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Interview: Bronson Pinchot Talks the 35th Anniversary of ‘Beverly Hills Cop’

January 17, 2020Ben MK

The buddy cop genre has given moviegoers such fan-favorites as the Rush Hour and Bad Boys franchises. However, few have defined the genre as much as the Beverly Hills Cop series. Starring Eddie Murphy in one of his earliest film roles, the iconic action comedy helped transform the former Saturday Night Live cast member into one of Hollywood's most recognizable stars. And now, to mark the 35th anniversary of the original movie, the entire trilogy has been remastered and re-released on Blu-ray with never-before-seen bonus features.

I caught up with Bronson Pinchot, whose small but memorable role as Serge was one of the highlights of the original Beverly Hills Cop. More recently, Pinchot has also appeared in Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and he will also appear in the upcoming season of History Channel's Project Blue Book.

Your role as Serge in the first Beverly Hills Cop was your second ever feature film role, and you ended up as sort of the breakout star of that movie. Do you remember how you got the role and what it was like making the film?

Pinchot: I had done a movie called The Flamingo Kid, and there was a lead actress in it named Janet Jones. There was some person that had a very small role where they had to be talking to her, and unfortunately for them, the director released that person — let them go home. And we were shooting about 30-40 miles from New York City. So the director, Garry Marshall, came up to me and said, "Can you improvise?" And I said, "Can I improvise!" And he goes, "Alright, fine. Come over here and improvise something with Janet, because I have to have a shot of her talking to somebody." So I improvise something and everybody made a big fuss over it because I was saving the day and that I was improvising.

And I get a call before that movie came out from a casting director named Marge Simkin, who cast Beverly Hills Cop, and she said, "I saw an interesting little scene in this movie and I'm told you improvised it." And I said, "Yep," and she said, "Well, we need you to improvise something for this movie, Beverly Hills Cop." She sent me the script, and I didn't see anything there. But I walked around and around and around and around the block with it — which is what I still do to this day — just reading it over and over and over. And finally, this voice came to me, and I thought, "Well, it's either the stupidest, strangest, weirdest thing ever, or it'll work." So I brought that in and did it for [director] Marty Brest and he hired me.

Did you expect your character to be such a hit with audiences?

Pinchot: No, I didn't. I lived in Hollywood at the time and literally the day after it came out I was walking to the supermarket on Poinsettia Avenue in Hollywood — which still has not been repaved, it's still got all cracked sidewalks — and a car drove up on the sidewalk. I thought they were trying to kill me. They drove up on the sidewalk screaming, "It's him! It's him!" I had no idea, I thought they were on drugs, but they had seen the movie. And that was the tip of the iceberg. I think even later I was on the Acropolis in Athens, and some people came running up screaming in some foreign language. There’s no way to describe how unusual the response was. It was almost like a practical joke, except it kept happening, and it kept happening all over the world.

What was it like working with Eddie Murphy in both the original film and Beverly Hills Cop 3?

Pinchot: On that [first] movie, I was scared and he had his bodyguard there. And the bodyguard did the talking, and all I did was the acting. So I was in awe of him when the camera was not rolling and scared to even initiate a conversation, and when the camera was rolling it was like we'd known each other forever. It's the weirdest thing, I can't quite explain it. I sat out the second one, and on the third one, even though we didn't know each other we were much more relaxed together, because years had passed and everybody had written about the movie so much. So they were two totally different experiences.

Of course, you recently appeared as Principal Hawthorne in Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Can you tell me about your experience working on that series?

Pinchot: It's an unusual character because everybody else on that show is going crazy and being witchy and warlocky, and my character was the buttoned-up jerk. But it was interesting to throw myself into that. I think twenty years ago, I think I might have tried to inject a little lunacy into it, but I was like, "Yeah, do it. Put on the suit, as it were, and see what you can create within that."

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but fortunately, after a few episodes the witches killed and ate me. But then I came back and I'm in Hell [and] I don't mean personally. I'm in the episode in Hell as a demonized version of myself; I'm certainly not buttoned-up, I've got my guts hanging around my neck. So I think I'll be able to see if it's better for my skill set to be buttoned-up and to have to really find clever ways to express myself. Or whether it should just all hang out — literally and figuratively.

Speaking of how you would approach a role twenty years ago versus now, if you were to return as Serge in the upcoming Beverly Hills Cop 4, what direction would you like to take the character? Since it's been 25 years since the last one.

Pinchot: I really don't know. I haven't heard anything about it, seen the script, heard about the script, or been invited to be in it. But to me, I always think it's marvelous in life when you run into someone twenty or thirty years later and, in a sense, nothing's changed at all. That's what tickles me about people. I have a feeling that would be my thing — that [Serge] just exists in suspended [animation]. I don't think he would change one bit.

For instance, I don't think his accent would have gone away. There are certain people like that in life. You say, "What a beautiful accent you've got. Where are you from?" "I'm from Bolivia." "How long have you been here?" "Fifty years." And they just hang onto it because they are. There's no way to tell. I don't think [Serge] would change. I don't think he'd change one bit. But his occupation might change. In the first, he was in an art gallery; in the second, he was doing guns at a gun show. I don't know, he could come out of a manhole, I have no idea. [laughs]

Last but not least, what are you working on next?

Pinchot: I've just finished a big guest-starring role on a show called Project Blue Book, which is an absolutely fabulous show about investigations into encounters of the third kind in the early '50s. And it's based in fact but they go wherever they wanna go, and it was absolutely sensational.

Beverly Hills Cop: 35th Anniversary 3-Movie Collection is now available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD.

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