‘Perfect Strangers’: Tom Cruise Almost Convinced Bronson Pinchot Not to Do TV

Friday nights in the 80s were a fantastic time for gathering around the TV with the family, and unwinding with some really good laughs. ABC’s iconic TGIF line-up was full of memorable shows and hilarious characters. One of those shows was Perfect Strangers.

Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pinchot lit up the screen as cousins Larry and Balki, and audiences loved following their comic adventures in Chicago. One iconic actor almost jinxed that perfect pairing by advising Pinchot to never take a job in television.

‘Perfect Strangers’: The ‘Odd Couple’ of the ’80s

Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker), Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot)
Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker), Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Perfect Strangers was a popular 80s sitcom on ABC. The series followed two completely opposite roommates through years of hilarious adventures and wacky mishaps. 

When the show begins, Larry Appleton was living in his new apartment in Chicago. He had recently moved away from a large family in Wisconsin and was excited to live on his own–until a stranger knocks on his door one day. That stranger, Balki Bartokomous, ends up being a distant cousin from a small Mediterranean island called Mypos. 

Larry is very wary of letting Balki live with him, but eventually the two develop a close friendship. Balki’s eccentric ways regularly drive the neurotic Larry crazy, and audiences greatly enjoyed Balki’s heavy accent and strange customs. The series aired for eight seasons, and was a part of the popular TGIF lineup at one point. 

What did Bronson Pinchot do after ‘Perfect Strangers’?

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Bronson Pinchot may have been all smiles on camera during Perfect Strangers, but off-camera was a different story. He had a serious problem with depression and anxiety.

He didn’t seek help at the time because he was afraid of creating any drama in his personal life, and he also thought maybe that extreme emotion helped him be a better actor. 

He was also involved in a relationship at the time that didn’t help matters. He recalled coming home from the set after a long day, wanting nothing more than to relax and enjoy her company.

He says “I would go home and my then-girlfriend wouldn’t even look up from the TV. I would go home from people screaming and police barricades and then I would go home and my girlfriend at the time wouldn’t even look up.”

The lack of affection from his girlfriend made him spiral further into depression. He had plenty of adoring, obsessed fans, but says he never even considered getting close to any of them. Some even frightened him, acting crazed and too obsessed. 

After the series ended, Pinchot finally sought help from a psychotherapist. He was in his mid-30s, and his therapist was astonished that he’d been living that way for so long. Therapy helped him overcome his issues, and he went on to continue acting, as well as pursuing a hobby–design and renovation. 

He began restoring properties and started his own home makeover show called The Bronson Pinchot Project. The show was on the air for two seasons. He has continued working in entertainment, most recently playing George Hawthorne in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. He also records audiobooks, lending his voice to over 100 books so far. 

Tom Cruise almost convinced him to pursue a movie career instead

In 1984, Pinchot was on the big screen in a scene in Beverly Hills Cop, playing art dealer Serge. He spent less than two minutes in the film, but his performance was so notable that he completely stole the scene. 

Prior to Beverly Hills Cop, Pinchot had been on the big screen in another popular film–Risky Business. It was there that he met the legendary Tom Cruise, who offered him a bit of advice. He knew Pinchot was struggling in the business, and thinking about pursuing television. 

According to Mental Floss, Cruise cautioned Pinchot against taking any television offers. Apparently, he thought it would be the death of his future career in films, and he said “Whatever you do, don’t do it.”

Thankfully for all of us who fell in love with Balki Bartokomous, Pinchot ignored Cruise’s advice and went on to become one of television’s most memorable characters.