|What's it like talking to one of the most amazing "V" actors of all time? I can't even put it into words, just uncontrollable body motions--so picture it people! "Daniel Bernstein" 1983|
|David Packer's 2009
See the Interview below from February 8, 2010!
NEW - 04/23/10 - DAVID PACKER (Daniel Bernstein) just checked in! He's doing well in sunny California while we, in his home state of NJ, are still wearing light jackets in the morning!
DAVID PACKER INTERVIEW 2/8/2010
Happiness is talking about "V." Bliss is talking about "V" with one of the most dedicated actors from Ken Johnson's "V" and "V: The Final Battle" mini-series -- DAVID PACKER -- who played the character of Daniel Bernstein. No need to go into details, since we've all seen "V!" (and if you haven't seen "V" what are you waiting for?!)
David and I had a phone conversation for just about 2 hours on Monday, Feb. 8, 2010! David is a thinker about things in general, such as life, business and his career. He has lots to say, so let's hear it!
The burning question, of course, is if David has ever seen ABC's version of "V."
"Yes, I really liked and enjoyed the show," David told me. "I've been in contact withLOGAN HUFFMAN (Tyler Evans.) Logan is a really cool guy. I told him all about the acting mistakes I made on the show.”
We never actually SAW Daniel Bernstein killed. He was just dragged away in "V:The Final Battle” to become lizard food. However, if KEN JOHNSON's film gets made, it will most likely take place right after "V:TO" meaning Daniel Bernstein is still alive. Which we can only hope means…!!!
One of the most memorable characters David has portrayed in his acting career is Daniel Bernstein. As a "stupid 19 year-old kid," as David puts it, "I was so about the art of it and didn't really understand about the business end. I put my heart into it. After Ken Johnson left the show, I just did 'The Final Battle' because I felt I owed it the story. I asked for them to write me out because technically I was not under any contractual obligation. Back then I had no understanding that business realties don’t necessarily go hand in hand with artistic items. I regret not making the business decision to stick with the show; I would own a house in Laurel Canyon. You know it’s funny, I was so caught up in what Ken was trying to accomplish I had no understanding back then how huge the show was with the public. My first inkling of the popularity was that shortly after the show aired, I happened to be in Atlantic City with my sister and her husband and the second we walked into the casino about 50 people came over and recognized me. That was the first time anything like that had happened to me. I had no idea that was possible."
David, being a huge science fiction fan and one of the first people to read for one of the available parts in ‘V,’ “I didn’t have to go through any of the process of auditioning for the network. I was literally able to just be hired.”
David explained how contracts work. The actors are contracted for a seven year period even if the show is cancelled or not picked up. The networks hold all the cards.
Here's what happened in David's case: "I decided I didn't want to be under contract for a long period of time. In the old days, at least for me, my original contract went until May 15th, which shouldn’t have been a conflict because the network usually makes a decision in early May regarding which shows to pick up. Everybody else's contract, which they negotiated a little later, went until the end of the year. Since the original mini-series went on in early May and the numbers were really good, theoretically, the network should have given the 'go' but they were concerned about the cost. Based on the opening excitement of 'V,' that was the right time to do it; it creates momentum. So by May 5th, the network’s job is to get the affiliates enthusiastic, which they were. These were the highest ratings that NBC had gotten for a non-sporting event in years. But the show was expensive (nothing compared to a standard show today) and they decided to wait. At the last second they took ‘V’ off the fall schedule. Assuming they had until the end of the year to make the decision, because everyone was under contract, they later made the decision to try a second pilot which turned out to be ‘V: The Final Battle’ and discovered that I was no longer under contract.”
So would David do Ken Johnson's "V" film if asked? "Yes, in a second. I love Ken. I've always loved Ken. I would love nothing more than that." Yes!!!!!!!!
If asked to be involved with the ABC series, David is more than enthusiastic. “I’ve heard nothing but great things about JACE HALL and would be flattered to be involved.”
During "V," as many of you know, David was also involved in a tragedy; The death of co-worker,Dominque Dunne (Robin Maxwell, later played by BLAIR TEFKIN.)
I asked David if he still thinks about it. "I wrestle with this on a daily basis. It impacted everything. I think everybody in proximity of that house will be a prisoner of some sort for the rest of their lives; some in more positive ways.”
David also shared some personal stories. When I told him how my three kids,baby KJ, Tyler and Anna, were in show business, David immediately went on to defend the kids' well being. He said he's been around many different stage mothers, some who are all about the glitz and glamour, and others who have the child's best interest at hand. David used a prime example of the actor from "Lord of the Rings," Elijah Wood.
David said, "I worked with Elijah Wood previously to 'LoTR' when he was 8 or10 and his mother was the most hands off stage mother. She said, 'This is what Elijah's doing now [acting.] But, he also has homework, he has a bedtime, he’s still a kid. He'll do this [acting] until he doesn't want to do it anymore and all the money is going into his college fund.’"
David, at the time, was reading a book about the Kennedy assassination. He hung out with Elijah and talked to him about the book. Amazingly, Elijah was not only very interested but participated in the discussion. Afterall, he was just a kid. “I thought I was boring him to death,“ David assumed.
"Years later after ‘Lord of the Rings,’" David continues, "I was at the Beverly Center (mall in LA) and I hear 'Hey David' and I see it's Elijah. He was like, 'I don't know if you remember this, but when I was a kid, you sat and talked to me about the Kennedy assassination.’ Elijah told me it really made an impact on him and that really meant a lot to me because I, in a million years, wouldn’t even have thought he remembered that."
Another fun story is that David is a huge "Star Trek" fan and on one project, a movie called “Infested’ done in 2002, he actually got to work withRobbie McNeill from "ST: Voyager." Robbie directed the pilot of "Chuck" (by the way, the new showrunner on ABC's "V," Scott Rosenbaum, is from "Chuck.") “It was such a trip hanging out with someone from a show that I really enjoyed watching,” David said.
Incidentally, if you didn’t know this, the reason people want to direct the pilot of a series is because they want to be forever associated with the show and are given co-creator status. You may remember last year when ABC’s “V” went into arbitration (if not, read my Ken Johnson page.) Ken Johnson was fighting a battle to continue to keep his creator status.]
David loves telling stories and I love listening to them. “The day before I was flying to Vancouver to begin a series called ‘Birdland,’ David remembers, “I was at a screening for the movie ‘Kalifornia’ and I sawDavid Duchovny (‘The X-Files.’) Things were busy at the screening so we didn’t talk to each other. The next day on the plane, I noticed David was also on the flight but I didn’t feel comfortable going up to him. Well, it turns out we were staying in the same hotel in Vancouver as he was just beginning ‘The X-Files’.” (The Sutton Place in Vancouver, where the ABC “V” actors also stayed during the early episodes.)
“Again, I felt awkward going up to him,” David continued. “Well, later, we were in the elevator together and finally one of us broke and said, ‘Hey, weren’t you at that screening in California two nights ago?’ and we both said ‘Yes’ and finally introduced each other. We were like, ‘Hey, my name is David and your name is David…’ and since neither of us had anyone to hang out with, we became friends. A lot of the times ‘The X-Files’ was shooting in the same abandoned building as I was shooting ‘Birdland’ so we had a thing where a production assistant would come over and give me a message from David about meeting for lunch. As soon as I had a break, I would run up to David Duchovny's trailer and we'd watch videos until we had to work. It was a really fun and innocent time."
Now, for all you ladies out there who have been pining over David the past 25 years, he has a lady friend who puts up with him, so hands off!
David snickered as he was telling me the story. "It's one of those never-can-happen stories. Through an accident via miscommunication, I was put in touch with someone who thought I was someone else saying 'Oh you should talk to this friend of mine.' The numbers got mixed up. So I met this woman over the phone and without even meeting each other in person, we figured out that there was this mix-up. Turns out we enjoyed talking with each other so we continued talking. And we kept talking for like five hours every night. She doesn't live in Los Angeles so I told her about Skype. We really got to know each other from just talking over the internet. Then it was 'Hey, why don't you come out on this weekend and see how it goes? No pressure.' She came out to LA and we ended up having a really great time and that led to me going to visit her. She spent some time in LA over the summer and now I'm visiting her.”
David himself doesn't have any children, but his lady friend does and he's experienced parenting through the eyes of others and enjoys the experience from a different point of view. His best friend, Jay, has a couple of kids who are older now so David has some great memories.
TRIVIA QUOTE from David: “Jay’s son is really into music and I saw a picture of him holding a Fender Stratocaster and I just happened to have a ’57 Strat re-issue given to me byMichael J. Fox that he gave me while making the movie ‘Light of Day.’ So I gave that to Jay’s son.”
What types of jobs did David have when he first moved to Los Angeles? While he was trying to break into acting, he had a job at the local movie theater. Everyone was trying to become an actor so the theater manager was not impressed with David always saying how he's going to be an actor for a living. The time finally came when David landed a role on one of the earlier TV shows like "Fame" or "St. Elsewhere" and he still continued to work at the movie theater. Well, the theater manager sure changed his tune when both shows were on in the same week! Then the point came where David wanted to take his acting career to the next level so he left that job.
David recently finished a movie over the summer withMichael C. Hall and Sarah Silverman called "Peep World." David previously worked with the Director, Barry Blaustein, on a pilot "What's Alan Watching?" in 1989. So be sure to look out for this film to get your dose of David Packer!
David is currently in Colorado working on a project. I asked him if he was enjoying any of the winter sports and he said, “I don't ski because I tend to injure myself when I'm outdoors. However, I like the snow and the environment."
David sent me some pictures of perfect snowflakes on his jacket. What a wonderful way to end a conversation!
Thanks for the call, David! - ilana
NEW - 02/08/10 - What in the universe could DAVID PACKER and Ilana talk about for 2 hours?? Find out when I post about today's amazing phone call! Coming Soon!
David came across my website one day and emailed me! Yes, at first I was skeptic (considering how many emails I get), but by the 2nd email, I knew it was him. I was *so very happy!* when he agreed to let me interview him, and he suggested we do a live chat! Finally, about a week or two later, it happened. Sunday, May 23, 1999 to be exact! After the chat, David called me on the PHONE!!!
David has always been great with the fans. As a matter of fact, back DURING the "V" days, he even called a 13 year old fan on the phone to say hi! Here's Kathi's story! (she's still as big a David Packer fan as ever!)
"It was 1984 and the V saga was in full bloom. I was only 13, but I was the biggest fan of V and David Packer -- probably in the world at the time ( or so it was to me). I was so die hard I wrote to the Starlog editor and requested David Packer's home address so I could write to them and tell them what a huge fan I was. This guy (forgot his name, its been like years ago) gave David Packer my home number and he called me at home!!! My parents answered the phone and couldn't believe it!!! It was so cool!!!"
Meanwhile, David was just getting over a cold and heating up some chicken soup. (yes, CHICKEN, not reptile!)
Here ...we... go!
<Lizard Lady> Hey thanks for agreeing to this...you are totally making a LOT of people's day :) So this is really you, eh?<dave> Yeah. It's me. So that is cool although hard to believe that people would be excited about it
<Lizard Lady> Well, you made a good impression on a lot of people<dave> You are very sweet. Thank you. I like these letters. They are like the banana republic font.
<Lizard Lady> So you're from New Jersey. That's cool. How'd you end up in Calif?<dave> Yeah...NJ. Came out to California in 1982 for the summer and ended up staying...after getting V. <Lizard Lady> So you're what? around 35? <dave> 36
<Lizard Lady> I heard you were on "The Profiler"... but I must've missed that one
<dave> Yeah...i was on The Profiler earlier this year
<Lizard Lady> Sorry I missed it--would be fun to see what you look like now! Considering I still have the image of "Daniel" in my head. So you wanted to be an actor or you just auditioned for the blip of it?<dave> No. I definitely wanted to be an actor. That's why I came out to LA. I had been doing a play in New York and a casting director saw me leaving the theatre and he asked me to come read for this NBC pilot. It was a spin off of The Facts of Life. I did not end up getting that but it was enough to get the attention of this manager and that's how I ended up in L.A.
<Lizard Lady> Guess that was a nice culture shock--getting a part and being shipped off to LA!
<dave> Yes, huge culture shock
<Lizard Lady> I heard rumors that you didn't want to continue with "V"... true or false?<dave> True true true. In retrospect it was a stupid decision. There was no reason in the world to not do it. But at the time I was idealistic and I wanted to do things if they were artistic. I was very unhappy that Ken Johnson was not doing the show, so I wanted out too. Dumb dumb dumb.
<Lizard Lady> Nah, I don't think it was dumb--the tv series wasn't really as good as it could have been<dave> No, the show was terrible. But they would have paid me and I would have owned a house
<Lizard Lady> Do you keep in touch with any of the "V" actors?
<dave> No, not really
<Lizard Lady> You married? <big grin> -- like 50 people asked me to ask you that
<dave> No, not married. Just having fun
<Lizard Lady> hahahah same here... im 30 now. how scary is that ! A fan for 15 years heh
<dave> Yeah...that means you were 15 at the time it was on....yeah, but they accomplished a lot with star trek
<dave> I have to tell you it is really great that so many people are interested in V. I had no idea. Some of the websites are unbelieveable.
<Lizard Lady> Yah, the fan clubs back then were amazing--all snail mail. I get so many emails a day re: "V" --you'd think *I* worked on the show
<dave> Really. How many do you think?
<Lizard Lady> I get about 30 "V" related emails a day from different people everytime
<Lizard Lady> We never really did see Daniel being served for dinner. If they did another "V" would you be remotely interested?<dave> Wow...yeah...absolutely...athough i'm sure they would do it with a new cast...get the fans together and create a convention
<Lizard Lady> There have been "V" conventions... the biggest one was in Calif, but like 10-13 years ago<dave> Yeah, but a while ago right
<Lizard Lady> Some people are talking about making a new one, but today, you have to PAY the actors to come out room and board, airlines, etc... And the more popular conventions aren't interested in "V" anymore cuz they think it won't make them money<dave> Yeah, was that in Anaheim? Or somewhere like that
<Lizard Lady> Yah I think it was in Anaheim.... I was so happy as a kid to go to Calif to that convention, lemme tell ya!
<dave> i think i went to that.
<Lizard Lady> you DID?! ARGH I didn't see you there! The one I went to was called ShadowCon X
<Lizard Lady> So what do you do all day in between jobs? Hobbies?
<dave> I don't remember the name. As far as hobbies...lots of riding mountain bikes around and hanging out with friends.
<Lizard Lady> Do you still have family here in Joisey?
<dave> no...not anymore...moved to LA, Fla and NY state
<Lizard Lady> Regarding "V" do you remember if everyone was assigned a Laser Pistol or you just picked up one every time you had to work? Also, the triggers on the guns didn't really move right?<dave> No, we had our own that were assigned to us. They even had our names inbedded in them. As a matter of fact, some guy e-mailed me a few years ago to say he had my pistol. I also have my uniform, the one from final battle. It has my name or "daniel" written in it. No they didn't move. Just hard plastic [the triggers]
<Lizard Lady> Hehe that's cool! I heard things were taken from the set...I always wanted one of those ship models! So when you audtioned (if you even remember that far back), did you have to read a scene with anyone?
<dave> I read with the casting director for Ken Johnson. The first time I did it, I think I wasn't as good as I could have been. He said..ok, do it again...and I did and then he said..."thats exactly what i meant." Two days later I got the job.
<Lizard Lady> That must've been pretty exciting! Your parents must've been going Nuts!<dave> Thank you. I liked it. The whole V thing was very fun for me because i was a huge star trek fan...so to get to actually be in something like that was really exciting. Especially at 19. <Lizard Lady> I can imagine! So who's idea was it for Daniel to always have a lollipop? <dave> You know, I don't even remember that. Was that in the first or second movie?
<Lizard Lady> The first movie--daniel always had a lollipop
<dave> Wow, I did not remember that. I don't know who came up with that.
<Lizard Lady> You still a star trek fan?<dave> Yes, i still like star trek. <Lizard Lady> Who was your favorite "V" actor to work with? <dave> Well, I liked Michael Durell [Robert Maxwell] a lot. But I was partial to Faye Grant [Julie Parrish]. We were very close while we were making the first movie. <Lizard Lady> Did you used to have a webpage?
<dave> No. I had a fun thing on pac bell once, but it was only for a few weeks.
<Lizard Lady> I think Michael Durrell is a very fine actor--and Faye's awesome. I met her 100's of times. I worked with her husband so she was always on the set--you can imagine how hard it was for me to do my job heheh<dave> Is Faye still happily married?
<Lizard Lady> Yes, Faye's still married and has a 9/10 year old daughter
<Lizard Lady> So you were the youngest on the set, aside from the guy who played "Sean"
<dave> Yup, the kid
<Lizard Lady> Oh you called him "the kid?" hahahehehe
<dave> Well there was Vivica who played Polly and the other younger sister
<Lizard Lady> oh yeah that's right...<dave> You don't have an e-mail adress on Ken Johnson do you?
<Lizard Lady> No, but I have his phone #. You'll get his answering machine-- he calls back.<dave> Can I have that?
<Lizard Lady> Yes..looking it up for you as we speak
<dave> What is he doing these days
<Lizard Lady> Ken? Nothing as far as I know. Jane just talked to him about a month ago. Anything upcoming for you or you relaxing for a while?<dave> Been writing a lot lately. I am talking some time off before beginning rehersal for a play I am doing at the Los Angeles theatre center this summer.
<Lizard Lady> Oh cool!!! Good to see you're still into doing theatre! Which do you enjoy more? TV, movies, or theatre?<dave> I like plays for acting and movies for fun...tv for money <dave> So what did you work with Stephen [Collins--Faye's husband] on?
<Lizard Lady> On a TV show called "Working It Out" for NBC w/ Jane Curtin. My first tv job out of college.
<Lizard Lady> Are you writing a play, or a book...?
<Lizard Lady> That would be GREAT to see your screenplay on the big screen! You just writing it or you want to act in it as well?
<dave> I'm not sure yet. We shall see
<Lizard Lady> Any feel for directing, or you enjoy writing and acting only?
<dave> I directed a play last December. I am very interested in that. Sort of burned out on the acting thing right now.
<Lizard Lady> Yah, Faye and Stephen are cool--they bought me one of those trees in Israel or something for xmas/chanuka back in 1990'ish
<Lizard Lady> How'd you learn to direct? What play was it?<dave> Just from doing it a lot. The play was something called xmas dot com. It was about someone who may or may not be santa claus taking advantage of his position of trust and power and manipulating a girl who is lost and has come to him for help. It was chilling. Then I did one called Bringer of Gifts which was an turf war between a lonely guy and a homeless store santa...
<Lizard Lady> Are there any good "V" behind the scenes stories you have (that you want to tell?)
<dave> I am trying to think and I can't really remember any. But I do have a couple of 8x10 black and white photos of the first day we all rehearsed the original script at the american film institute in 1982. One has Dominique and I reading and the other has me holding a banana and pointing it (the scene where i get out of the pool and pull the gun)
<Lizard Lady> Did you get extra pay for getting wet in that pool scene?<dave> No...and it was cold...but I was wearing a wet suit under it. I think we did that in one take.
<Lizard Lady> I have some "V" bloopers with you in there---with that scene where you killed Ruby. I think your'e in the bloopers--haven't watched them in like 10 years but I got them from Mickey Jones<dave> I liked that scene.
<Lizard Lady> What was so special about that scene?
<dave> Wow... man I wasn't happy with the final battle stuff.
<Lizard Lady> In what ways weren't you happy? In general, the script, or you??
<dave> It was the first time Daniel might cross the line....where the power might take over... In general, the script and me
<Lizard Lady> ...and it did. Why weren't you happy with you? I thought you did a fine job
<dave> Well thank you
<Lizard Lady> Daniel also turned his family in and ratted on Robin's family-- another time he crossed the line with power
<dave> Yeah. But that happened off camera. This was a time you actually saw the flash of humiliation..followed by the realization that he could take action...
<Lizard Lady> Yah--your eyes during that Ruby scene -- were amazing. You can actually "FEEL" Daniel burning up inside with the decision
<Lizard Lady> Out of all your acting jobs over the years, (not directing), which was the best one to work on?
<dave> The most fun was almost heroes, with Chris Farley, Matthew Perry and Christopher Guest.
<Lizard Lady> Ah, I'll have to rent that movie then!
<dave> That was a lot of fun. Unfortunately the movie wasn't very good.
<Lizard Lady> Casting for "V" the movies was amazing, don't you think?
<dave> Yeah...the casting for V was great...why do you think it struck such a chord with you?
<Lizard Lady> Just the fact that the world would stop fighting each other , and come together to fight the aliens...so ironic, peace for war. Plus it had just the right amount of seriousness and action.<dave> That was really the thing "Independence Day" hit upon, huh.
<Lizard Lady> Yah, I only saw ID4 once--too much of a ripoff for me to bother with again
<dave> yeah...well Dean Devlin is smart.
<Lizard Lady> "V" the Original, to me, is one of those GREAT movies like in black and white-- and V:TFB had all that action and adventure, etc.
<dave> Yeah it was amazing to us that NBC did not pick it up after how well it did
<Lizard Lady> Yah well, back then the production costs were "too high" or so they say-- then a year or so later Star Trek: the next generation came out with an even higher budget... so that was upsetting to the fans that they wouldn't continue "V". But "V" the series wasn't all that good--so at least it ended before it got REALLY bad. ID4 would have been a good movie for me...IF I hadn't seen "V" heheh. I think Ken Johnson was way ahead of the times back then... brilliant man
<Lizard Lady> You're one of the few actors that hadn't worked with Ken before "V"... must be a good feeling knowing you got the part without him seeing your other work!
<dave> Oh yeah, you have no idea. Add that to the fact that I really hadn't done much before..just an episode of St. Elsewhere and Fame..and the fact that I did not have to go to network and audition..it was damn cool.
<Lizard Lady> I really can't think of anyone who would have played daniel better than you.
<Lizard Lady> Did you work on "V" every day or just a few days a week?
<dave> Yeah...a few days a week.
<Lizard Lady> Fame must've been fun, eh?
<dave> There ya go.
<Lizard Lady> Do you have any pets?
<dave> No, no pets...
<Lizard Lady> Do you remember any scenes you were in that got cut out of the final thing?
<dave> Hmmm...you know i have a script here somewhere. If I get a second ill dig it out and look
<Lizard Lady> VERY COOL! (man, I feel like im 15 again hehe)<dave> Yey what is your phone number...I would call you if you want ...say hi, easier than typing
<Lizard Lady> I would pass out :)<dave> No you wouldn't
<Lizard Lady> [I give Dave my phone #] if you dont hear me-- i fainted :)
<Lizard Lady> [I hear my phone ringing] utoh.
<Lizard Lady> dying..... still dying.... can't breathe :)
And this is where our phone conversation takes place!
(It all happened so fast after I typed my phone #, that I didn't have a chance to breathe)
As soon as David *laughed*-- he sounded JUST LIKE Daniel. It hit me like a wave.
We had the most amazing phone conversation! David was very easy to talk to, and took a genuine interest in me and the things I had to say. I found out that one of his best friends is Dean Cameron (the guy who played Chainsaw in that movie years ago "Summer School."
When David was 14 he attended his first Science Fiction Convention. That's how he met Kerry O'Quinn, the Starlog editor when the magazine was brand new! And that was the start of a friendly relationship! (which would explain how David heard about that girl Kathi up there).
Being a huge Star Trek fan, David Packer was thrilled when he got a job working on "My Talk Show." (years ago). William Shatner was on the same episode! Dave was so excited, that it was hard for him to "remember" that it was Bill Shatner, not Captain Kirk. I told him that I had that same problem when I was working on "Working It Out"--when Faye Grant would be there, I kept calling her Julie!
About 15 minutes later, I told David I'd have to let him go or I'd be on the phone with him for the next 8 hours! We were still both connected to the Internet, so even after the phone conversation, I was able to chat with him a little--basically praying to Zon that the chat got saved!! And, as you see, it did! THANK YOU DAVID!
If you have a David Packer story you'd like to share on my site, please feel free to send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org !