With over 100 film, television and theater credits to his name, it is rather surprising to hear Tom Berenger say he is not particularly impressed with most of his work.
Pressed to name his favorite film, Tom finally named, in a 1996 interview, Betrayed, where he played a racist farmer who threatened Debra Winger. The film explored a sensitive topic which had viewers shifting uncomfortably in their seats and many critics not knowing exactly how to review it…good or bad. Tom is quoted as saying about the film, “It was exactly what it was meant to be.”
Born in Chicago on May 31, 1949 as Thomas Michael Moore, Tom excelled in sports as well as academics. He is fluent in Spanish and Italian as well as being a serious collector and hobby-historian of American History. He attended the University of Missouri as a journalism major, but when he was cast in a stage production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? his career path was changed forever.
Tom did stints in local regional theatre repertory before coming to New York City in the mid 70’s where he studied acting. One of his first big roles on stage was an adaptation of Tennessee William’s The Rose Tattoo at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut. He also toured with the Milwaukee Repertory Company through Japan in A Streetcar Named Desire. His film debut was as the psychotic pretty boy in Looking For Mr. Goodbar, which starred Diane Keaton. Soap fans will remember Tom as the second Timmy Siegal on One Life To Live.
From that point on, Tom gained notice and continued appearing in nearly one film or TV movie every year up until the present. Fans who came to expect the strong, masculine, ladies’ man roles such as Sam in The Big Chill (1983), were stunned and enthusiastic at Berenger’s Oscar nominated performance of sociopath Sergeant Barnes in Platoon (1986). Films such as Major League, Last Rites, Someone to Watch Over Me and Shoot to Kill cemented Tom’s box office appeal in the 80’s and proved his versatile acting chops.
Tom continued to take on unpredictable roles, crossing over between film and television with ease with cameos as Don the plumber in the last 2 episodes of the television series Cheers in which he received an Emmy nomination. Jumping back to film, he did a favor for his friend, director Oliver Stone, by appearing briefly as a recruitment officer in Born on The Fourth of July.
Not one to limit himself to acting, Tom stepped into producing and writing in 1995 with the TNT movie Avenging Angel as a way to begin making pictures that he believed needed to be told. He went on to produce and star in the 1997 Emmy award winning TNT television mini-series Rough Riders, which depicted Teddy Roosevelt and his army during the Spanish-American War. It scored high with viewers and became the highest rated mini-series in cable TV history.
Tom continues to appear in films for both television and film, most notably his critically acclaimed and high-rated portrayal of Bear Bryant in ESPN’s made for television movie, The Junction Boys . His 2003 USA television series Peacemakers was a fan favorite as well as his high rated mini-series, DreamWork’s’ Into the West in 2005 and Steven King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King in 2006. In 2007 he starred for two seasons in the ABC television hit, October Road. In 2010 Tom played in the blockbuster sci-fi thriller, Inception.
In 2012, Tom earned a much deserved Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series or Movie as Uncle Jim Vance in Hatfields and McCoys.