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Barry Bostwick Dishes On 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' & Acting

After playing Brad in the 1975 movie, the actor is an authority on the iconic story

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Actor Barry Bostwick with the cast of The Rocky Horror Show. Photo by Bob Toy.

After the May 12 performance of the School of Acting’s The Rocky Horror Show, a very special guest took the stage to answer questions from members of the cast and audience. Barry Bostwick—who played innocent and geeky Brad in the 1975 movie based on the Broadway musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show—spent an hour dishing on what it was like to be part of the iconic film, dispensing acting advice and cracking up the crowd with his quick wit and self-deprecating humor.

Before the Q&A session, Bostwick joined School of Acting Executive Director Diane Baker to watch the show. “He was blown away by the students’ performance,” said Baker, who has been friends with Bostwick since they worked together on A Woman of Substance, a mini-series she produced 25 years ago. “As soon as I knew we were doing The Rocky Horror Show, I knew we had to invite Barry to see it. He’s a great actor and a lovely, down-to-earth person. The students were so excited about his visit and he was so proud of them.”

 After Baker introduced the actor, he praised the cast before answering questions. “I’ve seen a lot of shadow casts do the show, and they’re great,” said Bostwick, whose work includes the hit TV series Spin City and the lead role of Danny in the original Broadway version of Grease. “But they don’t really do what you guys do. They don’t make it come alive—you did and you were just wonderful. I thank you for having me, and it’s an honor to be here tonight.”

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Barry Bostwick answers questions during the post-show Q&A session. Photo by Bob Toy.

When asked if he was shocked by the success of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bostwick admitted he was. “It was a complete surprise for all of us involved,” he remarked. “These sorts of cult movies didn’t exist back then. Fans didn’t discover a film and make it their life like they did with this movie.”

He added that he understands why the film struck a chord with viewers and continues to be popular today. “It’s really fun to perform, the music’s great and the themes are far-reaching and very important,” he said. “I think it will be around forever.”

Bostwick enjoys interacting with the movie’s fans at various events. “I’m their Uncle Barry,” he joked. “I try not to be the creepy Uncle Barry.” 

He said he couldn’t be prouder of the work he and the rest of the crew did on the film, and what it did to bring awareness to issues such as sexual preferences that weren’t openly discussed at the time. “It’s about people just learning to be who they are, and what they want to be, and how they want to be it,” he explained. “The movie provided a community where so many people came together and made lifelong friends. It’s also a cautionary tale about the dangers of excess.”

Bostwick remains close to many of the people he worked with on The Rocky Horror Picture Show, including Richard O’Brien, who wrote the play and co-wrote the screenplay for the film.

He called O’Brien a genius and one of the most extraordinary people he’s ever met. Bostwick was equally complimentary of Tim Curry, who played Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the movie and will narrate a new adaptation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for Fox TV. 

When asked what advice he had for young actors, Bostwick urged them to focus on learning their lines and being present in the moment. “Learning your lines without having a preconceived way of doing it each time is the most important—and I think the hardest—thing to do,” he remarked.

He also encouraged the students to believe in themselves, ignore criticism and cultivate hobbies and interests outside of acting. “Don’t try to live an actor’s life,” he said. “Just live a person’s life, because that’s what you bring to a role—your own soul, your own experience, your own looks, your own voice.”

Clark Houston Lewis, School of Acting instructor and director of The Rocky Horror Show, greatly appreciated Bostwick’s appearance. “I thought it was wonderful that he made it a point to speak to many cast members one-on-one and tell them how exciting he found their work. And he was thrilled that we were able to pull some new surprises out of the story, too. The students are very grateful to Diane Baker for making his visit possible.”