Bernard Robichaud Talks American Sunset

The Trailer Park Boys actor stars alongside Corey Haim in this mystery-thriller from director Michael Masucci, available on DVD and Blu-ray now

Canadian actor Bernard Robichaud first made his mark on pop culture history by portraying the gun wielding maniac Cyrus on both the Trailer Park Boys TV show and its two spin-off movies. Now, Bernard can be seen acting opposite the late Corey Haim, who makes his final bow as a leading man in director Michael Masucci's thrilling mystery American Sunset. The movie serves as a great send-off for the beloved Haim, and a showcase for Robichaud, who turns in a damn fine dual performance as a Bounty Hunter/Lawyer.

We recently caught up with Bernard Robichaud, who is now touring Canada under the guise of a drug dealing thug not unlike the Trailer Park Boys' Cyrus, for a one-man comedy showcase. After begging him to bring this stage show to America, where Cyrus and the Sunnyvale gang are currently growing a rabid following, we got Bernard to take a few minutes out of his busy schedule to chat with us about his time spent on set with Corey Haim during the production of American Sunset, and to also give us some background on the movie itself.

Here is our conversation.

In American Sunset, I didn't recognize you right away from your role in Trailer Park Boys. Which is a credit to you as an actor...

Bernard Robichaud: That is a good thing for me, I suppose. I often get the bad guy roles, anyway. The mere fact that someone doesn't recognize me from one role to the next is a good thing. Then there is that mere fact that I have a dual role in American Sunset. You wouldn't look at the guy with the leather jacket on, then see this guy with the suit on, and automatically put two and two together. There are a couple of scenes where I do have a dark jacket on in American Sunset, and a pair of sunglasses, which is as close to Cyrus as I can get. But this character isn't wearing a motorcycle jacket, totting guns.

It's great to see you playing another character. For the past ten years, I have spent quite a bit of time up in Canada, and it seems like you are always on my TV in the hotel room. I've become quite a fan of Cyrus over the years...

Bernard Robichaud: I appreciate that you've enjoyed my character on Trailer Park Boys, and the show itself. It was a great stepping-stone for a lot of us. There is no question.

Michael Masucci, who directed American Sunset, told me that he wasn't familiar with Trailer Park Boys when he had you into audition. He was surprised when you showed up, swarmed by fans wanting your autograph and photo. That had to be a weird experience, going into an audition with a guy who isn't familiar with your past work, who's watching you get mobbed. That might of helped with the audition...

Bernard Robichaud: (Laughs) It wasn't my fault. It was a maritime thing. Its not that you are not recognized...That show is syndicated in so many countries now. I was just overseas, in the UK, for a week. There were a couple of people there that recognized me. It all depends on whether or not you are into the show. Certainly, around the Maritimes, here, there are not a lot of people who watch it, because it's their backyard story. Michael Masucci, coming from New York? I'm not sure, he might be living in Virginia, now...But, I mean, obviously, its not because there are no trailer parks in those areas...It's that Trailer Park Boys is just now starting to gain momentum in the United States. At the time I auditioned for this, it wasn't as popular in the US as it is now. What I find funny is, between my fan pages now, I find that the people who have been with it since the beginning are dropping by the wayside. But what I am picking up on a regular basis is American fans. Which I didn't really have before. Aside from the ones who were getting it off of Pirated DVDs. Some of them were getting it off the satellite dish. But I didn't have that before. Now, it seems like there are a whole lot more people getting involved in it, and watching it. It's interesting that ten years later, or eleven years later, that its still moving right along.

It seems like the show ended right when DirectTv picked it up for stateside broadcast...

Bernard Robichaud: Yeah, that was too bad. I don't know why that was. I am not the guy that makes those decisions. I think it was the type of show that could have run like a Coronation Street. It could have been on for the next twenty years. There was so much that could have been developed with the characters, especially with the amount of characters that they had. It could have gone on indefinitely. I think people would have continued to tune in, to see what we were doing from week to week. It just didn't turn out that way.

Is it completely dead? Or are you guys going to come back for a third movie?

Bernard Robichaud: Oh, I don't know. I am one of the last guys they will notify about that. There are the three main guys, there's the producers, and of course, there is Mike Clattenburg, the genius who started it all. I'd like to think that they'd think of me, if they do another movie, or TV special, or something. But if I say that, it will be the last thing that happens. So I don't plan on those kinds of things. That's the way the industry works.

Did you get involved with American Sunset specifically because it was being shot in Canada?

Bernard Robichaud: I did another movie a number of years ago with Jacqueline Giroux, who wrote and produced this, called Coo Coo Café. I had a lead role in that with Barbara Carrera. She played my girlfriend. Or, rather, love interest. I am not sure if its been out, or developed, or what happened with it, to be honest with you. It happened while Jacqueline was living in Los Angeles. So it would have been a production that you'd have been privy to way before it hit up here. She was from here originally. I did my job. I must have left an impression. She contacted me as soon as she came up to Canada with American Sunset to tell me about the project. She had a couple of films on the go, and American Sunset was the second one. I did one prior to that with her called Blue Seduction. I am pretty sure that one is available on DVD. I starred opposite Billy Zane and Estella Warren.

Most movies that shoot in Canada don't actually take place in Canada. The story here is actually set in Canada...

Bernard Robichaud: Well, I think the movie initially starts out in the US. Then they go to a cottage in Canada. There are a lot of great sites in Canada. You can't consider the dollar rate now. But prior to the last couple of months, the dollar has always been stronger south of the border than it has been here. It usually makes sense. But I am sure they will shoot plenty of other films and TV shows here, just because of the tax credits available. I think they are available anywhere. But its also a matter of finding the right locations. There is a lot more strategy that goes behind it, I'm sure. I am just the actor, and that is how I am involved. I don't have to worry about all of that other stuff that goes on in the background. Most of the time, anyway.

This is Corey Haim's last film. What was it like for you to be involved in this project with him. Were you aware of his earlier movies? Were you a fan, or admirer of his work at all?

Bernard Robichaud: Oh, yeah. I knew who Corey Haim was. I didn't know him personally. But at the time, I picked him up at the airport that first night. I went and got him and his mom. We started from there. I drove him and his mom around for a week before we even started the movie. I would take them wherever they needed to go. We got to know each other pretty well. I think Corey appreciated the fact that I was a straight shooter. That is who I am. There was no BS. It was straight from the hip. I think he appreciated that. That's what we had as a team between he and I, Frank Molina, and the director Michael Masucci. We had a great rapport, which I think comes across in the movie. Michael was a very giving director. He trained as an actor first, so, I think that directors who train as actors first tend to be more giving than others, sometimes. I am not saying that is always the case. I don't want to make a generalization, there. The ones that I have worked with, who have trained as an actor prior to becoming a director, seem to give you a little bit more freedom.

How does the job of having to pick Corey Haim up at the airport fall into your lap? Was that something you volunteered for?

Bernard Robichaud: He was coming in late, and Jacqueline didn't really know the area that well. I had a Cadillac at the time, I thought he and his mom would be comfortable in that. So I volunteered. I said I would go pick him up and make sure he was okay.

What was your impression of this script when you first read American Sunset?

Bernard Robichaud: It was a great script. I like the twists in it. There was not a lot here not to like, to be honest with you. The script itself is pretty solid. There were a couple of small rewrites prior to production. Other than that? I liked it. I thought it was great. I knew I was looking at this role of the Bounty Hunter, as well as Bob. To have that dual role, and make audiences wonder if he is the same guy, or if he is not the same guy who kidnapped her, if he is the guy killing everybody, who knows what's going on? That was a nice little twist at the end for me. To come out with that suit on, and all the other little things that went with that. It was a bonus role, mister!

Would you consider yourself a good guy at the end? Its left a little ambiguous.

Bernard Robichaud: With the lawyer? Its hard to say. I do know some nice lawyers. (Laughs) You know, I think if you are a lawyer, you are doing a job like everyone else and you want to get paid. The way things happen with that profession leaves a sour taste in your mouth. Someone has to lose, right? No matter what, you have you pay out a big pile of money to lose. I am not sure how you look at that. This guy was working for the wife, and I think he was protecting his client. Overall, he had to do what he had to do. I know it comes off, initially, in a scene or two, that Corey's character was pissed off with Bob. At the end of the movie, when he is sitting there trying to explain why he did what he did, and why it happened, that it comes across as though he weren't trying to be a bad guy. He was explaining why he did this. He did it for the corporation. I don't know how many people have a big love going for corporations these days. Maybe that's why it doesn't come across that he is nice. Maybe if he were from the Smith, Smith, and Smith law firm, it would have come across differently. Maybe if it wasn't clear that is my fault.

Are you planning to work with Michael again in the near future? I know he said he had some projects he was currently moving forward on.

Bernard Robichaud: I don't know. He hasn't approached me yet. I would certainly like to work with him again. We do stay in touch with one another. I just got Frank Molina's number the other day. We'd talked about working together on another project prior to when we were at the red carpet for American Sunset. I don't know if Frank still wants to do it. But its something I want to talk to him about. I have a tour in Edmonton next week. I come back, and I have a meeting with another producer about a sitcom that I am writing. That is what I am doing right now. I am hoping that goes. But I would like to talk to Frank Molina, and Michael Masucci again, too. We have a couple of ideas, and I have been working on another treatment that I am doing. I started on that last May. I'd joined a writing course with a friend of mine.

When you say you are touring, what are you touring, exactly?

Bernard Robichaud: I am doing a stand-up show. Its an hourlong stand-up that I perform loosely based on the character that I played on Trailer Park Boys. He's a dumbass drug dealer that has all of the answers. It really talks about the background of this character. Its stuff you would have never known about (Cyrus), but certainly stuff we developed, and we took it from there. We don't talk about the show, or the character as being Cyrus. Though, being honest, its pretty hard to walk down the street with a leather jacket on, and sunglasses, in Canada, and not have people recognize you, "Hey, man, are you Cyrus?"

When are you bringing this to America?

Bernard Robichaud: I would go out there and perform. I think its difficult to get the network together, to find people that want to bring us out there. The three boys are doing fine. But to bring other, more obscure characters out, that may have some notoriety, and that have been followed, and do have a large fanbase, its difficult for us...I would like nothing more than to tour in the United States. I was born there. I am American by birth. I'd like to go down there and tour around, doing a little appearance here or there, or doing some stand-up. But who is the booking agent? How do you find these people? I don't know. You can look on line, and it doesn't tell you anything. Its all about who you know. Unfortunatly, I am not that guy. I wish I were. There are times when I have nothing to do, and I would like nothing better. Not that I am not doing anything. I write a lot. But until those jobs come to fruition, you are hand-to-mouth. If I thought I could have a tour in the US, and I was being promoted, I wouldn't think twice.

I would be there. I love watching you guys.

Bernard Robichaud: Well, hook me up! We'll work out a percentage plan, or something. If you know some people, let them know. I would be more than happy to do something along those lines. I have a booking agent here in Canada, they just don't know anybody south of the border. That is too bad, really. Sometimes the venues they get you into don't recognize anything other than music, anyway. Its hard to sell comedy, unless the promoter or venue owner takes it over and sells tickets on it. Then, it is very difficult to get anywhere. Again, I am just the artists. I don't know any of that stuff. I am not sure I want to know the politics that goes behind a lot of that. I have enough problems traveling to one venue from the other while on tour, and having to rest, and then getting psyched up before I do an hour long stand-up. There is that two hours of wind down time afterwards. That is hard on the body and the mind. Its as hard as doing eight hours on a set. Which can be psychologically draining as well. Because the body and the mind is constantly working to get you in and out of character all of the time. Of course, stand-up, as I have found out, is nothing like doing film, or television, or theater, where I trained. Those are controlled environments. Being in front of an audience that is drinking and having a good time, and who wants to laugh...Being the bad guy, you have to take a pounding sometimes. People are throwing out nasty remarks at you. You have to deal with that. Its totally different. I maintain the character while I am up on stage, but its not easy.

Has Cyrus ever had to pull his gun on somebody?

Bernard Robichaud: I do have a gun that I use. But I usually use it for pictures and promotional materials. I thought about using a gun on stage like the character does. But it would just be my luck that someone didn't really like Cyrus at all. They would then pull out their own gun, and they'd shoot me.

That would be horrible.

Bernard Robichaud: Oops. (Laughs)

Having seen every episode of that show, and knowing the Cyrus character quite well, I don't think I would be able to bad mouth him while he was on stage. He's a scary dude.

Bernard Robichaud: Yes. Its one thing to be a scary guy. Its another thing to have a really fast bullet coming out of a gun at you. I am not sure I am fast enough to dodge that bullet.

American Sunset is available on Blu-ray and DVD, and on Itunes. To buy, CLICK HERE

B. Alan Orange