Berenger Takes His Show on the Road

Award-winning actor Tom Berenger has quietly lived among Lowcountry locals throughout his storied career. Now, he’s heading out on the highway in an ultra-luxe RV for a taste of the nomadic life. 

There’s an unspoken, but nearly universally accepted, rule that pervades the culture in and around Hilton Head Island. It has to do with a certain resident, one who has quietly lived in the area since 1985 while amassing a legendary career in movies. The rule is if you see Tom Berenger while you’re out and about — and you will — just be cool. He’s just another resident. You know, your typical Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning local.

But if you happen to break that rule, don’t worry. Despite the range of hard-boiled characters he’s played, from “Platoon’s” dangerously unhinged Sgt. Barnes to “Hatfield & McCoy’s” boozed-up wild man Jim Vance, Tom Berenger is disarmingly amiable.

“It’s not bad,” he said of his occasional fan encounters. “You say hi, they usually want a photo…. It might be worse somewhere else, but I’ve been here a while. I’m not news, really.”

Berenger found himself drawn the area after filming 1983’s “The Big Chill” in Beaufort, saying, “I kind of fell in love with Beaufort. I just thought it was magical. It was small and quiet.” Since then, he’s become a fixture of the Lowcountry. Even if he’s rarely in one place long enough to set down roots.

"I kind of fell in love with Beaufort.
I just thought it was magical."

“I was just up in Vancouver, (filming) Sniper 20 or whatever it is. I don’t know… it’s seven or eight,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh (for the record, it’s part 6). The working trip up to Vancouver was the latest in a chain of sabbaticals from the solitude of South Carolina that have taken him all over the world. And with each trip, another film gets added to a cinematic legacy that includes films like “Major League,” “Eddie and the Cruisers,” “Inception,” “Sliver,” “Gettysburg,” and, as mentioned, a whole lot of “Sniper” films. “One year I had four (movies) back-to-back and it was insane.”

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