Jean-Pierre Bergeron has 65 acting credits to his name, while he’s mostly known in Quebec, Canada, he’s also been a working actor in Hollywood. He holds dual citizenship and the Coachella Valley is his second home. In 2011, he released his short film, Alone With Mr. Carter, and is currently working on his next project, Hitchhiking in the Dark.
Bergeron explained the history of his acting career in Quebec and his latest work in the United States.
“I was putting on plays when I was about 7 or 8,” Bergeron said. “I started working professionally as an actor when I was 16 in Quebec. I’ve acted in memorable films and television shows. I was a guest on the show Alias, Young and the Restless, and American Dreams. I’ve been acting for about 40 years in Quebec playing leads and supporting roles. About 10 years ago, I was in Los Angeles and I was able to make it as a working actor. I’m very proud of that.”
During most of his acting career, Bergeron had been struggling with his homosexuality and he felt terrified to come out as a gay man.
“When I was a teenager, I wrote certain plays where there were homosexual characters. I worked professionally as a playwright for a couple of years and in my twenties, I had 2 plays that were very successful in Quebec. One was called Macho Man about a guy who gets obsessed with himself and looking himself in the mirror all the time. Then, I was already a television personality, and the next logical step was to come out of the media. I was scared and unable to face that emotion. To me, it was like suicide and I didn’t want to face it”
The decision not to write any more plays was something Bergeron had to make in order to conceal his own homosexuality.
“I made the conscious decision as an actor never to write again because every time I wrote, it was about homosexuality. It didn’t make sense to have those plays and not come out. For decades, I stopped thinking of myself as a writer and thought I would never write again.”
10 years ago, he changed his mind.
“Life caught up with me. I had to be honest with myself and the real reason I stopped writing was because of homosexual characters. I decided to change my life. I said to myself, ‘Now you’re going to write, you’re going to write your own projects, and the first one that goes into production, you’re going to come out to the media. I did just that.”
The first thing that went into production was Alone with Mr. Carter.
“That’s where I came out and it was after the first screening. There was a journalist from Quebec who happened to be there and I came out during the Q&A, and that ended up on YouTube. We’re talking 2012, and for me honestly, before I came out, I had no idea that the industry would let me play the roles I normally play. I play a lot of cops, robbers and men who are traditionally masculine. I honestly didn’t know.”
Alone with Mr. Carter ended up being an inspiring moment for Bergeron and his career.
“Alone with Mr. Carter in the world of short films was very successful. That’s one of the things in my life that I’m very proud of. It was successful worldwide and in film festivals. In Quebec, we won Best Short and we got a distribution deal that was international, which is very rare for a short film. Honestly, people kept offering me roles that were the same ones I had been doing. For me, it was a shock. ”
While there are several movies about young kids or teenagers obsessing romantically about their female teachers or another female figure, Alone with Mr. Carter deals with a young boy romantically obsessed with an older man.
“The reason I make these films is I try to fill a gap inside of me. Alone with Mr. Carter is about a 10 year old boy who is secretly obsessed with a 65 year old detective. The film is about the little boy trying to tell him I love and it’s a very legitimate film. The little boy, just like myself when I was a kid, knows that sex would be for later, but still, my point is very simple: There are a lot of films where there’s a little boy who has a crush on an adult woman, and I never found the story when I was a 10 year old boy who was in love with a male adult. I really feel changed as a human being and is that part of my story shameful to be told? No, so that’s why I made the film.”
Through filmmaking, Bergeron found a light within himself and feels that he has a true purpose as being someone who’s been an actor who is also in the position to be a screenwriter and director.
“Making those films heals my shame, and just like everybody, I want to be successful, but the bottom line is that these things give meaning to my life. They gave me a good and deep reason to get up in the morning. It means that I cut down a lot on traveling, sun tanning, and a lot of that, but there’s a price tag to everything and you can’t have it all. When you’re serious about indie filmmaking, it just takes everything and there is no free time.”
He explained a little bit about the premise for Hitchhiking in the Dark. It touches upon some gay history about how relationships were uncommon and it was more about promiscuous sex as sexual liberation.
“I try to tell stories that I feel are missing. Hitchhiking in the Dark is hard for me to say myself is something that’s groundbreaking, but people will see things in the film they have never seen before. It’s takes place in the early ‘60s and it’s about a 13-year-old homosexual who says he’s 100% male but realizes there are many different ways to be a real man. His friend is another 13-year-old and they both know they are homosexuals and they talk about men and all that. It also unveils the world of butch men who have gay sex but can’t deal with it when they find themselves falling in love with someone and they fall apart. I’ve rarely seen this on film. Roy Dupuis is confirmed for the role and he was on the series La Femme Nikita some years back and he’s a very prominent actor. ”
Another subject in the film is related to an issue in the LGBT community.
“It also deals with LGBT suicide. The suicide rate for LGBT teens is much higher even today. Imagine the early ‘60s. We’re connected with a charity that prevents suicide and it’s a very upfront deal.”
Like Alone with Mr. Carter, Hitchhiking in the Dark will not be filmed in the desert. But the desert is a place that Bergeron plans to shoot a film in the future.
“I have 2 projects in different stages of development right now that need to be shot in the desert. That’s hopefully going to happen after Hitchhiking in the Dark. It should be easier to make them happen.”
Find more information on Jean Pierre Bergeron, by clicking his IMDB link.