Below, you'll see a preview of Bernie's interview. Click here to read the whole thing. (Including answers to these questions, and more: Have you ever killed a man? Best thing you'll get to say? Worst thing you'll have to say? What color is your hair?)
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Center City Philadelphia, the son of a truck driver and opera singer. Sports took up most of my life as a kid (and 8-bit Nintendo, obviously) but I always found time to pursue acting as well. Eventually I went to Amherst College where I graduated with a degree in Theatre and Dance—the dance part was not earned, it was a combined department, but that combination has gotten me a few auditions over the years; let’s keep that secret! After many twists and turns in the biz, I returned to school to get my MFA in Acting from Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House. These days I live in New York City where I mostly appear on TV, usually in situations where I die; it’s great fun for everybody but the blood spatter artist—ask me about it sometime!
I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a classical actor, but I did begin performing Shakespeare in first grade, memorizing monologues and saying them in front of my school in a monthly poetry competition, so the roots are deep. Still, I do fall in love with Shakespeare once a day, so if you’d like to think of me as a “Shakespearean actor,” I’m happy to play along!
Why are you traveling all the way from NYC to do Macbeth at OSF?
There are way too many reasons to list! I’ll try my best! Macbeth is fascinating, haunting, an almost religious challenge! Lara Mielcarek (who is playing Lady Macbeth) mentioned taking it on before our final curtain call for Much Ado About Nothing last year. It was the perfect time to suggest it, because I’m riding high in those moments, and thinking, “Why not?! Plays are so fun and easy, right?!” But even after the euphoria passed, the witchcraft of the suggestion remained. I’ve always felt that Macbeth infects its audience: the occult, the prophecies, hallucinations, all the dream imagery, we can’t help but have deep subconscious attachments to these ingredients. And while the subconscious was not yet coined in psychology, the play operates in those areas. Well, Lara’s suggestion did the exact same thing; it infected me, and made me want to do Macbeth more than I think I have a capacity to rationally explain! Can you tell?
Maybe I should have gone with the easy answer: it’s a great play, it’s a great role, and I get to do it with people I love.
Continue the interview here.