"Restless" Star Returns, Writes True Crime Book
The airy West Hollywood home of actor Tom Bierdz is filled with art, created by him. The paintings, in which one can see sometimes see the slight inspiration of Picasso, Matisse, or Van Gogh are vivid and still uniquely Bierdz. The sales of his artwork along with sorted jobs are what kept Bierdz a-strive financially after leaving his contract role of Phillip Chancellor with The Young and the Restless in 1989. That same year, his mentally unstable brother Troy beat their mother to death. It is this tragedy, along with others, that make up Bierdz's heart-wrenching book, Forgiving Troy, a journey toforgiveness and self-discovery. Troy Bierdz is now serving a life sentence at the Columbia Correctional Prison in Wisconsin. Coming full circle, Tom Bierdz has recently returned to the show, again playing Phillip, this time as an openly gay male.
SOAPDOM: EXACTLY HOW MANY YEARS HAD IT BEEN SINCE YOU LAST APPEARED ON Y&R?
Thom Bierdz: Twenty years, it was exactly 20 years to the week.
SOAPDOM: AND OF COURSE YOUR CHARACTER IS DIFFERENT NOW, NOT JUST GAY BUT HAS LIVED THROUGH A LOT?
Bierdz: There's still so many questions because they really haven't filled us in on what Phillip has been doing, anything about who he's been close to or anything about his business other than he owns a bar, so there is so much I don't know but there is no disputing that Phillip's heart is with certain people in Genoa City even if he closed that heart off, they were always important to him and I think a lot of gay people can understand the fear of somebody saying that you are not good enough and cutting you out of their life. What I would love to see happen is some long scenes with Jeanne Cooper (Kay) so we could talk about some [of Phillips's] personal stuff, sexuality, all that stuff.
SOAPDOM: NOW THAT YOU'RE BACK ON Y&R, CAN YOU COUNT MANY OF THE SIX DEGREES OF PHILLIP WITH THE PEOPLE OF GENOA CITY?
Bierdz: Yeah. When we talked about me coming back, it made total sense because there are still seven or eight people that are still part of Phillips's life.
SOAPDOM: SO MUCH HAPPENED BETWEEN NOW AND THEN, DID YOU STILL WORK AS AN ACTOR?
Bierdz: I did a couple of episodes of Melrose Place and Murder She Wrote and Matlock and didn't do much after that. I'm a real anxious guy and an introvert. As I matured, I realized what comes easiest for me is painting. The art opened up and the art took off and it was the easiest thing to do. For the last six years, I've been making a living selling my art so I am very grateful for that because there were years when I was a bartender and a waiter.
SOAPDOM: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BOOK, TELL ME IN YOUR OWN WORDS
Bierdz: The book was something I had to write. I was sitting on a park bench and realized, `No one is going to believe this. This stuff is just unbelievable what happened and that was around early '94. It wasn't just the fact that my mother was brutally murdered because sadly stuff like that happens, but the whole voyage after that and returning to my brother and discovering the situation that he was in and getting in touch with my mind and the minds of people in my family, was an important search for me.
I felt like this was so big that I had to share it and I was surprised to find that people can relate because I thought it was too weird. Here I am, this gay ex-soap star, who has a chip on his shoulder about limits and people telling me what to do, and thinking outside the box but ultimately why people are interested in the book is because it is about somebody like me who makes unusual choices and through those choices there is forgiveness found. There is rebuilding a family, there is love and now this incredible return to The Young and the Restless. Unbelievable. Surreal. I share a lot of personal stuff in this book because some of it is unbelievable but I wanted people to see, because it is all true.
SOAPDOM: THE SITUATION WITH YOUR BROTHER IS NOW BETTER?
Bierdz: Yeah, it's amazing. He just called me from prison. He will be there 30 more years. He is doing pretty good. He doesn't like being in prison. He doesn't have freedom but he realizes the sentence that he got. My mother was always looking for a structure that would treat him and protect him and he has that. He's on really good medication and seems to be doing good right now.
SOAPDOM: HAS HE REALIZED WHAT HE HAS DONE?
Bierdz: There are a few times that he has broke down. He usually doesn't go there. I think what he feels is that taking somebody's life really swallows up your own and he has reached that by himself.
SOAPDOM: CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR MOM, WHAT TYPE OF PERSON WAS SHE?
Bierdz: My mom was a great mom. She was tiny, only five feet. She was honest. One of my aunts once referred to her like Judge Judy, which I have resisted until recently seeing any sort of similarities (laughs), but she was strict. She was a single mother raising four kids after my dad left. I never felt like she didn't love me. She knew I was gay and she was supportive of that.
SOAPDOM: WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE SHE EVER GAVE YOU?
Bierdz: I remember she sent me something that had weather balloons on it and there was a popular saying that said something like, "whatever the mind can conceive it can achieve." She said follow your dreams.
SOAPDOM: WHERE IS THE REST OF THE FAMILY NOW?
Bierdz: My sister lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin and she's got two wonderful daughters, one is finishing high school this year and the other next year. My dad lives in Lacey, Washington with his wife.
SOAPDOM: IS IT STILL REALLY DIFFICULT IN HOLLYWOOD BEING OUT?
Bierdz: It still is an issue and if it wasn't more people would be doing it. It's a handful of people that are out but you know how many people are really gay and they are not out but amazing changes within the last 20 years, absolutely.
SOAPDOM: WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK, YOUR JOURNEY?
Bierdz: I just want people to know how grateful I am that I have such support in my life. Here I am following my dreams and even though there were times when I was a waiter or a bar tender, I never gave up those dreams. I got such support for my book and for my acting because there are many people with incredible creative talents that are not getting that so I am a very lucky man.
I am a lucky man but I am also a nervous man. I haven't done my best Y&R work but I'm hoping to get some good stuff coming up.
|< Prev||Next >|