Brian Kerwin

 

 

 

"In the 80's, my strongest selling point, according to my agent, was an
all-American boy sort of thing. Luckily, I sometimes get to play a character
who really, underneath it all, is crazy. That's fun."


From a review of his resume at imdb.com, it's hard to believe that Kerwin wasn't born with a burning desire to act. As he tells it, he just sort of fell into it while a freshman at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

 

Kerwin grew up the son of an eye specialist in the Chicago suburb of Flossmor. He enrolled in premed courses at the Pacific without any thought of an acting career. After showing off one of his homemade movies, a friend encouraged him to major in film. "I told him 'you can't major in movies, that's like majoring in baseball,' " Kerwin smiles. "But, he told me about cinema courses at the University of Southern California, so I transferred."

 

At first he thought his interests lay in the technical end of filmmaking-- cameraman, director, editor, but after enrolling in a few acting classes, he settled into acting as his form of expression.

After graduating from USC with a degree in Cinema, Kerwin entered what he calls his aimless period, wandering the country doing odd jobs. "I worked construction, built a miniature golf course, drove a school bus, worked for the forest service in Oregon," Kerwin elaborates. "A typical government job. We had to burn off the slash left behind in a cutover area without starting the rest of the forest on fire. We'd go out at eight every morning and wait for the conditions to be just right, meaning dry enough to burn but wet enough not to spread. We'd sit till noon and they'd say, 'Well, it ain't going to work today, fellas.' And we'd get paid for it."

 

Kerwin's girlfriend at the time was offered a job modeling in New York so they moved east." To make ends meet, he opened a small, not-so-successful store in Greenwich Village selling handmade items. "I almost starved to death," he says. "One day James Coco came in and I asked him how to get an acting job. He said just to grab the trade papers and look for the open auditions. He made it sound simple, and it was, surprisingly. In two weeks I had a part in a play. I was very lucky. I thought if it was this easy, why not put a little commitment behind it?"

 

Kerwin decided to return to LA and, for the next year dabbled in screenwriting, actors' workshops, and submitted his picture to over 200 agents. While involved with the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, Kerwin won the lead role in a play. Spotted in the production by an agent, who thought he resembled Nick Nolte, he was encouraged to try out for the role of Nolte's son in Rich Man, Poor Man II. "I didn't get the part--I guess I didn't look that much like Nick! But I finally did get an agent out of the whole thing."

 

Kerwin did win the role of Greg Foster on the daytime serial, The Young and the Restless. "In terms of the starting of my career, one of the best things that every happened to me was getting hired. The only thing that may have been better was, getting fired. I was there for 40 episodes. I was David Hasselhoff's brother. Maybe I was young and silly, but I truly did not get along with the producer, at all, one little bit," he says. "The truth is, the only satisfying part of it was that for the first time I was being paid to act. "

 

Not down for long, Kerwin won a part in A Loss of Roses, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright William Inge. "It had flopped on Broadway, but in a 50-seat theatre in Los Angeles it was sensational. The cast worked well, I had the spotlighted role and we got reviews my mother couldn't have written better. And absolutely everyone in the business came to see us."

 

The impact led to a number of offers for work in film and television, including a holding contract with NBC to be placed in a series. The series turned out to be The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, opposite Claude Akins, as deputy sheriff Birdie Hawkins.

 

From that point forward, Kerwin has maintained a steady flow of acting parts spanning 30 years-- a career most actors would kill for...

 

His feature film credits include A Real American Hero with Brian Dennehy and Forest Tucker; Murphy's Romance with Sally Fields and James Garner; Torch Song Trilogy with Harvey Fierstein and Matthew Broderick; King Kong Lives with Linda Hamilton; Love Field with Michelle Pfeiffer, Hard Promises with Sissy Spacek, Miss All-American Beauty with Diane Lane and Cloris Leachman; Jack with Francis Ford Coppola and Robin Williams; The Myth of Fingerprints with Julianne Moore; and 27 Dresses with Katherine Heigl.

 

 

His list of made for television movies Include The Chisholms with Robert Preston, The Blue and the Gray with Lloyd Bridges and Gregory Peck, Bluegrass with Mickey Rooney, and two movies based on true stories, Switched at Birth, and Challenger. Kerwin has vivid memories of a time when movies of the week were big business. "Either Lindsay Wagner or one of the Charlie's Angel actresses would make them," he shares, "and it always had to do with some disease or tragedy. I would be the husband, neighbor, best friend, whatever. It was just a good, blue-collar job, making movies for TV."

 

 

His television credits include the lead roles in Showtime's Beggars and Choosers and the CBS drama Angel Falls. His recurring roles include Roseanne, The West Wing, Nip/Tuck and Big Love. His guest appearances include The Love Boat, Highway to Heaven, Murder She Wrote, St. Elsewhere, Frasier, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Boston Legal, Medium, Without a Trace, and Desperate Housewives.

 

All of these impressive roles have been woven in and around Kerwin's true passion--theatre, which brought him back to New York City where he now lives with his family on the Upper West Side.

 

 

Stage credits include The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? at ACT in Seattle and the Mark Taper Forum in L.A., Glimmer, Glimmer and Shine at Manhattan Theatre Club and the lead role in Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama How I Learned to Drive at the Mark Taper Forum. Also at the Taper he co-starred in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? directed by playwright Edward Albee and starring John Litghow and Glenda Jackson. He made his Broadway debut as Oscar Hubbard in The Little Foxes at Lincoln Center. Other New York credits include One Shoe Off at the New York Shakespeare Festival; Lips Together Teeth Apart and Emily with the Manhattan Theatre Club and Raised in Captivity at the Vineyard Theatre. Other Los Angeles and San Diego productions include The Subject Was Roses, The Incredibly Famous Willy Rivers and his award winning performance in Strange Snow.

 

Kerwin has also stepped behind the scenes, doing so as the Executive Producer of the movie Common Ground. Kerwin and his manager A.D. Oppenheim pitched Showtime the idea of a three-part gay-themed movie by three gay playwrights. The cable network told them they had a deal if they could pull together three acceptable writers. Kerwin recruited Tony winners Harvey Fierstein and Terrence McNally and Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel. Acceptable?

 

Kerwin has recently come full circle from his first real acting job by joining the cast of the daytime serial One Life to Live opposite the incomparable Erika Slezak. And, after less than six months, has garnered a Daytime Emmy best-supporting actor nomination for his role as Charlie Banks, a recovering alcoholic on a mission to set things straight with his estranged son. "I thought I would never do a soap again. I had a very bad experience working on Young and The Restless and I certainly stayed away from soaps for the longest time based on that." This time around he enthuses, "It's everything I want in a job. I like all the people I'm working with and they seem to be accepting of me. We're all just a mutual admiration society -- so it's working out!"

 

By the look of it, Kerwin has to be the hardest working man in show biz these days. Aside from juggling his hectic schedule working in daytime and devoting time to his wife and three teenage children, he's appearing nightly on Broadway as a salesman with a penchant for little girls in the highly touted Tracy Lett play August: Osage County.

 

For someone who just fell into acting, Bravo!