Michael Berryman – On Being a Reluctant Actor and Being on Set with Brandon Lee
One of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood, actor Michael Berryman never intended to get in to show business. But a chance meeting would change his life forever, and change the face of so many horror movies and psychological thrillers. Just in time for Halloween, Berryman sat down with me to talk about the cause of his hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, how he got his first part, and one of the most memorable moments he's ever had on set.
"My father was a Navy surgeon, a brain surgeon, actually, and was deployed on a secret mission to Hiroshima after they dropped the bomb," Berryman explained. "Long story short, my father came home irradiated and when I was born the radiation he was exposed to caused my genetic birth defects." Berryman was diagnosed with hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, and as a result has no hair, sweat glands, or fingernails. Being a movie star was never something that crossed his mind.
"I never had that idea," Berryman said of show business. After losing several civilian jobs as a result of his many challenges with hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, Berryman decided to apply for disability. The money from his first check would set him up to be in the right place at the right time. "I invested in a little, tiny gift shop with a friend of mine. We rented this little space and we had local artists. But while I was there, I met George Pal. He came in to the store. We had a conversation. And he said, 'Hey, your look is unique. I think I could put you in a psychological thriller I'm doing called Doc Savage'." Pal paid Berryman's SAG dues and got him on set. "After two days my job was done. I figured I would never work in the industry again. I was going to go to Alaska and homestead.
"I got a call from the casting director for George Pal. They were casting for another little movie on which I worked 127 days and learned my craft. And that was Cuckoo's Nest.
"It turned in to a way to take care of myself and get medical insurance and have a life. I'm very grateful to everybody and everything that caused that train of events to crescendo to where I am today."
To listen to the complete interview with Michael Berryman including his most memorable movie moment, on the set of The Crow with Brandon Lee, click below.