Corbin Bernsen is known for being a bit of a rascal. Whether he’s portraying smooth-talking lawyer Arnie Becker on “L.A. Law” on TV or Roger Dorn in three “Major League” movies, his presence pops on screen with a mischievous smile and quick wit.
In anticipation of postseason baseball excitement, the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts in Bay Shore is screening, 1989’s “Major League” followed by a Q&A session with Bernsen on Sept. 8.
Newsday spoke to the 64 year-old actor about the staying power of the film, working with 25,000 extras and how he felt the movie gave the Cleveland Indians a boost.
Films come and go all the time. What made “Major League” stick with fans for 29 years?
The film had a solid foundation and a great design. It was executed properly therefore it has legs. This was written and directed by David S. Ward. He’s not a celebrated filmmaker for nothing. Everybody’s character was clearly defined. We truly were a team. This film is one where it all really came together.
What was your approach to portraying pompous player Roger Dorn?
I did have some hesitation about taking the part because I didn’t want to get stuck playing the smarmy guy. It’s not just what I do but the part was too good to turn down.
How do people react to questionable characters like Roger Dorn and Arnie Becker?
They did despicable things but because of their ultimate actions, they rise above it. They are characters people love to hate. They are certainly not villains. Sometimes they become people’s favorite characters because they recognize themselves. Maybe they have had their own transgressions, but they are decent people. I play those characters well because I understand those guys. I have a certain sympathy for them.
What was your relationship with the sport of baseball?
It was my sport in high school, but I wasn’t a great hitter. Dorn was the opposite — he was a great hitter but he can’t field. For a guy like me, this was a dream. I was getting paid to be on a baseball field wearing authentic uniforms. You kind of feel studly.
At Q&As what do people ask you about?
They ask about filming the games. We’d start at like 6 p.m. and shoot until three in the morning. This is back in days before digital stuff. There were 25,000 actual people in the stadium. We’d do giveaways to get them to stay. The big giveaway was a car. It was wild.
What kind of impact did the film have on the actual Cleveland Indians?
Remember they went on to win some titles [The Indians won American League Pennants in 1995, 1997 and 2016 plus Central Division titles 1995-1999, 2001, 2007, 2016 and 2017] . I think the movie created some momentum for the team, which makes sense.
“MAJOR LEAGUE” + Q&A with CORBIN BERNSEN
WHEN/WHERE 7 p.m., Sept. 8, the YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 West Main St. in Bay Shore
INFO 631-969-1101, boultoncenter.org
ADMISSION $30 ($89-$99 for VIP meet and greet opportunities)