Yes another exclusive. It's my great pleasure to introduce Mark Bernier
! Now to the interview!
How did you get into this acting gig?
"I missed the last two questions on the Brain Surgeon's Final and that left me no choice" Actually, if you're asking me about "How'd I get into acting?" Well and I'm not speaking for anyone else, but there was something which drove me to this art form from a very early age and I've (with the exception of a 15 year hiatus)been doing this pretty much my entire life. Specifically if you're asking(and I think you are)about the gig on David Fincher's Zodiac, I got called in to read for 2 roles. Det 1 and Det 2. I ended up as Det 2. (oh shoot, I now see the question below regarding Zodiac. Sorry I'm going much too fast. I'll slow down... How's that?)
Where would have fans seen you before?
The French Cafe at the corner of Colfax and Riverside in Valley Village. Daily. Oh, Film or TV or Theatre? Of course what am I thinking? You may have seen me in Homicide: Life on the Street on NBC, a Guest Star role. I played the bartender, Ray Davis, who the cops come to to question regarding a certain patron of my bar and in the end I end up fingering the killer. John Waters' film Cecil B. DeMented. I played an Studio Exec at a luncheon for the Maryland Film Commision. Alyssa Witt comes up to me and points a gun in my face, I say "It wasn't my idea. I'm just the Vice President of Creative Affairs!!!" Then Melanie Griffith points a gun at me and says "BAD MOVIES MUST BE AVENGED!!!" to which I say, "NO! PLEASE DON"T SHOOT ME, I DON'T EVEN GO TO THE MOVIES!!!" But she shoots me anyway. Then Cold Case for CBS as Albert Miller the "flasher"(yeah, you got it...never the guy next door...ma...never the guy next door)LAS VEGAS, as the nosy neighbor(ok,...the nosy guy next door)and most recently the Book Shop Owner in Zurich on ALIAS. Actually I was a Spy. Conduit if you will. But the Big One was as Roy Cohn in Angels in America, Parts I&II at AXIS Theatre in Baltimore 1998 a 10 week run. Those I guess would've been the most likely bits of work people may have seen.
David Fincher's Zodiac and my film with Jennifer Fontaine, Ralph Kaechele and Regi Davis directing The Last Time We Were...we garnerd a Silver Remi at WorldFest/Houston and we didn't even know we had screened!!!
How could I possibly have "lowlights". I don't have enough hair left for "lowlights". My mum and dad dying. They'd get such a kick when I'd call them from my trailer on set. I miss them terribly.
How did the Zodiac role come about?
OK. Now you want the rub on this film. Yes. I'd just returned from vacation back to LA and had a call to see the CSTG Dir for this "little" David Fincher film, which at the time was titled "CHRONICLES". I was up for 2 roles. Det 1 and Det 2. I know. I know. But you know what, you never know. You just have to go and do the work. Never concern yourself with the "size" of the role. how many lines. blah blah blah. It's of no consequence. Things can change when you get in the room. Things can change when you're shooting. One is shortchanging themselves if they only go to the call when it looks "good" for them. Furthermore, we are all here to serve the story, in this case David Fincher's story. I can only hope that I've done just that, what David asked of me. This is not hyperbole(my new word. i use it every chance i get). At the end of the day, the frame will never lie. One cannot cheat it, or phone it in and when you're working with one of the Masters(read: Fincher)trust me when I tell you, he never misses "anything" and his work bares this out. So what I'm getting at is this; you've got a "minor" role, but the role is not that minor, because you "deliver" and what you've just delivered completes the picture and it's full and a living, breathing organism. At the end of my first day (and also it should be noted, that everyone and I do mean everyone were absolutely no nonsense about the work and nice to be around. I can't say enough about Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards and Dermot Mulroney and the actor who plays Det 1, Adam Trese. I had an incredible time working with all of them in front of the lens, as well as of course how gracious David was the entire time and his 1st AD Bob Wagner. What gentlemen. What pros!) One of the AD's came up to me at my trailer(my cubby...)after we'd wrapped the first day and said that David wanted to know my "availability"...I think I heard my heart stop. I wanted to make certain that I'd heard her correctly. She repeated. (Slower this time) I said of course I'm available. (No i did not say that i had to ck with my agent...yeah, right)She said that David would like to see more of me in his film and that he'd give me more to do and or say and that he'd be needing me for approximately another 7 days. Truly, I was stunned. And just as she'd said, David true to his word, had me improvise lines and action over the course of those 7 days. I (think anyway)had some very nice moments with Mark Ruffalo. What can I tell you past that? If what I said (additionally) makes his final cut, then that will have really been something. If not, I still did the work. I remained in the "moment" and I served the story. This I do know, from what I witnessed over the course of 8 days, is that David Fincher and Co including his longtime producing partner (who was also very cool to talk to between takes) will have delivered one fine film.
Impressions of the movie/script from what you've seen?
See above for my last comment and as far as the script went. I never saw a complete script. I believe it was on "lockdown". I saw and read the sides for each day as they were delivered to me. The extra bonus for me though, was being able to sit behind David(not right behind)when I was "off" and watch him work and watch "the work". I was there at every chance and watched every single set-up and shot that I could. I got a Master class! It just doesn't get any better than that.
Whats next on your plate?
Thank God, my plate is pretty full. I've finished my first feature script entitled Glass Houses, starring Sal Viscuso, Austin Pendleton, Irwin Keyes, Peter Spellos, Jennifer Fontaine, Regi Davis, Elizabeth J. Martin, Dave Mattey, Roz Cohn and myself. I will direct as well. It's a story,...well you'll have to read it. Again, not the "guy" next door. Jennifer Fontaine and I are producing this with our two companies; Scorpio Rising Films and Jackie Frost Films and we've assembled a great team including Ralph Kaechele, who DP'd our last film as well. If interested, you can find the "media package
" and if there's "someone" out there who wants to talk further, then please email me and we'll take it from there. Yes, we're looking for the "dough".Role models - on screen & off screen.
Austin Pendleton, because even when it "appears" as if he's in a minor role, he still "brings it" with the one or two lines he's been given. Example: Searching for Bobby Fischer. Austin has one line and one line only. "I could have won a pawn."(the entire essence of that film is wrapped up in his one line.) I have many people whose work I love to watch, too many to mention. But one comes to mind as well. Ezra Buzzington. Ever hear of him. This guy "brings it every time too!" Hey Ezra! Hope to do this thing with you one day soon. "Off the screen"? Is there such a thing? Yes and if you meet me at the corner of Colfax and Riverside at Marie et Cie, I'll gladly shoot the breeze with you about things other than the "business". mB
Your career asspirations are?
You asking me for the next "interview" expose from my next film. Seriously.
Any advice for aspiring actors or anyone trying to break into the industry?
Sure. Here it is. If you're doing this. Then do it. Leave yourself no "exit" strategy. If you do, you are certainly doomed and will most definitely use it. My mantra; "They're gonna have to kill me first." I also want to thank the owner of this board for inviting me to the "table". It has been an honour and an extreme pleasure and I am very grateful.
Hope you enjoyed that as much as me Zodiac fans! Stay tuned for more of Mark's exploits and experiences on set soon! Thanks again for the pleasure Mark!