Michael Des Barres – That was very liberating for me then. I thought I could do all of this at once in one song – I can incorporate everything into a performance, performance art and drama and sex and put it all into one fabulous vehicle that would enable me to drive all around the world with it. I just wanted to have fun in New York. They said, “What would you prefer, Michael? Is it acting? Is it rock ‘n’ roll?” It is all the same to me – the most exciting thing you can do for me is live music. That would be my absolute preference.
Reviewfix.com – How does theater compare to playing rock ‘n’ roll?
Michael Des Barres – Theater is you saying somebody else’s work. In rock ‘n’ roll, you’re being spontaneous and you’re expressing yourself, and you are not a self that is being created to be interpreted.
Reviewfix.com – The “Dirtiest Show in Town” – did you feel that was sort of a training ground for you?
Michael Des Barres – The training rooms were the bedrooms of Chelsea.
Reviewfix.com – You are a Jack of all trades, and a master of them all. How do you kind of manage to juggle them all in a career? Are there are financial priorities?
Michael Des Barres – There’s no financial priorities for me. I mean, I’ve been very lucky, and now especially I do whatever I please, and I think the key to the fact that I’ve lasted 50 years in a business that really is very difficult to sustain a career, I think, is because I just really, genuinely have done what was in front of me and said yes. I’ve never been picky. I’ve done an episode of “ALF,” and I’ve also sung with Iggy Pop. It’s like, I’ve just said yes to things, and when you say yes, things happen, and I’ve never really had to juggle. There was one period in the ‘80s, early ‘90s, where I did three TV shows at once. That took a bit of scheduling, but it all worked out. The key is to just say yes to whatever is in front of you and not worry about a schedule – somebody else can do that.
Reviewfix.com – You’ve been in about 40 movies and 100 TV series. Do you prefer one medium versus the other?
Michael Des Barres – I love just expressing myself. I will absolutely engage anyone and everyone who comes in front of me, and it’s all the same to me. I think actors forget that when the director says “action,” you don’t have to start acting. The seamlessness of the performance is not being aware that you’re being filmed or recorded. You’ve got to be there and relax and just be in that moment and just engage with what’s going on around you, and let God take care of the rest.
Reviewfix.com – You played the character Dog from “WKRP” – Charles Weatherbee – and the very different “Diary of a Sex Addict” and “MacGyver.” Your career is just amazing.
Michael Des Barres – I had no idea of how it all happened. I remember specifically we came off the road with the Power Station – I was in that rock ‘n’ roll star bubble. It was so fun for me, because up until the Power Station I really did not have private jets and taking me to and from shows and massive audiences. It was way more subversive and way more culty than the Power Station – I was a massive fan of Power Station, and how “MacGyver” happened was magical. I remember I came of the road, and I still had the white Rolls-Royce being driven around in this, I got an audition to play a one up thing in “MacGyver.” I think this was the first season, maybe the second season.
Reviewfix.com- Yeah. Murdoc, right?
Michael Des Barres – Yeah, Murdoc. I showed up in this white Roller and the producers were outside smoking a cigarette, and I got the job pulling up in a car, which was glamorous and so romantic, so dramatic. They wanted this character played, and then I spent the next six years doing “MacGyver,” playing this wonderful role.
Reviewfix.com – Was that supposed to be a recurring role originally, or not?
Michael Des Barres – I did it once, and then I just got a fan base real quick. Kids loved it. It was all young guys, especially African-American young guys, who still see it on the telly and syndication. They love it because that character was such a variance with MacGyver’s, who had no guns – a pure, good man. I think it sublimated a lot of peoples’ revenge fantasies against their fathers, whatever, that theory about it. Murdock just took care of the problem.
Reviewfix.com – Is it easier to play someone like that, or harder?
Michael Des Barres – I never really think about “Is it harder…?” I don’t think like that.
Reviewfix.com-More challenging, I mean?
Michael Des Barres – Challenging, no. People say, “What are your influences in music?” And my response is everybody. Anybody that plugs in a guitar inspires me, and every actor and actress who has ever had the courage to step in front of a camera with a hundred people looking at you and listening to the potentially inspired word action inspires me, so what am I talking about is self-confidence. That’s the most important thing for me, is being relaxed enough to be able to just let it happen and not push what’s happening. So, if I started to think, “Is this challenging” or “do I prefer this,” I think that’s where the problem starts as an artist. I think you have to feel very free, and what interpretation you give is all you can do and therefore it’s perfect, you see?
Reviewfix.com – Yes.
Michael Des Barres – The minute I give out being limited, it shows.
Reviewfix.com – Were either of your parents theatrically or musically inclined?
Michael Des Barres – Well, I didn’t know them, I never really knew them. My mother was a stripper, I’m sure you’ve done the research. She was a bohemian woman who sang, kind of, and I remember vaguely hearing her mangle Billie Holiday, but I know that she was a very theatrical woman. She had me when she was 17. It’s a long story, I think there was something from there, but I don’t know where it came from. Who knows where these things come from?
Reviewfix.com – It’s a gift.
Michael Des Barres – It is a gift, and I am blessed to have it.