Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thom Bierdz on "Forgiving": The WLS Interview, Part One

What hasn't been said already about Thom Bierdz? The courageous and outspoken actor has come clean about every subject from his sexual orientation, to his cosmetic surgery, to his brother's murder of their mother.  What he doesn't typically share is his reaction to these events - to the interviews, the publicity, the revelations that have taken on a life of their own.  Please join us for this special interview as we go deeper with the talent whose resilient heart and soul continue to become works of art on their own.

In Part One, he shares aspects of his upcoming appearance on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, and how he came to write his biography "Forgiving Troy."

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: It is so wonderful to meet in you in person.  I have admired your work since you started as Phillip on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS.
Thom Bierdz: Thanks so much.  I look back on that and think, “I was so self-conscious then, I could have been a better actor.” I was good when I had to be intense.  But it is good when I go back now, and I have some good stuff coming up.  I am on four days, March 15-18th. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What can you tell us about that?
Thom Bierdz: I can tell you that I have some beard scruff, and we had a discussion about that.  “Should Phillip have that, should he not have that?” My argument was that Chance has a beard, he’s supposed to be my son, and he looks almost as old as me.  He’s six inches taller than me, he’s my son!  So we tried it this time. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Will John Driscoll (Chance) be joining you for this upcoming appearance?
Thom Bierdz: I can’t tell you that.  But John is great.  He is so devoted to his girlfriend, and is such a great guy.  I don’t think he’ll be seeing you as a marriage therapist [laughs].

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:  Good to know.  So I will be honest with you in saying I have not yet read your book “Forgiving Troy,” though I am familiar with the subject matter.  For those who don't know, what are the themes of your book?
Thom Bierdz: Funny, I just got an email from a very big publicist who asked me to drop off a copy of the book in his office.  I said, “Sure, why?” He said, “Because a friend of mine’s brother just killed their parents.” When you hear something like that it is just unbelievable.  And you as a therapist know how extreme that is.

In 1989, my brother killed our mother.  He is a paranoid schizophrenic.  The book is all about how that could possibly happen to such a sweet and devoted mother, how he started acting up at age fifteen, and escalated until he was nineteen when he killed her.  Then the book chronicles my path, my journey.  It is me making choices that are not conventional, and thus bringing him back into my life. We are as close as we can be today.  It is a story about brothers and how we can go from such a horrible place to a place of being there for each other.

One of the reasons I knew I had to forgive my brother was because my mother always said, “You four kids will always have each other.  Promise me you will always be there for each other.” So I will always be there for him.  If and when he gets out of prison I will gladly take him and watch him.  But he got life, meaning 50 years, so he is not eligible until 2039.

What is so fascinating is the journey he’s been on.  We did not feel he was schizophrenic and most of the psychiatrists that he saw did not feel he was schizophrenic.  He had a book about schizophrenia hidden under his bed so we didn’t know if he was trying to fake it or if he was trying to cope.  He went to a very dark place, and a much darker place after he killed her.  Now he’s doing pretty good.  He is rarely delusional.  He watches THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, I tell him when I’m on.  He has a job now in the prison.  On a side note, I have taken many of my boyfriends to meet him in the visiting area.  At one point Troy was saying that they offered him a job handing out towels in the showers.  My boyfriend at the time so wanted that job! For $0.35/hour he was willing to do it!

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Is he on medications now?
Thom Bierdz: Yes. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Prior to this homicide, had he been violent?
Thom Bierdz: Yes, and that’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book.  When I went through the 400 pages of court records, most of which my mother had kept secret from me because she didn’t want to worry me in Hollywood, you could see that of course this was going to happen.  Of course.  There were so many signs.  But they were waiting for a body in order to get him the help he really wanted. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Had he tried to get help before?
Thom Bierdz: My mother had tried to get him help many times.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What happened?
Thom Bierdz: When and if he was incarcerated he was too young to be there.  Like if he stole Mom’s car, and she reported it, he was put into prison.  But whenever he was in a prison for something like that he would try to slit his wrist, and they would put him in a psychiatric unit.  Whenever he was in a psychiatric unit he would attack a nurse.  So they kept shifting him back and forth, no one wanted to deal with him.  I don’t think we have all the answers to that.  But a lot of people are still going through this, I get letters all the time. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Were there adequate psychiatric services available to him?
Thom Bierdz: No.  If there would have been this would not have happened.  She pleaded for help. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What was the biggest obstacle? Insurance?
Thom Bierdz: He was in the best place that they said they could put him, which was a halfway house in Milwaukee, that my mother had to pay for.  I had visited him in the halfway house before.  There was no supervision. It was ridiculous that people thought this was a halfway house.  There was no security, no therapy, nothing like that.  She had brought him home for the weekend, and he did it in the kitchen.  A lot of times the boys and mothers are separated for a period of time before the murder.  So it was almost a classical situation.  But there is nothing predictable or classical about what has happened since.  He eventually evolved to make the most of who he is today. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: In July 1989 you were living here in California when your received the shocking news of your mother's murder.  How did you deal with that?
Thom Bierdz: It has been a process.  I have been an insomniac for over 20 years.  When your brother kills your mother [pause], and your other brother kills have major trust issues.  I do have major trust issues.  But I have always tried to focus on what is exciting to me.  This is why I paint and I write and I pursue acting.  I do what is exciting for me because I do believe in life after death.  I am always asking for guidance from above...always asking.

All in all, I think most people would say I have had a nice existence so far.  People think I’ve got so much going for me, so many benefits.  I do feel I have created my life and am comfortable.  It is what I want.  Going through the initial visits to see my brother in prison in 1994, the same prison where Jeffrey Dahmer was, I realized how unusual the circumstances are.  I thought, “This is going to be a movie someday.”  It has taken me a great deal of time to get interest because I was so protective of the story.  Right now there is a very big movie star that has the property.  I can’t talk about it.  I don’t know what’s going to happen with that.  But it is a story of transcendence.  Some of our conversations are just so... unbelievable [tearful].  The conversations we still have are like “Wow, this is so unusual.”

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Is he aware of his violent actions?
Thom Bierdz: He still has a hard time taking accountability for it.  He’s still trying to come up with reasons why he did it.  He is still trying to blame other things.  He comes up with the most obscure excuses, those are in the book.  If you were talking to him he would say, “Yes, I did it.”  At the trial he said, “Yes, I did it because she was a bitch.” I know he regrets it.  And that is rare.  Most kids who kill their parents do not regret it because they never get past the buried resentment and anger of what made them do it.  I think Troy has. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Was he abused?
Thom Bierdz: I go into that in the book too.  Not from my mother or father.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Have the medications helped him look at what happened?
Thom Bierdz: I think time has been the best tool for him to heal more than anything else.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Please go to Part Two in which we discuss the meaning of "forgiveness," the nature/nurture debate around mental illness, and Bierdz's personal tools for surviving severe trauma. Until then, tune into CBS's THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, and go to Bierdz's personal website to learn more about the book "Forgiving Troy."

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist now accepting new clients in New York City.  He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve," currently available at For more information about scheduling an appointment, please email him at [email protected].


  1. Excellent Interview!

  2. Another excellent interview.

    Damon & Roger,

    No other soap periodical, print or online, devotes as much energy and thought into the careful, detailed and intelligent interviews you conduct.

    Having just read the Timothy Stickney interviews and now Thom Bierdz, I applaud and thank you for your humane work.

  3. Thank you for this interview. Interviews like this are why We Love Soaps is my favorite soap site.
    Looking forward to part 2.