Tom Berenger


Actor
Tom Berenger

About

Also Known As
Thomas Michael Moore
Birth Place
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Born
May 31, 1949

Biography

Having first established himself in brooding, aggressive roles, actor Tom Berenger first came to the public's attention as the self-effacing Tom Selleck-like television star in Lawrence Kasdan's iconic drama, "The Big Chill" (1983). But it was his hard-edged turn as the Vietnam War-scarred Sergeant Barnes in "Platoon" (1986) that turned the relatively unknown actor into a bona fide star...

Family & Companions

Barbara Berenger
Wife
Married c. 1976; divorced February 1984.
Lisa Williams
Wife
Realtor. Married in July 1986; separated; filed for divorce in June 1997; divorced.
Patricia Alvaran
Wife
Makeup artist. Married on January 23, 1998.

Biography

Having first established himself in brooding, aggressive roles, actor Tom Berenger first came to the public's attention as the self-effacing Tom Selleck-like television star in Lawrence Kasdan's iconic drama, "The Big Chill" (1983). But it was his hard-edged turn as the Vietnam War-scarred Sergeant Barnes in "Platoon" (1986) that turned the relatively unknown actor into a bona fide star. Berenger next emerged in the unlikeliest of places, playing a professional baseball player in the surprise hit comedy "Major League" (1989), a role he reprised five years later in the sequel. From there, he specialized in playing historical figures like Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet in "Gettysburg" (1993) and Theodore Roosevelt in "Rough Riders" (TNT, 1997), while appearing regularly in genre films like "Sniper" (1993) and its two sequels. Whether occasionally popping up in more high-profile movies like "Training Day" (2001) and "Inception" (2010), co-starring on his first regular primetime series "October Road" (ABC, 2007-08), or winning an Emmy for his work in the acclaimed miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys" (History, 2012), Berenger seemed content playing a wide array of villains and antiheroes in non-theatrical releases.

Born on May 31, 1950 in Chicago, IL, Berenger was raised in a working class home headed by a father who worked as a printer for The Chicago Sun-Times. After graduating Rich East High School in 1967, he attended the University of Missouri to study journalism, only to discover acting after trying out for a school play on a bet. Berenger made his debut in a college production of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?" before moving on to regional theater following graduation. He soon relocated to New York City, where he studied with Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof at HB Studio while working in off-Broadway productions like "End as a Man" (1975) for the Circle Repertory Company and "The Rose Tattoo" (1977) at the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT. Making his screen debut, Berenger spent a year portraying Tim Siegel on the daytime soap "Once Life to Live" (ABC, 1968-2012) before landing a small role in the biopic about a young John F. Kennedy (Paul Rudd) in "Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye" (NBC, 1977).

Following his feature debut in "The Sentinel" (1977), Berenger landed a significant role as Gary Cooper White, the psychopathic killer of "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" (1977), who threatens a young teacher (Diane Keaton) looking for sexual excitement outside of her usually mundane existence. He next had his first starring role in the erotic drama, "In Praise of Older Women" (1978), which cast him in the underdeveloped role of a Hungarian stud recalling two decades' worth of sexual conquests. Berenger fared better as the young Butch Cassidy in Richard Lester's "Butch and Sundance: The Early Years" (1979) while returning to the small screen to take the leading role of a street tough-turned-prison boxer in the two-part miniseries "Flesh & Blood" (CBS, 1979). After a return to the stage to play Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1981) at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Berenger played a mercenary soldier opposite Christopher Walken in "The Dogs of War" (1981). Two years later, the actor gained his first widespread attention for his standout performance as an insecure television star in the ensemble drama "The Big Chill" (1983), a film that marked similar breakthroughs for Glenn Close, William Hurt and Jeff Goldblum.

Hot on the heels of "The Big Chill," Berenger earned a cult following with "Eddie and the Cruisers" (1983), playing the former piano player and lyricist for the leader of the titular band (Michael Pare), whose alleged death in a car accident comes into question a few years later. He was underutilized as a smarmy strip club owner in the derided crime thriller "Fear City" (1984), while in "Rustler's Rhapsody" (1985) he tried to revive the gentle singing cowboy from 1940s Hollywood Westerns, only to have the film fall off the radar and remain forgotten for the rest of his career. But Berenger hit his stride and became a star with his next film, "Platoon" (1986), director Oliver Stone's searing and realistic look at the Vietnam War as seen from the eyes of the average infantryman. Berenger played Staff Sgt. Barnes, a battle-scarred leader of a platoon who will stop at nothing to ensure his authority, even if it means killing a rival sergeant (Willem Dafoe) while trying to corrupt a young recruit (Charlie Sheen). With his face masked by prosthetic scar tissue, Berenger delivered perhaps the finest performance of his career, earning numerous award nominations, including one for Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards.

Building off that triumphant performance, Berenger starred opposite Mimi Rogers in the Ridley Scott thriller "Someone to Watch Over Me" (1987), before proving both forceful and unpredictable as the vulnerable macho white supremacist leader in "Betrayed" (1988). As veteran catcher Jake Taylor, whose damaged knees signal the end of his career, Berenger was the heart and soul of the hit baseball comedy "Major League" (1989), thanks in large part to his comedic chemistry with Charlie Sheen and romantic chemistry with Rene Russo. Following a small role in Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July" (1989), he projected the smoldering charisma of a young Brando as the half-breed Cheyenne mercenary who goes native in Hector Babenco's "At Play in the Fields of the Lord" (1991), adapted from Peter Matthiessen's 1965 novel. He next delivered a solid portrayal of Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet in "Gettysburg" (1993), while appearing in several Hollywood genre films like "Sniper" (1993) and "Sliver" (1993), the former of which fizzled at the box office, while the latter was panned by most critics.

Around this time, Berenger began a short-lived recurring role during the waning days of the hit sitcom, "Cheers" (NBC, 1982-1993), playing the plumber husband-to-be of bar manager Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley). His performance earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Following a reprisal for Jake Taylor for the woeful sequel "Major League II" (1994), Berenger appeared in a series of misfires like "Chasers" (1994), "Avenging Angel" (1995) and "An Occasional Hell" (1996), which he also executive produced, before playing a mercenary-turned-teacher in "The Substitute" (1996). He next turned in a fine portrayal of Theodore Roosevelt in the original made-for-cable movie, "Rough Riders" (TNT, 1997), which he followed with a supporting role in Robert Altman's meandering adaptation of John Grisham's "The Gingerbread Man" (1998). Berenger starred in "One Man's Hero" (1998), the story of a group of Irish immigrants who fled to Mexico and fought for their adopted country as the St. Patrick Brigade in the Mexican-American War. Meanwhile, he continued appearing in low-quality genre fare like "Enemy of My Enemy" (1999), "Cutaway" (2000) and "Cruel and Unusual" (2001), which did nothing but help dim memories of strong performances like in "Platoon."

Though only onscreen for a few minutes, Berenger delivered a memorable turn as a powerful lawyer in the District Attorney's office who runs cover for a corrupt cop (Denzel Washington) in "Training Day" (2001). He reprised his role from the theatrically released "Sniper" for the direct-to-DVD release, "Sniper 2" (2003) and "Sniper 3" (2004), which he followed with a notable guest appearance on "Third Watch" (NBC, 1999-2005) and a supporting role among an all star cast for Steven Spielberg's epic 12-hour miniseries, "Into the West" (TNT, 2005). For his first regular series role, Berenger played the gruff, but ultimately kindhearted father of an accomplished writer (Bryan Greenberg) who returns home after 10-year sojourn on the short-lived "October Road" (ABC, 2007-08). Berenger returned to features with several small movies like the direct-to-DVD releases "Stiletto" (2008) and "Smokin' Aces 2: Assassin's Ball" (2010) and low budget indies "Charlie Valentine" (2009) and "Breaking Point" (2009). He had his first taste of a major Hollywood film in a long time with "Inception" (2010), director Christopher Nolan's blockbuster psychological thriller inspired by people's experiences with lucid dreaming. Following a small turn as the nameless warden in the Dwayne Johnson actioner "Faster" (2010), Berenger shined in a standout performance as Jim Vance in the acclaimed miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys" (History, 2012), which brought huge ratings to the cable network and earned praise from all corners. But most importantly for the actor, it earned him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie in 2012.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Sniper: Legacy (2014)
Lonesome Dove Church (2014)
Bad Country (2014)
Reach Me (2014)
Brake (2012)
Hatfields & McCoys (2012)
Cocaine: History Between the Lines (2011)
Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball (2010)
Inception (2010)
Faster (2010)
Stiletto (2009)
Silent Venom (2009)
Breaking Point (2009)
Charlie Valentine (2009)
Desperate Hours: An Amber Alert (2008)
Arthur Hailey's Detective (2006)
Sniper 3 (2004)
Takedown (2004)
Mccoy Rollins
True Blue (2002)
Detective Rem Macy
D-Tox (2002)
Sniper 2 (2002)
Training Day (2001)
Cutaway (2000)
One Man's Hero (1999)
John Riley
Diplomatic Siege (1999)
General Buck Swain
In the Company of Spies (1999)
Kevin Jefferson
A Murder of Crows (1999)
The Gingerbread Man (1998)
Pete Randle
An Occasional Hell (1996)
The Substitute (1996)
Body Language (1995)
Gavin St Clair
The Avenging Angel (1995)
Last of the Dogmen (1995)
Louis Gates
Major League II (1994)
Chasers (1994)
Rock Reilly
Gettysburg Journal (1993)
Gettysburg (1993)
Sliver (1993)
Sniper (1993)
Shattered (1991)
At Play In The Fields Of The Lord (1991)
Love At Large (1990)
Harry Dobbs
The Field (1990)
The American
Major League (1989)
Born On The Fourth Of July (1989)
Last Rites (1988)
Betrayed (1988)
Shoot To Kill (1988)
Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam (1987)
Narrator
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)
Platoon (1986)
Rustler's Rhapsody (1985)
Fear City (1985)
The Big Chill (1983)
Oltre la Porta (1982)
Matthew Jackson
The Dogs Of War (1980)
Drew
In Praise of Older Women (1979)
Andras Vayda
Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (1979)
The Sentinel (1977)
Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye (1977)
Billy Sutton
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)
Gary

Producer (Feature Film)

An Occasional Hell (1996)
Executive Producer

Cast (Special)

The Great American History Quiz: America at War (2001)
American Heritage Presents: The Lincoln Assassination (1995)
Narration

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Johnson County War (2002)
The Junction Boys (2002)
Shadow of Doubt (1998)
Rough Riders (1997)
If Tomorrow Comes (1986)
Flesh And Blood (1979)
Bobby Fallon

Producer (TV Mini-Series)

Rough Riders (1997)
Producer

Life Events

1970

Acting debut in a college production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

1975

Acted in Circle Repertory's "End As a Man" (1975) and the Long Wharf's "The Rose Tattoo" (1977), among other stage productions

1975

Played Timmie Siegal on ABC daytime soap "One Life To Live"

1977

Film acting debut, "The Sentinel"

1977

Portrayed a psychotic killer on the prowl in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar"

1977

Made TV-movie debut in "Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye" (NBC)

1981

Returned to the stage to play Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Milwaukee Rep

1983

Acted the part of Frank 'Word Man' Ridgeway in "Eddie and the Cruisers"

1983

Delivered breakthrough role as Sam, the handsome but insecure TV star in Lawrence Kasdan's "The Big Chill"

1986

Earned an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his role in Oliver Stone's "Platoon"

1987

Starred opposite Mimi Rogers in "Someone to Watch Over Me"

1988

Played white supremacist Gary Simmons in Costa-Gavras' "Betrayed"

1988

His stubborn mountain guide teamed up with Sidney Poitier's big-city cop in "Shoot to Kill"

1988

Appeared opposite Mary McDonnell in the Long Wharf production of "National Anthems"

1989

Portrayed veteran catcher Jake Taylor in baseball comedy "Major League"

1989

Reunited with Stone for small role in "Born on the Fourth of July"

1993

Stole Kirstie Alley's heart on the final two episodes of long-running NBC sitcom "Cheers"; Alley had also acted with him in "Shoot to Kill"

1993

Turned in solid portrayal as Confederate General James Longstreet in Turner Pictures epic "Gettysburg"

1994

Reprised Jake Taylor role for "Major League II"

1995

Co-produced and starred in TNT movie "The Avenging Angel"

1996

Played mercenary-turned-substitute teacher in "The Substitute"

1997

Produced and starred as Teddy Roosevelt in TNT miniseries "Rough Riders"

1998

Portrayed Pete Randle in Robert Altman's "The Gingerbread Man"

1998

Starred in "One Man's Hero" as Tom Riley, a member of the St Patrick Brigade, a group of Irish immigrants who fled to Mexico and fought for their adopted country in Mexican-American War

2001

Landed lead role in drama thriller "Watchtower"

2001

Acted opposite Denzel Washington in "Training Day"

2003

Cast in a recurring role on USA Network's "Peacemakers"

2007

Cast as The Commander on the ABC drama "October Road"

2010

Co-starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in the Christopher Nolan-directed sci-fi thriller "Inception"

2010

Played supporting role opposite Dwayne Johnson in the action drama "Faster"

2012

Co-starred with Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton in The History Channel miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys"

Photo Collections

The Big Chill - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for The Big Chill (1983), starring Kevin Kline, JoBeth Williams, William Hurt, Glenn Close, and Jeff Goldblum. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Big Chill, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) Cold World Out There Together after the funeral of a college friend, Mary Kay Place is a lawyer, Jeff Goldblum a writer, Tom Berenger a TV actor, Kevin Kline and Glenn Close their hosts, Jobeth Williams and druggie William Hurt their pals, in Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill, 1983.
Big Chill, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) I'm Still Evolving Arising the morning after the funeral of their college friend, Jobeth Williams and Tom Berenger go shopping, Glenn Close and Mary Kay Place sort clothes, and William Hurt, as recreational drug enthusiast Nick, finds one of them new-fangled video cameras, in Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill, 1983.
Big Chill, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) I Told Him He Was Wasting His Life Rolling Stones' music from the church to the grave of their suicide-victim friend, mourners William Hurt and Mary Kay Place, Jeff Goldblum and Tom Berenger with Meg Tilly, Jobeth Williams with husband Don Galloway, who's not one of the crowd, early in Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill, 1983.
Big Chill, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) This Is One Of Those Times After the music-driven opening in which all learn of the death by suicide of a college friend, gathering for the funeral are Kevin Kline, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum, Meg Tilly, Glenn Close, Mary Kay Place, Jobeth Williams, James Gillis the preacher, in Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill, 1983.
Big Chill, The (1983) -- (Movie Clip) Ain't Too Proud To Beg Dining the evening after the funeral of suicide victim friend Alex, friends (Glenn Close, Jobeth Williams, Tom Berenger, Mary Kay Place, Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Meg Tilly) do the dishes to a Temptations' song, a popular scene from Lawerene Kasdan's The Big Chill, 1983.

Trailer

Family

Allison Berenger
Daughter
Born c. 1977; mother, Barbara Berenger.
Patrick Berenger
Son
Born c. 1978; mother, Barbara Berenger.
Chelsea Berenger
Daughter
Born in 1986; mother, Lisa Williams.
Chloe Berenger
Daughter
Born in July 1988; mother, Lisa Williams.

Companions

Barbara Berenger
Wife
Married c. 1976; divorced February 1984.
Lisa Williams
Wife
Realtor. Married in July 1986; separated; filed for divorce in June 1997; divorced.
Patricia Alvaran
Wife
Makeup artist. Married on January 23, 1998.

Bibliography