Michael Berryman needs no introduction. He has been featured in countless movies, and known for such films as The Hills Have Eyes, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and even made appearances on shows such as Star Trek and the X-Files. From his work as a character actor, to his endless excitement for all forms of genre filmmaking, he has secured his place in cinema history.
CGMagazine had the chance to talk to him, discuss all things horror, and go into what made his career so extraordinary. Looking back at such a legacy is not an easy thing to do, but Berryman gives a candid take on cinema history few actors can.
CGMagazine: Out of curiosity, did you see the Hills Have Eyes remake? and if so, what did you think?
Michael Berryman: Well I saw it with Wes Craven and Peter Locke at the World Premiere in Los Angeles. It was a red carpet event and really a lot of fun. It was visually good, but I think they missed the mark because when people get killed, and you don’t care, it basically makes the movie really weak. So it was visually good, and I think that [director Alexandre Aja] will mature as a storyteller, but when you don’t have a good enough story, and you don’t know anything about the characters except that they’re all dysfunctional, it’s hard to side with them.
CGMagazine: So thumbs down from you.
Michael Berryman: Yeah, I’ll give a C.
CGMagazine: As an actor how do you get inside the mind of a monster?
Michael Berryman: If you’re doing prosthetics, the make-up helps a lot because it’s so irritating and it’s all over you and on you and that kind of helps. I’ve been an artist all my life as well as an introspective person and a people watcher, so I just make it real…I go there. I’m not so method that in between takes and such I’m like, “Don’t talk to me.” (Laughs)
CGMagazine: At what part in your career did producers and directors start seeking you out for parts?
Michael Berryman: From the very first one. I was discovered by George Pal who came into my store in Venice Beach and said “You must be in my movie.”
CGMagazine: What’s the toughest audition you’ve ever had?
Michael Berryman: Oh, I don’t know…probably the X-Files is the one I wanted more than anything, for personal reasons. It was a heroic role where first everybody thinks he’s the killer, and I had to convince Chris Carter that I was the guy he needed. So we ran the lines, and as I left he told me not to tell the other 100 guys waiting that I had the part.
CGMagazine: Has there ever been a particular role that you wanted that you didn’t end up getting?
Michael Berryman: Yes, I wanted to play the part Ron Perlman got in the TV series Beauty and the Beast. I wanted to be the Beast for the obvious reasons that the character is misunderstood and the monster gets the girl for all the right reasons: she sees his heart and what’s more romantic than that. The only role that hasn’t presented itself yet is something I’ll probably write myself – a romantic role, a love story.
CGMagazine: That’s interesting because I was going to ask that if you had the choice between being a leading man or the horror icon you are today, which would you choose?
Michael Berryman: Well, I’m open to both. It depends on how good the script is and how good the director’s vision is good. There are very few limitations to things I wouldn’t do, and they should be apparently obvious.
CGMagazine: Of all the parts you’ve played, all the movies you’ve done, do you have a favourite part or memory?
Michael Berryman: I have many, many favourite memories. My favourite role would be Owen Jarvis on the X-Files, for very personal reasons it was a very liberating role.
CGMagazine: Do you have a wish list of anybody you’d like to work with?
Michael Berryman: Ridley Scott.
CGMagazine: Does he have your number?
Michael Berryman: No, if you have his number though I’ll give you twenty bucks. (Laughs) I’d also like to work with Hugh Laurie and Joss Whedon or any of the Douglases or the Baldwin brothers. I’d love to work with John Goodman; I loved him in Matinee – an absolutely thrilling performance.
CGMagazine: I read somewhere that you started out as a florist and was wondering if you still garden. Is it a hobby of yours?
Michael Berryman: I’m an organic gardener, and I’m a chef; I make a great chili with no beans. I love good food. I’m planet friendly and all that good stuff. I watch the Food channel, and I’ve got the hots for Rachel Ray for all the right reasons.