Every actor fears dying—on-stage, on-screen or in real life. But playing the title corpse in Weekend at Bernie's was the best career move I've ever made. The 1989 movie grossed $35 million and turned Bernie into the most popular dead entertainer since Elvis.
For those of you who missed the original film, it's the story of insurance embezzler Bernie Lomax and the $2 million he stole. When two junior execs (played by Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman) discover that the funds are missing, Bernie invites them to a holiday weekend at his beach house in the Hamptons on Long Island. Finding their host murdered by a hit man, the two keep Bernie "alive" during the weekend's festivities while trying to avoid the same fate. The saga now continues in Weekend at Bernie's 2, due out this month. With the new movie and this pictorial to increase Bernie Lomax's fame, he'll probably be around for an eternity. That means I will, too.
It's strange how people confuse me with the character I play. Take our Playboy photo shoot on the island of St. Thomas, which is where the sequel was filmed as well. At first my Playmate pals from the movie were self-conscious about frolicking nude in front of me. But in no time, I became fun-loving, harmless Bernie. To get the right shots, they placed my hands on their thighs and breasts, hoping to embarrass me. Sorry to disappoint you ladies, I loved it. If I had known women were so attracted to the strong, silent type, I would have died professionally years ago.
Fans don't feel threatened by Bernie, either. While we were filming, three topless women asked to have their pictures taken with me, apparently figuring that I was just Bernie—dead from the waist down. But before this Bernie phenomenon, not even my most diehard fans would have posed for a head shot with me.
And even though Bernie is dead, he can still enjoy the predicaments he's always getting people into. On the set, a woman started talking to a Bernie dummy that was laid out on a gurney. She carried on a one-way conversation, thinking it was me resting between scenes. Then I walked by and said hello to her. The lady almost died. But then, Bernie has that effect on people. I'm just happy to know him.