'The Big Chill' turns 30: Tom Berenger says 'It sort of bookends with 'The Graduate''

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Tom Berenger may not be in touch with his peers from "The Big Chill" all the time, but they remain in his mind and heart.

Thirty years ago, the actor teamed with other then-rising stars -- including Glenn Close , William Hurt, Kevin Kline and Jeff Goldblum -- in director and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan's Motown-scored comedy-drama about college friends drawn back together to mourn a suicidal peer (played by Kevin Costner, who went unseen in the version ultimately released).

"I kind of did a little bit afterwards," the friendly Berenger tells Zap2it of maintaining contact with fellow cast members from the modern classic that cast him as television star Sam Weber, magazine-cover famous for playing "Magnum, P.I."-like action hero J.T. Lancer.

"I remember getting together with Bill Hurt in New York a couple of times, and there were phone calls after that. And of course, I ran into just about everybody again when we did a magazine shoot, though Kevin Kline wasn't there. Though that movie is about a funeral, it's really about a reunion, and it does have its comic moments for sure."

It also has an enduring effect, as fans reaffirm to Berenger on a near-daily basis. "It sort of bookends with 'The Graduate' for a lot of people," observes the performer whose resume of memorable movies also includes "Platoon," "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" and "Major League."

(Note to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment: Wouldn't this be an appropriate year for a way-overdue "Big Chill" Blu-ray edition? And while you're at it ... "Tootsie," too, please.)

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An Emmy winner for his work opposite fellow recipient Costner in last year's History Channel miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys," Berenger -- who got his professional start on the serial "One Life to Live" -- returns to TV for a guest arc as Captain Sharon Raydor's ( Mary McDonnell) estranged husband on TNT's "Major Crimes" starting Monday, July 8.

"Boy, all I remember is doing tons and tons of dialogue," Berenger chuckles of the "One Life to Live" days he shared in the early 1970s with another star-to-be, Tommy Lee Jones.

"After dinner, I would study, then I'd get up in the morning early and be on it again while I was having breakfast. Then I'd take the train from Queens into Manhattan and grind through it again there. And then I'd just talk and talk and talk all day. And you'd have to be finished by a certain time, because they needed the cameras for the news at 6."
Photo/Video credit: Columbia Pictures/Getty Images
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