Don't let Tom's Hollywood looks fool you. He has cautiously thumbed his nose at the town during most of his career, making no excuses for the kinds of films he does, past or present. And after over 20 years in the business he is still a respectable draw at any box office.
He is said to not be particularly impressed with any of his films, and he most notably disliked the 1993 thriller Sliver. Asked to name his favorite film, Tom, in a 1996 interview, named Betrayed, where he played a racist farmer who threatened Debra Winger. Most of the critics hated it, but Tom is quoted as saying, "It was exactly what it was meant to be."
The role that seems the nearest to his heart, though, is that of Lt. General James Longstreet, whom he portrayed in the classic Gettysburg (1992). Tom's great interest in Civil War history has led him to collect on and research the Civil War era in his personal life as well. He was once a partner in a nightclub in Wilmington, North Carolina called General Longstreet's HQ.
Tom Berenger was born May 31, 1949 in Chicago as Thomas Michael Moore. He graduated from Rich East High School in Park Forest Illinois in 1967, where he played football. He also participated in plays with the Spanish National Honor Society.
After High School, he attended the University of Missouri as a journalism major with hopes of becoming a sports writer. He was cast in a stage production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and his career path was changed forever.
Berenger did stints in local regional theatre repertory before coming to New York City in the mid 70's. He studied acting in New York while appearing in 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. He made a most interesting film debut as the psychotic pretty boy in Looking For Mr. Goodbar (1977). Soap fans will also 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).
The versatile Berenger continued to take on unpredictable roles, such as his cameos as Don the plumber in the last 2 episodes of the television series Cheers. He did a favor for his friend, director Oliver Stone, by appearing briefly as a recruitment officer in Born on The Fourth of July.
Perhaps one of his most recognizable roles was of veteran baseball catcher, Jake Taylor, in the highly successful film Major League (1989). He repeated the role in its sequel, Major League II (1994).
He has said he doesn't consider himself a part of Hollywood, and for years has distanced himself from what he says is "that dog and pony show " others call Hollywood. He prefers the Southern charm and peace he found in South Carolina, which he discovered while The Big Chill filmed there.
He stepped into producing in 1995 with the TNT movie Avenging Angel as a way to begin making pictures that he believed needed to be told. Berenger formed his own production company, First Corps Endeavors, in 1995 with producer William MacDonald. The First Corps name was in honor of General James Longstreet, whom he depicted in Gettysburg. The company ceased production in 1997.
In 1997 Tom starred in, and was Executive Producer to, the 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.
His long awaited One Man's Hero was released in September 1999, despite MGM's shabby treatment and ignorance of it. Berenger fans who were lucky enough to live in the areas of limited release, met it with great support. It is the story of a small group of Irish immigrants in the U.S. Army who defected to Mexico before the Mexican-American war and fought on the side of the Mexican Army
The final year of the millennium was a busy one for Berenger. He released Shadow of Doubt, The Gingerbread Man, Murder of Crows, In The Company of Spies, One Man's Hero, three Quaker State Oil Commercials and Diplomatic Siege.
Family Life: Married to third wife, Patricia Alvaran. Six children- 1 son and 1 daughter from first marriage, 3 daughters from second marriage, 1 daughter from third marriage.
Thanks to Jenny Hawran for help with Tom's bio.
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