge of success. "I was taken completely by
surprise," he says. "Who would expect all this from one lousy
scene in a movie?"
Who would expect all this from a kid whose
family was so poor that, Pinchot quips, "I was born on a pile of
newspapers"? He was born to Russian / Italian parents in New York
City, and at age 2, moved to Pasadena, Calif., with his family. Upon their
arrival, his parents split up. "My mother didn't even know how to
write a check," says Pinchot. "But by sheer will she pulled us
four little kids together and transformed what could have been a lousy
experience into something special. She decided we were gonna have a great
"I did have a wonderful
childhood," he adds, "but I was petrified of someone pointing at me
and saying I was poor or fat, which I was."
Pinchot put all his energy into academics
and became a straight-A student. He won a scholarship to Yale, where he
appeared in his first play, and eventually graduated magna cum laude in
He turned pro four years ago, -- singing
medieval tunes at the summer Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Conn.
Moving to New York in 1982, Pinchot appeared in several theatrical
productions. His portrayal of a nerd in the 1982 Off Broadway musical Poor
Little Lambs brought him to the attention of the producer and director who
cast him in his first film, Risky Business.
Future films are in the offing.
Pinchot will appear in Martin Scorsese's upcoming After Hours and star as
a horny 17-year-old who's seduced by a Penthouse Pet in the teen sexploitation
film Hot Resort, due out this winter. [Editor's note - Hot
Resort was filmed before Beverly Hills Cop. Chances are
Bronson's success made the producers of Hot Resort plan to release the
film again in hopes of making some money from it.]
"I had to do it to vindicate my
adolescence," he says. "When I was that age I was such a
wallflower. The film's aimed at kids who wouldn't beaten me up at
Pinchot also plays lawyer Dennis Kemper on
the new NBC sitcom, Sara. "It's being touted as The Mary
Tyler Moore Show of the 80's, and I play a gay Gavin MacLeod," he
jokes. "Actually, he a straight gay person rather than a stereotype
doing macrame, a totally adjusted guy -- who likes to go to bed with men."
Although it's his second homosexual role,
Pinchot's not worried about gay typecasting. "If I play a gay
character, I've got to make people believe I'm gay and happy about it.
Directors looking at how an actor works aren't taken in."
These days, the only thing Pinchot isn't
happy about is his recently broken engagement to an actress whose name he won't
reveal. "The low point of my adult life was getting back my
engagement ring in a little manila envelope under the windshield wiper of my car
with a note that said, 'I'd like my Bloomingdale's card back.' She's gonna
die when she reads this," he says with a sad smile, "but she deserves
"I've just now gotten to the point
where I even feel confident enough to put myself on the line again. I was
standing in a phone booth the other day and there was a mirror next to me.
I looked at myself and said, 'I don't like the shirt you're wearing, but you're
gonna be OK.'"