What the Hell Happened to Tom Berenger?
Tom Berenger is an Oscar nominee and a Golden Globe winner. He’s done action, drama and comedy. He’s been the leading man and a supporting actor. He’s worked with directors like Christopher Nolan, Oliver Stone and Ridley Scott. And yet, after nearly four decades in Hollywood, Berenger has never been a major movie star.
What the hell happened?
Berenger first appeared on the soap opera One Life to Live.
From 1975 – 1976, Berenger played law school dropout Tim Siegel. Berenger was the third actor to play this role on the show. The part was originated by Bill Fowler in 1969. From 1970-1971, he was played by William Cox. Then in 1975, Berenger played Siegel as he returns from law school. After dropping out of law school, Tim became a construction worker and fell in love with a nun.
Jenny, the nun, left the church and the couple got engaged. This outraged Jenny’s cousin Vince who couldn’t stand the thought of Jenny leaving the church. So he gets into a fist fight with Tim which exacerbates a latent brain aneurysm! As Tim is dying, Jenny arranges a hasty wedding in his hospital room. Shortly after the wedding, Tim dies!
Oh man, do I wish I had a clip for this! Sadly, I do not.
In 1977, Berenger made his movie debut in the independent comedy, Rush It.
The movie was about New York City bike messengers who fall in love. It co-starred Jill Eikenberry and John Heard.
Rush It is one of those movies that has become a trivia question. It’s Berenger’s first movie and that’s about the only reason anyone even remembers it.
Berenger had a bit part in the 1977 horror movie, The Sentinel.
The movie is about a young woman who moves into an apartment building after attempting suicide. Her only neighbor is a blind priest, but she hears strange noises. Eventually it is revealed that the building is a gateway to hell and the old blind priest is the only thing keeping evil at bay.
The movie ends with one of those teasers where a new couple considers moving into the apartment building. Berenger and Star Trek’s Nan Visitor play the couple. The star-studded cast includes Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, Burgess Meredith, Beverly D’Angelo, Ava Gardner, José Ferrer, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken and Jeff Goldblum.
Later that year, Berenger had a more substantial role opposite Diane Keaton in the drama, Looking For Mr. Goodbar.
The movie was based on Judith Rossner’s novel of the same name which was in turn based on a true story of a school teacher who was *spoilers* brutally murdered. Keaton played the school teacher who spends her nights at bars picking up men for casual sex and drugs. She has relationships with men played by Richard Gere, LaVar Burton and Berenger who looks way too innocent to brutally murder a school teacher…
Keaton was a long way from Annie Hall which was released the same year! Reviews were mostly positive and the movie was a hit at the box office. Berenger’s role may have been small, but it made an impression.
In 1978, Berenger starred in the Canadian-produced World War II drama, In Praise of Older Women.
The movie was set in Hungary during and after World War II. Berenger played a young man who procures local girls for the occupying G.I.’s. He starts a relationship with a married woman in her thirties played by Karen Black. She teaches him about love and romance. He carries her lessons on to other relationships with mature women.
In Praise of Older Women was the very first movie screened by the Toronto Film Festival.
Next: Eddie and the Cruisers
Posted on November 4, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged inception, Major League, platoon, Sliver, sniper, The Big Chill, The Substitute, training day. Bookmark the permalink. 104 Comments.