Friday, March 18, 2011

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

In Parts One, Two and Three of our interview with Thom Bierdz, the acclaimed actor and artist spoke about his best selling biography Forgiving Troy, his struggle to forgive his brother following a violent family tragedy, as well as struggles being out as gay in Hollywood, and the highs and lows of Phillip Chancellor on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS.  In this final part he shares his inner conflicts between expressing himself as an actor as an artist, and opens up about the importance of cosmetic surgery.  What misinformation does he want to clear up? Find out below!

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: The career as an artist and as an actor can often ride on two separate tracks.  From the way you’ve described it to me, it sounds like those tracks can conflict.
Thom Bierdz: I’m still trying to make sense of them.  I’m trying to figure out where is my calling. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Which one of those is more rewarding to you?
Thom Bierdz: Both. I’m not naturally an actor.  I’m not a guy who likes people looking at him, or likes being in a room full of people.  But I see that I’m a vulnerable compassionate person and I believe, especially on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS that people see I’m a nice gay guy.  I think that is important.  I’m pleased as an actor that I’ve been able to be so honest and committed to that aspect.  I have felt ever since I was a little boy that I was supposed to be in front of people.  That is very conflicting to my natural nature. 

There are some amazing actors in the movies and on that show.  But as wonderful as they are, they’re doing something they are told to do.  Now, the purest thing I can deliver is my art because there is absolutely no other influence than what is coming through me.  Ideally if when I open up it is through spirit.  It is right there.  An actor doesn’t have that privilege. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you think being gay in 2011 is easier than 1991?
Thom Bierdz: I moved out here when I was twenty-one.  Gay has always been easy in Los Angeles. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Really, even with...
Thom Bierdz: No, not in the industry, not in soaps.  I’m just talking about at the supermarket, holding hands  with a guy, or going to the gym.  That’s always been easy, people have always been out.  There’s been no bigotry that I’ve experienced in the city.  If people living in small towns are having a hard time with it then either run for mayor or move to a big city. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you think gay men have a harder time getting older than our counterparts?
Thom Bierdz: I guess so.  Yes, I’ve had cosmetic work and I do talk about that in the Frontiers magazine.  It’s funny you mentioned surgery [in Part Three].  It’s really interesting what people define today as cosmetic or plastic surgery.  Do fillers and botox not count? I’m looking at people decade after decade and they look the same! Fifty percent of the people I see on TV are not getting older.  It’s filler.  I just discovered filler this year, I just had some filler under my eyes and now I can recognize it other people.  Why are people reluctant to talk about it? Because in the industry a producer may not hire you if they think you’ve had plastic surgery or work done.  But then again, with Nicole Kidman and people like that, everyone knows they’ve been enhanced.  And they are still hirable. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What are you doing physically and spiritually to take care of yourself now?
Thom Bierdz: I bike ride twenty minutes uphill to the gym.  That gives me my cardio.  Then I work out.  I listen to Abraham Hicks.  I have a good spiritual coach named Joe Argazzi.  Lately I realized I need to do some stuff with my skin.  I ignored my skin forever. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You feel you need to do more stuff?
Thom Bierdz: Yeah!

Thom Bierdz: My pores are bigger than they used to be.  My skin is not as smooth as it used to be.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Is that important to you?
Thom Bierdz: It never has been.  I’m not necessarily attracted to guys because of their skin, that’s never been important.  But I do want to look as young as I can.

Thom Bierdz: Why do I want to look as young as I can? (Pause) I want to matter. I want to make a difference.  Unfortunately, people are going to turn the channel unless they think you are attractive.  This is what we see on TV.  The newscasters are supermodels.  Everyone is conventionally magazine attractive on TV.  I want to make a difference.  I want to look good and I want to do what I can to look as good as I can.  Also, for myself, so I feel good.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: The idea is that younger is more attractive?
Thom Bierdz: Dude, I’m not saying that.  The industry is saying that.  I’m acknowledging the industry says that and I don’t think anyone can deny that. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Then how do you ever know when you’re there, when you’ve done enough? 
Thom Bierdz: I never liked the way I looked, even as Phillip Chancellor when I started. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Has there ever been a time when you looked in the mirror and said to yourself, “Yes, I look good just the way I am?”
Thom Bierdz: Lately I like my face with the beard scruff.  I look in the mirror and think, “That’s the guy I always wanted to look like.” I’m looking more now like I’ve wanted to look than I ever have before.  It’s kind of sad I’ve never liked the way I looked when so many people liked the way I looked. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: That sounds like tremendous pressure on you.
Thom Bierdz: I’m not always thinking about it. I’ve just made a decision to do whatever I can to look the way I want to look.  It’s true that my marketability is somewhat based on what people consider attractive.  That’s sad, but I have not proven myself as an actor or an artist beyond that. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Have you gotten positive feedback about how open you’ve been about this issue and your struggles?
Thom Bierdz: Yes.  It just feels right to share everything and have everything shared back.  The other way seems stifled and cold. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: When I think about your example of contacting your brother in prison, and extending love to him after what he had done, I am moved.  Very few people in this world have the capacity extend love to another human in that way. 
Thom Bierdz: Thank you but I have to disagree with that.  People love so much.  Sometimes they do it a dysfunctional way, but everyone loves so much.  I think what I have been able to do is to be revealed and exposed. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Is there any misinformation about you that you want to clear up?
Thom Bierdz: Yes! I think if people take just a snippet here and there...I’m a complicated guy.  The people who know me get that my intentions are good.  If people don’t know me they misinterpret my being scared as being arrogant.  I’m misread about that.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You seem fearless about how you live your life.
Thom Bierdz: A guy I dated last year said, “You are the most frightened man I’ve ever met and the most fearless.” I’m both of those, I guess. I’m still trying to figure it out.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thank you for reading this special interview.  To see more of Thom's paintings, and to keep up with all his upcoming projects, go to his personal website.  Or, you can go to Facebook and friend him at "Thom Bierdz II." Please keep coming back to WE LOVE SOAPS for a more complex interviews and discussions than you will find anywhere else.

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].

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