Corbin Bernsen Talks Religion, Fatherhood

Filed under: Celeb Parents, Celeb News & Interviews

actor corbin bernsen

Corbin Bernsen is a one-man film-making machine. Credit: Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Corbin Bernsen, remember him? He was the charming cad Arnie Becker on "L.A. Law" and starred in movies including "Major League" and "The Dentist."

The actor's latest film, "Rust," which he wrote, directed, produced and stars in, is now available on DVD. Made in the tiny Canadian town of Kipling, "Rust" features hundreds of local townspeople who raised money for the movie about a man grappling with his connection to a higher power.

ParentDish connected with Corbin recently to talk about his father's death, religion and raising four sons.

ParentDish: How did this movie come about?
Corbin Bernsen:
This little town raised the money and stars alongside me; they helped produce and create this film. It's a movie that came together as I began, basically, a quest after my dad passed away. As I sat with his ashes, I started seeking some enlightenment and I thought, "Where is this man now? Heaven or hell? What do I believe in?" It started a quest for me, looking back at faith, my faith and God in this world, and it resulted in this small film.

PD: Do you go to church?
CB:
No. The easiest way to understand it is, I find this interesting philosophical conversation that ultimately it gets you into faith and God. And, in doing so, I see the jagged chaos of the world make a little more sense. It brings a greater purpose. My faith is God and the more I talk and embrace it, I move closer to it. It's a work in progress, always. That is the nature of the relationship for me.

PD: Has making this film changed your life?
CB: I look at things differently now. I recognize the value of time that I have with my youngest, who is 12. The way I treat my wife when I'm at my lows, the way I look at certain people, the concern I have now, versus a distaste or pity for them. I now hope for them to have a better and richer life, rather than make fun.

PD: You have four sons with your wife, Amanda Pays (Oliver, 21, twins Angus and Henry, 18, and Finley, 12). You've made a good living, but still, college for four -- ka-ching.
CB: Yeah, but I'm very fortunate in that I have a good job. I'm able to take care of it. They've also been in private school their whole lives; it's not something that's new to me. Unfortunately, the state of education requires that in certain areas, certainly where I live in L.A., the public school system is inadequate. I believe it requires private education, so I've been in the realm of it. The most important thing for me is that my kids understand the value of it, the work that I have to do so we can afford it.

PD: Do you guilt trip them? I would.
CB: No.

PD: I'm kidding!
CB: To some people it might be a very valid thing. You say it facetiously, but I've seen parenting that operates in that way out of either fear or instilling guilt. It's funny you joke about it, but it's not uncommon for parents to do it to gain control over their kids.

PD: Are you an old-school dad?
CB: Specifically not. One could almost look at me and say, "Wow, you're not very disciplined with your kids." What I don't do is operate and teach with fear. If they want to know about drugs or sex or anything, I simply tell them through my experience and knowledge. This is what I've come up with. I teach them for every option there's an opposite and equal reaction and consequence for all things. You have to live your life knowing that. If you run a red light you could hit a car.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.