Bernie Kopell

Q & A with Bernie Kopell when he starred as 'Moe' in the Off-Broadway comedy Viagara Falls which played at the Little Shubert Theatre from 21 Jul 2010 - 29 Aug 2010.

June 21, 1933.

Place of birth?

You now live in?
La La Land (For 52 years now).

Did you go to training school, if so which one?
NYU- Majored in Drama- Formal- Shakespeare, Shaw, Classics.

As an actor, do you have a preference for stage, TV or film?
I’m grateful for the gift of being employed in my craft. Right now I’m loving working on stage in New York at The Little Shubert Theater in Viagara Falls. I’m happy doing all of it.

Your first stage performance was?
Playing an 80 year old rabbi (when I was 20) in a play called The Lonely Ship starring Maurice Schwartz. It had closing notices on opening night!

Career highlight to date?
Playing Siegfried on "Get Smart" and working with Lee J. Cobb in the CBS special of Death of a Salesman.

What roles would you most like to play?
Whatever brilliant comedy-drama that’s out there for this old fart, but I’m peppy!

What's the best advice you have ever received?
Do what you love to do and don’t let anything interfere with your curiosity ...and dance while you can.

What has been your most embarrassing moment on stage?
My very first student play at NYU where I was such a nervous wreck I felt I couldn’t breath or move or speak or remember why I was there.

What is the most annoying part about your job?
The down time between jobs and interviews with kid producers who haven’t taken the trouble to look into the history of our privileged business.

Briefly tell us how you become involved with Viagara Falls?
Out of left field. I’d done a play in Edmonton, Canada in 1990. My picture was still up on the wall. Gary Tse, the manager of stage west in Calgary was looking to cast Viagara Falls. He happened to be up in Edmonton, saw my picture and said “If that son of a bitch is still alive, let’s use him” …and that’s how I got the part!

Briefly tell us about the character you play in Viagara Falls?
Mo is a widower still involved with his wife although she’s gone. Best friend, Charlie gets a note from the Veterans Administration. He assumes that his best friend is dying and determines to give his buddy a great send off having to do with a blue pill and a hooker. Mo resists, but…

If you had not become a performer, what might you have done instead?
I love the game of tennis, even though I got into it late (34) and have surprised myself by winning a number of pro-celeb tournaments. My dreams of becoming a tennis pro remain in the area of fantasy.

If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and what would you say to them?
Hitler—Stick to the painting! It’ll calm you down and cause you and the world a lot less trouble!

Favorite after-show haunts?
If I’m in town, getting home and putting my boys to sleep and as I’m driving home thinking of Richardo Montalban’s lines, “I do my best performances in the car driving home”.

What was the last book you read, and name some of your favorite authors?
John Irving’s A Widow for One Year. Tolstoy, Dostoyevski, Oscar Wilde, Neil Simon, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

What was the last film you saw, and name some of your favorite movies?
It’s Complicated, Citizen Lake, On the Waterfront, Streetcar Named Desire.

Favorite TV programs?
"Get Smart," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "NCIS," "The Fights," "Grand Slam Tennis"

Favorite holiday destinations?
Wailea, Maui; London; Florence, Italy; Sidney, Australia.

Do you have any hobbies?
Playing tennis and going to my kids’ baseball and tennis games and watching my kids and their friends and our dogs frolic in the pool. You wanna talk about joy?!

Do you have any superstitions?
Absoluntely not!—I don’t want to put a jinx on it by talking about them!