We continue our exclusive interview with the iconic Xander Berkeley in Part II, this time we dive into the sweetness of 1992’s ‘Candyman.’ Welcome back to the Actor Spotlight.
Xander Berkeley as Trevor Lyle in Bernard Rose’s ‘Candyman’- Courtesy of Tristar Pictures.
Recently, we brought you Part I of our interview with legendary actor Xander Berkeley. Talking humble beginnings, parental approval, and his days in theater, the first part of our exclusive interivew was amazing. Now, we move onto some of his most beloved and earliest film work including the immortal Candyman. Before he was Gregory on The Walking Dead, Berkeley was so much more.
So let’s all hit our marks, remember our lines, and do it in one take as we continue our exclusive interview with one of the hardest working actors in the game, Xander Berkeley.
Bernard Rose’s ‘Candyman’ One-sheet- Courtesy of TriStar Pictures
Slasher Savior: With T2 (1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day) you worked with the great James Cameron. He’s a true visionary of the medium. Then a year later, you worked with the amazing Bernard Rose on Candyman (1992). Well, I think you had mentioned filming both around the same time during the Candyman panel. Either way, your work on Candyman is amazing. How did you become involved with the project?
Xander Berkeley: Yeah, I just remember getting the script. Then I went to the audition and I got the part. It was pretty standard.
SS: Sounds easy enough haha. Was there a call back process or were you cast after the initial read? Were there other actors in the running or was it just you?
XB: No, there were other actors up for it. I remember a few actors I had lost parts to before were up for it. But this one was mine. I felt like this (Trevor Lyle) was one of the first characters I was offered an opportunity to play where I could play very close to myself and let the audience project whatever they wanted onto him.
I wasn’t married at the time, so I was a bit of a “run around.” So that side of Lyle, the philandering professor, wasn’t too much of a reach. And the fact he was…well one of the things I learned in theater that I brought to film when I made the transition is you have to put the bag of tricks you learn on stage away. The things you can do with your voice and your body to bring a character to life, even for people all the way in the back of a big theater. You have to put all of those tricks away, because nobody wants to see you do or show anything on film. They want to see you being a person on film.
SS: I imagine it could come off as over-acting and inauthentic. I suppose phony in a way.
XB: Yeah. So one of the things I was excited most about playing a professor who teaches in a big room where you have to hold people’s attention. Like being a good courtroom lawyer, you have to be a good actor in that element. You have to know how to phrase things in a way that’s compelling. You have to be able to use gesture in order to hold people’s attention and pull it in.
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So these were some of the skills that I had developed, and had become natural, my physical behavior and my vocal behavior, that I had to hide for a lot of roles because only an actor would have those skills. So here comes a part where I wouldn’t have to hide anything and I could actual use the skills that I had acquired in theater. The ability to project, hold an audience, and communicate effectively through certain techniques that a good professor would have. You use the same types of techniques in theater.
SS: That’s awesome. It takes a bright mind to see the commonalities between being a college professor and a stage actor. It’s truly insightful.
XB: Also playing a professor with a high level of intellect was great. It’s easier to play a role where your part is dumber that you actually are in real life. It’s much harder to play a character who is brighter than you.