We had the good fortune of connecting with Bill Oberst Jr. and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bill, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
The most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make? Deciding how important it was to be important. In my business, one’s perceived status is the opener of doors. It can also be the destroyer of souls. I remember a particular red carpet to which I was invited after an Emmy win. It was a bigger event than I’d normally be asked to, and I was feeling prideful and a bit arrogant. Walking into the roped-off area, I passed a gentleman sitting on a piece of cardboard on the sidewalk. He obviously lived on that sidewalk. I saw him. He saw me see him. He asked for nothing, but I felt the impulse to help. Instead, I’m ashamed to say. I walked – no, I strutted – past him into my event. I was on the list. I was behind the velvet rope. He was not. There was enough food there to feed many families. Everyone was hugging. Cameras clicked. I felt sick. Something changed for me that night. Something broke. I realized that I was a lousy celebrity. I thought of quitting, but I love my work. So, instead, I decided to quit trying to be important. No more chasing fame. No more trying to be on anyone’s list. I turned to my family. I turned to what matters. I went to the funeral of my status. Life is funny. Sometimes knowing who you aren’t is the only way to know who you are. I thank God for that red carpet, and for my shame. As an actor, all I have to offer is my soul. For now, at least, it’s in pretty good shape. I hope.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an actor who specializes in playing wounded monsters; macabre, menacing characters with an undercurrent of melancholy. My following is primarily in the international cult and horror film communities, where you’ll find the kindest, gentlest dark souls in all the universe. It’s a tough business, but there’s no substitute for doing what you love. When I was a boy, I climbed trees to howl at the moon, just to see what it felt like. Now, I howl to earn my bread! Learning to accept who and what you are is the secret to a happy life. Monsters are people, too!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d take them to Griffith Park every day.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Los Angeles Mission https://losangelesmission.org/
Other: “Gothic Goodnight” Podcast: https://bill-oberst-jr-gothic-goodnight.captivate.fm/