Today I’m welcoming actor, Robert John Burke. Thank you, Bobby for stopping by!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am frighteningly ordinary.
How did you get into the career of acting?
I got into acting through an experimental acting class in my high school. It also offered an internship with the professional equity acting company. Then it was onto college, where I attended the acting conservatory at SUNY purchase.
In one of your earlier films, you played the role of the well-known character of Alex Murphy in RoboCop 3. What was it like playing the part of a cyborg?
It was very daunting playing RoboCop three. I thought Peter Weller did such an amazing job that it should have been left alone. No Peter no sequel. I was resistant for about eight months and then I finally acquiesced. The physical demands of the role were great. It involved movement training with a man named Moni Yakin, who had also worked with Peter. He is a teacher at the Juilliard school and he’s amazing. I think if I did anything at all right in that role, I owe it to him.
In the horror film titled, Thinner, (that was based on Stephen King’s novel) you portrayed the main character of Billy Halleck. Tell us about that and did you encounter any challenges in playing such a diverse role?
Thinner was the ultimate role for me to play. Getting to hide under five hours of make up should excite any actor. But the schedule was pretty grueling. I would get in the make up chair at 2 o’clock in the morning to be ready to start shooting at 7 AM. Then shoot to about 10 PM in the evening.
I was a little disappointed with the way the film turned out. There were lots of different directions that people were pulling it in. Although I must say, quite a few people really enjoyed that film. Meeting Stephen King was a complete thrill.
Your other on-screen accomplishments include Limitless, 2 Guns, Safe and Dust Devil, just to name a few. Aside from your films, you’re also on the t.v. series: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Allegiance, Banshee, Nurse Jackie, Army Wives, and Rescue Me… (the impressive list goes on)… How do you maintain such a balanced schedule?
On paper it can look like I’m doing a lot of different projects. The reality is that I lead a very balanced life. There were times when I was doing two and three television shows at a time. But somehow it was always manageable. And to tell you the truth, it keeps things interesting that are a hell of a lot of fun.
Is there any one role that you find in particular to be your absolute favorite?
People ask you what’s the most fun or is there any one role that you find to be your favorite. I think there are several for different reasons. I’ve met a lot of really amazing people on all the productions I’ve been on. Got to travel to exotic and beautiful places. The work I’m most proud of is probably the work that the least amount of people have seen. Films like First Love Last Rites, The Unbelievable Truth, and No Such Thing, are among my favorites.
Aside from being an actor, you’re also a NY State Certified Firefighter. You helped with the rescue efforts during 9/11, mind telling everyone about that?
My best friend was in FDNY, captain named Patrick J. Brown. He fell on 9/11/01. Because all of Long Island New York is voluntary fire service, I decided to join my local department and dedicate my service to his memory. It’s been 16 years. I think I missed my True calling.
What’s next for Robert John Burke?
I’ve taken some time off recently but I’m also developing several projects and working hard on them.
Where can fans follow you and your work?
I don’t really have a website or anything like that. Sometimes I’ll post pictures of a particular project I’m working on on social media. Certain shows I’ve been on, particularly SVU have legions of very loyal enthusiastic fans. So I treat them with great respect and try and post stuff that keeps them in the loop.
Any positive words of advice you’d like to share?
I rarely give advice. But I do make suggestions. I suggest people remember to be kind to each other. And I say remember because people forget. I have a coffee mug that says “be kind” on it. It reminds me because I don’t ever want to forget to extend even the smallest gesture to another person that could mean a great deal to that person at that moment. If we take care of the little stuff, the big stuff takes care of itself.