Made Moments: Talking With Bronson Pinchot about ‘Beverly Hills Cop’

It’s not often that you get to meet your heroes…

For the first time ever the Beverly Hills Cop Movie Collection has made it to Blu-Ray courtesy of our friends at Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment.

In case you need a refresher, the Beverly Hills Cop trilogy is the story of one Axel Foley; a Detroit police officer who finds himself investing gate crime more often in Beverly Hills then his home of Detroit.  He’s gotten justice for his friends, stopped international drug dealers, counterfeiters and weapons smugglers with his trademark laugh and a smile on his face.

Vaulting Eddie Murphy into international superstardom, these films and their subsequent sequels not only did well at the Box Office but over the years through various forms of home video have become some of the more beloved action comedies of the 1980’s and 90’s with there even being talk of a Beverly Hills Cop 4 in development over at the Netflix.

Now before we get your hopes up, no, we didn’t get to talk to Eddie; we did better than that talking to someone whose career was made pretty much right alongside Eddie’s in the first film.

Back in 1984, Bronson Pinchot was just coming off Risky Business still auditioning and trying to find his place on the Hollywood landscape.  Little did he know that this small, yet scene stealing role as Serge we be his big break leading up to 1986 as the loveable Balki Bartokomous in the sitcom Perfect Strangers that would lead him down a road to work with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Tony Scott, Quentin Tarantino & John Landis in film and make appearances on hit TV shows like NCIS, Ray Donovan & Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Coming on to the phone in an absolute high octane burst of energy he compliments me after two seconds if only because he was coming off of a dull interview right before, so of course I am as pleased as absolute punch in getting to talk with him.  This was still pretty early on in his on screen acting career so I was obviously fascinated on what he’d have to say about getting a job like this and he had this to say…

It was only about my 3rd feature and I had done ‘Risky Business’ in which there had been these long series of scenes where the different girls (prostitutes) just kept coming up to Tom Cruise’s house and introducing themselves and it just wasn’t working so the producer Jon Avnet came over to me and said that he just wanted to redo it and have my improvise as they all come through the door and I did exactly that he loved it but I said let me get this where it needs to be and they we’re like “No, it’s perfect, leave it” and that was all completely improvised.  Then Garry Marshall who I worked with on ‘The Flamingo Kid’ saw a rough cut of it and asked me flat out if I had improvised that sceneI over course said yes and that’s basically how I got that job.  Then I was going a scene with Janet Jones in ‘The Flamingo Kid’ but she had been sent home early and they were missing a little piece that they needed and they just told me to improvise and fill the scene for them and it made it into the movie.  Then Marge Simpkin who was the casting director on ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ saw that from ‘The Flamingo Kid’ and they called me in because they knew I was improvising and they liked and had just said flat out that we have a part in ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ that just isn’t quite there yet and asked if I’d like to do something.  Again obviously I said ‘I’d Try’ and they sent over the script but there was just nothing there.  Serge was originally this American character with no dimension to him, so I took it and just walked around with it trying to see what I could come up with. 

There was this crummy youth exploitation film that I had done before all of this, the movie was terrible but I got to shoot it in the Caribbean and I had this makeup lady who I worked with on it and she always wore sunglasses while doing my makeup and I would always ask her “How can you even tell what you’re doing?  You’ve got sunglasses on” and she would just brush my hand away with the limp arms saying “Don’t be stupid, I know what I’m doing” (in Serge voice)I just decided to channel her and while she wasn’t very friendly I knew Serge needed to be friendly and warm so that likeable side was me but the rest was my makeup lady Lily and I did that for Marty Brest our director and he just loved it.

But as it happens in this business, things kept changing and I was getting worried but I was on a time crunch because I was going with my fiancé to Florence and I had said there’s only so long I can wait, it’s a nice one day role but I can’t cancel my trip so we shot everything the day before I left on my trip.  Of course while we were away I was stressing that I went over the top with it and just hoped that they cut it.

Smash cut to months later, I was back in Hollywood, I had broken up with my fiancé and I was BEYOND broke but every once in a while people would come up to me and just say things like “I’m working on the score for ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ and I think  you’re going to make a big splash with this.  Of course I was dumbfounded, then I got the music video for ‘Neutron Dance’ for the movie where they initially wanted me to play Serge but at the last minute they changed it to avoid spoiling the character and I was just this goofy bellboy and even on the set of the video; The Pointer Sisters who had seen a rough cut came up to me and told me to keep my feet on the ground because I was going to be a star…”WHAT?” I said, from this?

They were right about it turning me into a celebrity but it was just impossible to keep my feet on the ground because I was this 25 year old kid that people were going crazy for and really no one is every ready for that.  I mean really it was just Lily’s exotic nature and my warmth mixed up together and for some reason it really clicked.

It’s a surreal story to be sure because whenever you are working on a film or really anything creative you never know what will actually work, but he basically had this moment where he more or less stealing a scene from someone like Eddie Murphy who was at the height of his comedic powers at the time.  Looking back on it, he had this to say…

Oh it was a life lesson to be sure because you just never know…

The Beverly Hills Cop 3 Movie Collection is available on Blu-Ray from all major retailers now…

 

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Dave Voigt

David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf, to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema. Having launched his own home; In The Seats (intheseats.ca) back in 2015 for all the latest and greatest movie reviews and interviews he’s one of the leading voices in the film criticism scene in Toronto, and eventually the world. David is the Entertainment Editor for Addicted Magazine.

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