Bruce Boxleitner Interview: "Television Is Very Cynical Nowadays," Calls for a Return to "Good Old-Fashioned Shows"
Image attributed to Bruce Boxleitner
Bruce Boxleitner is known for starring in the television series How the West Was Won, Bring ‘Em Back Alive, Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Babylon 5. He is also known for his dual role as the characters Alan Bradley and Tron in the 1982 film Tron, a role which he reprised in the 2010 sequel, Tron: Legacy and the animated series Tron: Uprising.
Other television appearances include The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gunsmoke, Police Woman, Hawaii Five-O, Tales from the Crypt, Touched by an Angel, Chuck, Heroes, NCIS, CHAOS and GCB. The versatile actor appeared in the films Murder at the World Series, The Baltimore Bullet, Kenny Rogers as the Gambler, The Babe, The Secret, Perfect Family, Free Fall, Gods and Generals, Snakehead Terror, Love’s Everlasting Courage and 51, just to name a few.
"It’s just my opinion, but I think, Melissa, that we do need the TV shows and specials like Silver Bells because television is very cynical nowadays. I think we need more good old-fashioned shows, something where we’re uplifted at the end. Do you know what I’m saying? I’m not a goody two shoes here, but the landscape that I function in, television basically, is very cynical and dark."
The longtime fan favorite currently co-stars with Andie MacDowell on Hallmark channel’s first-ever primetime series, Cedar Cove, stars in Hallmark’s The Thanksgiving House and can be seen in UP TV’s world premiere holiday movie Silver Bells that airs Sunday, December 1, 2013, which also features Antonio Fargas, Kenton Duty, Bridgett Newton and Laura Spencer.
Boxleitner resides in Los Angeles and has three sons: Sam, Lee and Michael.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Bruce, I can’t believe the Christmas season is already here! Do you have holiday traditions?
Bruce Boxleitner: Well, my kids are all grown, and it’s hard to get everyone together (laughs). That seems more difficult now than ever because they’re all spread out all over the place. But, yeah, I’m going home to see my mother and father. They’re up in years now, and I want to spend some precious time with them back in Illinois for Christmas. That’s what I’m doing. Then we’ll have a get together with the kids and everybody when I get home. It’s kind of a different Christmas this year.
I grew up having wonderful family Christmases where everyone went to my grandmother and grandfather’s farm for a big family gathering. We had dinner, exchanged presents and just had a celebration. Sort of a Norman Rockwell kind of Christmas I always lived, you know?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How lovely! Silver Bells is a very sweet Christmas movie, but the message is actually relevant for anytime during the year.
Bruce Boxleitner: Oh yeah. I think it’s a message that just happened to fall at Christmastime, but it applies to anytime of the year. It’s the story of the rise and fall of a guy and his redemption in the eyes of his wife, son and family and his “guardian angel,” Antonio Fargas’ character. It sort of reminded me of a Frank Capra movie similar to It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart which, I think, is just about anyone’s favorite holiday movie. Silver Bells kind of has the same message.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Absolutely. Your character, Bruce Dalt, is a very competitive guy. Was that good casting?
Bruce Boxleitner: (laughs) Yeah. I would say I am competitive. I don’t think I’m overly as competitive as perhaps Bruce Dalt is, and that’s what tickled me about the character. I just took my own competitive nature and sort of kicked it up a bit. He’s a bit obnoxious (laughs). But he pays for it. He’s made aware of it. He’s made aware of the goodness he can do for others. That’s what I loved about it.
Bruce is redeemed at the end, and he’s not so concerned with who gets the credit for a good deed as the fact that a good deed is done and that he helped do it. He lets somebody else take the credit for that. Bruce has quite a journey though. I loved his journey.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You also star in the Hallmark channel’s first-ever original scripted series Cedar Cove. The show has been described as TV comfort food. Is that something you feel is necessary in the world today?
Bruce Boxleitner: It’s just my opinion, but I think, Melissa, that we do need the TV shows and specials like Silver Bells because television is very cynical nowadays. I think we need more good old-fashioned shows, something where we’re uplifted at the end. Do you know what I’m saying? I’m not a goody two shoes here, but the landscape that I function in, television basically, is very cynical and dark.
We’ve got a lot of serial killers, bad cops and vampires. That whole thing. And that’s all well and good. But we could use a little variety and have something that people feel safe going to or watching with compelling storylines and characters they can identify with. I don’t know if you can identify with many vampires or walking dead zombies, but I think the people in the series Cedar Cove or in Silver Bells are people you can relate to in your own everyday lives.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You’ve played so many “good guy” roles that I doubt anyone would believe you as a serial killer in Criminal Minds (laughs).
Bruce Boxleitner: (laughs) Actually I’ve played a serial killer or two. But that was a long time ago. Well, I don’t mind that. I don’t mind.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I have a blast from the past for you – From the Dead of Night (1989) with Lindsay Wagner!
Bruce Boxleitner: There you go (laughs). Lindsay and I just had a movie on that other channel now that you mention it … The Thanksgiving House (on Hallmark). I seem to be "Mr. Christmas and the Holidays" this year on television. But, yeah, I was a good guy in From the Dead of Night. I got the girl in the end, and the bad guy lost.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): In the 1980s, I was glued to the TV watching Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Cagney & Lacey on Monday nights!
Bruce Boxleitner: Yes. We had some good shows in the 80s. That’s for sure.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you kept in contact with Kate Jackson?
Bruce Boxleitner: I haven’t talked to her in a while. It has been about a year since we talked on the phone. I haven’t seen her in many years, but I’ve talked to her.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): During that time, you were named one of TV’s “Top 10 Hunks.” Do you sort of tongue in cheek handle that whole sex symbol thing?
Bruce Boxleitner: Oh of course. You can’t really take that seriously (laughs). I never did. It’s kind of a joke. I’ll be looking back and say, “Who are they talking about?” That’s mainly stuff publicists put out there (laughs). Hunk? Do they still use that word?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I think “hunk” is outdated (laughs). Is there any news about Tron 3 other than the script is being written now?
Bruce Boxleitner: That’s all I know. All I know is it’s in the works. It takes a while to get the whole creative team back together. There are many steps that go into a big motion picture like that. I think the director/producer was on Tron: Legacy four years on pre-production before we ever got to casting and shooting it. But I love it.
It’s the one character that’s kept with me for 30 years now. I’m told I’ll be in it, so that’s all I know. And I’m told that I’ll be very happy with it. But I don’t know the when and where and that sort of thing yet.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You career has spanned 40 years. Any regrets?
Bruce Boxleitner: Oh my gosh. I don’t think there’s anyone in this business that doesn’t have regrets. Maybe you should have gone one way, and you didn’t, or there was a role you were offered, and you turned it down. Everybody has those in this business. But, no, I’ve got to tell you that I’m very blessed. Actually I’ve been very, very blessed for the most part for the paths my career has taken.
I don’t know where some of my contemporaries have gone, so I feel very blessed that I’m still doing it. I’m not ready to stop by any means. I’m in my 60s, and I’m feeling better about it and more excited about it than I was in my 30s and 20s. I feel really good about it.
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