UMC grad and Newman lookalike stars as
young Butch Cassidy
By R.C. Staab/Tribune staff
Columbia Daily Tribune
Sunday, June 24, 1979
When a young actor is teetering on the brink of stardom, one expects him to be eager for any press or public attention. Not so with Tom Moore, a University of Missouri-Columbia theatre department graduate and an up-and-coming film actor. He's keeping a tight lip on any interviews.
Moore, who changed his last name to Berenger, is starring in "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" in which he reprises the role created by Paul Newman. That's not all Berenger and Newman share in common: even from his university days, people noticed his uncanny resemblance to Newman.
Professor Larry Clark of the university's speech and dramatic arts department says that during Berenger's days in Columbia from 1967 to 1971, people often would stop him on the street to ask if he was related to Newman. Originally a radio, television and film major, Berenger switched to theater after his initial stage appearance in the 1969 production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." The department entered the play in the American College Theatre Festival.
"When we first started the play, he probably would have come in fourth out of the four actors," Clark says. "By the time of the festival, he had made an amazing amount of improvement."
Despite the below-zero weather that night at the University of Iowa, Clark says people could feel the electricity in the air. The play finished as the alternate selection for national competition.
Berenger was involved mostly in Studio Theatre projects while at the university. Like many others before him, he headed for the lights of Broadway after receiving his bachelor of arts degree in 1971. In New York, he landed a role in the soap opera, "Love of Life" while continuing to act in off-Broadway productions.
His first film role was that of the demented killer in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar, " in which he knifes Diane Keaton in the final scene. Clark says Berenger was "awfully good" in that role, but frankly admits he didn't much like Berenger's first leading role in the Canadian film "In Praise of Older Women," a soft pornographic movie with Karen Black.
Now Berenger is hot property with his charming performance as the young Butch in "Butch and Sundance." Clark says that while the role is a definite boost to Berengers's career, his resemblance to Newman could limit the roles offered to him. Newman was said to resemble Marlon Brando and had to fight that image throughout the 50's.
Berenger's next project, which is destined to garner even more attention, is a television miniseries due out this fall about a lower-class kid who ventures into the world of professional boxing.
Berenger better watch out. Like it or not, he may end up on the cover of People magazine.
Thanks to Marie K.