From Roger Dorn in Major League and Henry Spencer in Psych to Arnie Becker in L.A. Law and Harlan Dexter in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Corbin Bernsen has never failed to entertain film and television audiences and leave them impressed with his performance. A multi-talented individual with writing, producing, and directing credits in addition to his well-known acting roles, Bernsen’s latest undertaking is that of Matthias Leary in the horror film A Deadly Legend.
Following the film’s release, Bernsen spoke with Blast Magazine about joining his local film community, re-entering the world of Psych, and the growing popularity of streaming services.
Blast Magazine: You’ve worked on a variety of projects during your career, both in television and film. What was it about A Deadly Legend that made you decide to take it on as your next role and what was your experience like shooting this film?
Corbin Bernsen: I had just moved to the Hudson Valley in upstate New York and I learned that there was a burgeoning film community up there. I contacted the head of the local film commission and told him that I was there and would love to get involved and next thing I know, I got a phone call that there was a movie called A Deadly Legend set to film. They wanted to talk to me about doing it so I called them up, spoke to the producers, and they sent me a copy of the script. I thought it was a cool sci-fi story and it was great to join this film community where I had just moved to – it was like moving to a new area and making good friends right away. I didn’t really get that much time beforehand with the script but I thought it was cool so I crossed my fingers and toes, as I do with all projects, that it would turn out alright. I felt there was enough of the script and enough of the character there for me to hang my hat on and take it.
The experience was wonderful. It wasn’t a terribly long process – it was only a couple of weeks. I got to drive from my new home to the location every day and I was quite amazed with everybody. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into and it was a really wonderful crew. I remember beyond the director and producers, the makeup and wardrobe department were just really wonderful people. It was just a lot of technicians wanting to do a good thing up there, so that was fantastic.
Blast Magazine: On the topic of taking on lots of projects during your career, one look at your IMDb shows just how many projects you have already completed and how many are currently in some stage of production. You consistently seem to keep yourself really busy with work. Is there a project or type of project you haven’t done yet that you would be interested in tackling in the future?
Bernsen: I actually wrote a novel during quarantine but the central character is younger than me, so that wouldn’t be it. I’m also writing an idea I have for a TV series right now. In terms of a role, I don’t know. I just want to keep doing good work. It would be fun to do another big feature film just because the world around it is so much fun but I don’t even know what that’s going to be like now. It used to be just everyone having fun. I mean it was work – hard work – but it was big and there was a ton of people and a ton of crew. I don’t think it’s going to be like that anymore. But it was a fun world to be around when I did movies like Major League or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It’s just fun to be part of a big movie. I do think it would be fun to maybe do one big sci-fi James Cameron-type action movie because I’ve never done one before but I think after a day or two, I would get real pissed off because it’s probably all green screen.
I’m actually working on something pretty small right now. I’m more interested now in doing things I think might actually be able to be done soon and I want to do it in upstate New York where I live. I’m writing a comedy/drama about a guy who went to Woodstock with his best friend at 17 and basically never left. Now, he is here in this world, his buddy is dying, and his wife has left him, and he is realizing it might be time to give up and for the world of Woodstock to be over.
Blast Magazine: You mentioned your interest in doing another big-budget film and you have definitely done some of those in the past. A Deadly Legend is going directly to video-on-demand like a lot of other films, which is especially necessary given the state of the world right now. What are your thoughts on streaming platforms/video-on-demand vs. movie theaters? Do you see us only watching content within one of those forms of entertainment delivery moving forward?
Bernsen: I know people will go back to theaters and nothing is forever but I just don’t see people jumping back into movie theaters anytime too soon with everything going on. I’m all about streaming. The company I own for my own film production stuff is called Home Theater Films. I had the idea 10 years because I also love remodeling homes and doing those kinds of things. Gone are going to be the dining rooms and the studies. I think people are going to put big 100-inch screens on their walls and whether you sit alone or with 10 friends, this is the way people will watch films. I’m not talking about putting a movie theater in your house, but people are going to sit around their entertainment systems in their homes more and more. We just have so much access to everything that I think that is where we are going. As we watch some of these movies on streaming services that were probably meant to be released in theaters, I think that will happen more. I’m not opposed to theaters but I’m also 65. I enjoy sitting here with my wife cuddling up and watching something after we eat dinner on our own time and without worrying about parking and all that stuff.
Do I miss going to the movies? I do. I’m not going to lie about that.
I think first there will be some form of small movie viewing. I think drive-in theaters are going to come back big time and be really good with Bluetooth sound. I also think there will be outdoor theaters – full-fledged 6-feet apart boxes where you can watch movies with great sound and quality. I just don’t think you are going to find people indoors in the same way as before. We will resurrect something but I am all about streaming.
Blast Magazine: Speaking of content that you can access in your own home, you also worked on Psych 2: Lassie Come Home this year, which fans can watch on the Peacock streaming service. I know there are talks about a third Psych film and maybe even more after that. Do you see yourself playing Henry Spencer in every Psych movie they make or do you think there is an eventual stopping point for you and this character?
Bernsen: I’ll play Henry forever. I’ll go until I go. I think I could. Everybody but me probably thought Psych was done when the show was done but it’s only getting better. There was a concern about Shawn being too old to do this stuff. Is he? Yeah, but it’s funny. You don’t think his stuff with Gus at 50 is going to be funny? Of course it is. It’s going to be more pathetic and funny. I’ll hang in there, definitely. It’s just a delight to do. We enjoy, they enjoy it. [James] Roday Rodriguez has got his own series now so we can’t do another series but can we do a movie a year? Absolutely! Or every couple years? Sure!
Blast Magazine: A Deadly Legend was the feature debut of director Pamela Moriarty. What was it like working with her? Was it more of a collaborative experience between you, her, and the other actors in the film or did everyone just kind of stick to their individual roles?
Bernsen: When you work with someone new and you have been around for so long, there is a tendency to come in like “okay kid, let me show you the ropes and show you how it’s done” but I don’t work that way. I’ve tried to be super open and I don’t think I ever enter a project thinking that I know it all. I’ve directed 8 features and I know the job of a director is to pull it all together and know what everyone is doing. That’s their job and you gotta respect that. I pretty much go with the director, even a new director. I’m going to be as supportive as I can.
Blast Magazine: Circling back to the world of Psych, you’ve now played Henry Spencer many times. Is it natural to step back into that role or do you still have to get into a certain mindset again?
Bernsen: That’s a good question. There is something interesting that Tim [Omundson], who plays Lassiter, had to go through with this film. He had a massive stroke which everybody knows about but he is able to talk and walk and do things like that. When we were filming this movie, I could see within him this sort of desire to be what Lassiter was and I kept trying to encourage him to be what Lassiter is now. I tried to remind him that you are Lassiter and they’ve given you this role with the constraints of what you are able to do now. It’s more about focusing on what about Lassiter would be pissed off that he had a stroke or got shot.
My answer to you is that I don’t necessarily go back into these films with the intention of having to be what Henry was. It’s more about what Henry is now. There are the basics – my relationship with Shawn, Henry being a cop – that all stay. But especially with Henry, we’ve seen him change and wear beanies and become super cool in the last Psych movie. I think he’s chilled out a little bit and so have I. Stepping back in is not hard if you just take the script, remember what the relationships are, and then be what the character is now, not necessarily what they were. It’s probably a little bit harder for Shawn and Gus [James Roday Rodriguez and Dule Hill] because they’ve got this whole other rhythm thing going on that they have to get back into but look how quickly they did with this movie. I mean, they were way back in it.
Be sure to watch A Deadly Legend on streaming services including YouTube, Google Play, and Amazon Prime Video and check out Psych 2: Lassie Come Home on Peacock!