Oh, you thought there would only be one interview? I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview one of the stars of Hate Crime Kevin Bernhardt. You may know him from the Golden Globe-winning show Dynasty, Daytime Emmy award-winning show General Hospital as well as some feature film performances such as Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth.
Hi Kevin, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, I have seen Hate Crime and I think it was marvelously dramatic with fantastic performances by all involved. In my reviews I try to write without going into major spoiler territory, so with that being said, could you briefly give a summary of Hate Crime and who you play without giving too much away
You are most kind with your comments, and I truly appreciate it. Hate Crime is a story set around the parents of a son who is gay. Things have gone very badly for that boy, largely because my character has not been the most open and accepting father. As a result, my son’s shame has driven him to murder his lover. This is the story of his parents, in the hours leading up to and after his execution – and for my character the fact that he is culpable in all this.
Could you tell me what your first initial thoughts were when you received the script to Hate Crime and what about was the deciding factor in your undertaking of the role?
I remember precisely my initial thoughts. Firstly, as an actor (because that’s what I was being asked to do) – I loved the white on the page. So much between the lines that were there, but couldn’t be said with words. I also very much appreciated the fact that it was about something which is so predominant in our society but rarely explored with this unique point of view. But the deciding factor for me was the vision for the film, which the director Steven Esteb so eloquently expressed.
Steven Esteb directed Hate Crime, who I have also interviewed. was he very easy to work with on set and how confident were you in your role under his directorial guidance?
For me, Director Steven Esteb was great to work with, for several reasons. Firstly, he is an accomplished screenwriter as well – and as such he really searched out the endless subtleties and nuances of our characters. This is most important with a story like this – as it lives or dies with the characters, not the plot. I was particularly impressed with how he found a way to speak to each of the actors very differently, to put them where he wanted them. He had evaluated each very early on and knew how to communicate effectively. This was important to me because my interactions with both Amy and John were met with an optimal force. And speaking even more personally, he helped me get to a quieter place that I normally inhabit – and it was uncomfortable. But once I was comfortable in that discomfort – I found it very useful in the performance.
Aside from Steve, this film hosts a bunch of other great talents, Amy Redford, John Schneider, Laura Cayouette, etc. Was there anyone who stood out to you as finding particularly enjoyable to work with?
Most of my scenes were with Amy Redford, and she was particularly enjoyable in many aspects. She brought a strong work ethic and an uncanny ability to be absolutely authentic with her emotions, which only served to ignite a natural reaction in me. The hunting dogs (beagles) were also great until one of them decided to upstage me. While I dredged up the tears for my dead son, that particular mutt stepped into the frame behind me and relieved himself with a #2. Oldest actor trick in the book. It was a cold night too, so if anybody missed it, the steam confirmed it was there. The smell helped bring tears though, so I just rolled with it.
Looking back at your other various roles, is there anything you can point out about this character as being, to some degree, challenging for you?
Tom Brown’s quietness. I am typically cast to be too loud, and outgoing. But here was a character who was carrying the weight of the world, but had been brought up not to breath a word of his pain, even to those closest to him. It’s a deep simmer. But when that pot finally did boil over –
I’ve read that this film has gotten a lot of praise from the LGBT community as well as winning various awards with one being from the MiFo LGBT Film Festival. How gratifying is it knowing you have the seal of approval, if you will, from this community?
This is one of those special films which has something to say, and it’s nothing like most of the others exploring that territory. For that community to approve of and even embrace us – is validation that our efforts are relevant and may possibly even make someone’s life a little easier. I am particularly happy with their acceptance.
I think it’s fair to say that Hate is a very thought-provoking film because of how dramatic it can be. What kind of discussions do you think people will be having after viewing this film?
I can only hope it might provoke discussion about not only those who still suffer from the challenges of being gay in some parts of the world – but also the challenges to those who care for those who are, whether they are linked by blood or simple proximity. Most hatred toward something unfamiliar – is only rooted in fear and misunderstanding. It’s only once both sides of the experience are better known, that there can be common ground – which can only foster appreciation and love.
Well, I would like to say a big thank you for answering my question. With my interviews, I like to leave the last question as a chance for filmmakers and performers to really sell their film to my readers. So, could you tell me why my readers should watch Hate Crime?
I believe your readers will see something that they have not seen in many films. Going beyond the subject for a moment – shooting a lower budget allows filmmakers to achieve something very different. Hate Crime is unpredictable. It’s not bound by the rules of a traditional and formulaic film. But it takes you on an emotional journey anyway, and oftentimes even more so – with what you most certainly will not see coming. For those of the LGBT community, there is the vantage point of the families of young gay men, which is quite unique. For everyone else, there is an emotional and universal lesson in love, which cannot be defined by race, creed, or sexuality.
As this was my first time interviewing an actor, I’d like to say a big thank you to TriCoast Entertainment and Kevin Bernhardt for this fantastic opportunity.
Hate Crime is available now on Digital Platforms (Amazon, InDemand, DIRECTV, FlixFling, FANDANGO, Hoopla, Vimeo on Demand, Vudu, AT&T, and Sling/Dish).
Hate Crime Review: https://seanmcconvillereviews.com/2019/09/24/hate-crime-review/