Many fans have
had the privilege of meeting David Greenlee and let's
just say that he is as engaging a man as the character of Mouse he
portrayed in Beauty and the Beast - though in a completely different
way. David has been extremely kind and
helpful to Winterfest Online and we are very pleased to present to you
this interview with David. Enjoy.
us a little about yourself in general, your acting background, how you
got started in show business and other work you've done besides Beauty
Well I grew up in
Costa Mesa, California.
count myself lucky to have had South Coast Repertory, a professional
company, in town. I saw my very first ever stage acting there, one of
children’s pieces they called ‘Magic Theater’, and went directly home
a neighborhood Winnie the Pooh show. As I got older I started seeing
plays, at SCR and anywhere I could. Later I trained at SCR and other
When I started working I expected to do commercials but I didn’t get
later. I got my first Union gig on a TV pilot called ‘In Trouble’. My
small. One of the major roles was played by Nancy Cartwright, who later
play my girlfriend on some episodes of Fame, and is now of course an
international superstar as the voice of Bart Simpson. There are three
Unions in the States, that covered one of them. I got my desired Screen
Guild card by doing an educational short film, playing a contestant on
show called ‘Let’s Make A Meal’. I was highly qualified for the job,
been a contestant on ‘Password Plus’ the year before. I won $5,500 with
Merriweather in the Lightning Round, for all you game show fans like
would have gone farther but Peter Marshall was a rotten player - there
that it was endless auditions and jobs. My first real movie never
out! Pilots not picked up! Pilot picked up but not with me! CBS
Playhouses and such.
‘Fame’ was the big
breakthrough show for me, and brought much other work
with it. I did four of the seasons there, and during that time also
back to the beginning, how did you get the role in Beauty and the
Beast? Did you audition specifically for the part of Mouse? Did you
know at the
time that he would be a recurring character?
Yes I auditioned
specifically for the role. I had worked
with George RR Martin and Tom Wright on ‘The New Twilight Zone’ so they
me in. But there were plenty more as well! I did not know it would
my agent thought so!
much background were you given, and how much of "yourself"
went into creating Mouse? How old was Mouse?
Mouse was younger than
he thought of himself. I was older
than he was. Tom and George gave me
some idea of how the character had been conceived,
but as usual most of the information came from the script and the other
behavior. B+B was an exceptional show in that much character detail and
information about the Tunnel world came through the costumes and sets
design elements. All of these designs and the artists who made them
of our story, to the audience and to the actors.
And I can not forget
Koslow, the whole thing was from his mind and while his direct notes
be rare, they were of course always dead on accurate and highly
understand that actors are taught to identify with the character
playing. If this is so, what can you tell us about who Mouse is?
He’s just another
creative kid in the big city, doing what
it takes to get the work done.
did you like about Mouse? What did you dislike about him?
I liked his courage
and loyalty, and his inventiveness. I
would not say I disliked much about him, but I would surely say he had
a lot of
work ahead to be a balanced adult. Jamie scared him, that sort of
progress was being made. What I liked best about him was that he knew
was the exact same thing as the fate of his community.
was it like for you when Beauty and the Beast became a favorite show in
and the fans' interest began?
interest is one thing, but B+B never became a very
popular show in the US.
The ratings were fairly low and most people never saw it. My work on
brought much more attention in public and that remained through most of
Beast times, I was recognized for being on ‘Fame’, not Beast.
The fan interest made me very happy, of course, as it was part of how
on as long as we did with weak numbers! You guys showed the way for
getting another shot.
It took me a while to understand the fan sensation, and it took George
giving a strong pitch to get me to attend my first fan run convention.
it would be fun, and boy was he right.
being recognized as Mouse affect you in any way? And
what was it like to know Mouse was being recognized in 90 countries
I’d been down that
road with ‘Fame’ already, but with B+B
the people who stopped me on the street or whatnot were generally so
kind that it was always just an honor to know they bothered to watch.
The international aspects of big TV are always amazing. They said back
that B+B was very popular in Iraq,
and I think of that now quite often. I’d love to know how the
read! Another thing that I heard that I found fascinating was that it
with young people, teens. That is just so different from the US/Euro
that it intrigued me, but there is not much way to find out details or
things are even true.
the atmosphere like on the sets?
The sets and the
lighting and the costumes made for a working environment
like no other. I came home filthy from that show! But it really made
easy, the fact that everything was so amazing looking. The working
human wise was very welcoming and thoughtful with a nice streak of
you tell us about your first day there?
It makes me panic just
thinking about it. I had not seen the show, and all I
knew was what was in the script and that Linda was Catherine. The first
we shot was the opening group meeting or trial of Mouse. When I arrived
to work like most TV is done, in little chunks, I found that Tom Wright
intended to shoot the whole thing through, in big giant shots. Which
needed to learn my lines! And then the realization that the cast was
with not just wonderful actors but people whom I really respected. I
know Ron was Vincent, and sure did not expect the Beast he brought when
the script! Of course his was better than I had envisioned, but it
whole different level of work was happening here! And then I see that
Dotrice is playing Father, and this is an actor I really looked up to,
certainly did not expect to be working with when I came in that
So Yeah, it was just all of that and James and Armin, the sets, the
the amount of coverage, or different angles we did. The smoke in the
was a near overload experience. Thank goodness for the grace and skill
Wright and George and Ron Koslow, and every actor and crew member
made it through that day. Working with people like that makes it
reach past the fear and get great things done.
you were close to him, did Ron Perlman's makeup look as real as it did
on screen? Did it get in the way of acting opposite him, or did it make
it easier in any
way? Were there any differences in your interactions with him as
actors wearing a "normal" amount of makeup?
The Rick Baker design
applied daily by Margaret Besarra
looked real. Period. Up close or far away. As if Vincent were actual.
did help with the suspension of disbelief part of the work. And of
performance, which set the tone and the bar for all of us with its
passion. When he was in that make up, he was entirely convincing. I
avoided seeing him out of make up for a few episodes- easy to do as he
the chair when it was still dark, hours before us mortals had to show
The differences that come from the make up are technical, in that much
to be taken to properly light his eyes and such. Working with Ron was
treat and a gift and a lesson to me.
was it like working with a raccoon?
Not the smoothest of
the performing critters. I have a family of raccoons
living here at my current home, we see them all the time in the yard or
creek along side the yard. They will stop and chat a bit, and never go
trash cans like raccoons I’ve known in other places. Professional
Tunnel dwellers seemed to wear a lot of layers of clothing. Did that
make it uncomfortably hot under the lights?
Acting is usually a fairly sweaty endeavor under
the best circumstances. Our
lights tended toward the diffused and dim, so that was not really a
do remember suffering along with the rest from the open flame torches
the scenes of celebrating the Winterfest.
uncomfortably hot... we understand that you were actually set on
fire in one episode - by accident. How did that come about?
During the Brothers
episode when the giant map goes crashing down the sparks
from the pyrotechnics fell across me. I was there on the floor, Mouse
out. The clothes got tiny little burn holes all over - the leather
protection as did fire retardant gel that our wise hair dresser, Jo
McCarthy, had thankfully insisted
taking the time to apply to my head and neck. The pants did not fair so
and the burns went down to my briefs, which were riddled with
when I removed them. Richard Pryor once said “when you are on fire and
down the street, people get out of your way” I can add that when you
fire, you will remove all of your clothing in front of a whole crew
even thinking about it. Everyone was very civilized and held the jokes
the next day!
the actors playing characters from Below have much interaction with the
actors playing characters from Above?
Well I suppose you
mean off camera, and yes, although it was like being on
separate shows in some ways. Or on separate shifts, one group coming
other going out, meeting at the time clock, punching in….
Does it surprise you that you're being interviewed because of a
played in a television series which was canceled nearly 20 years ago?
A bit, but tv and
films have a long shelf life these days. I’m just glad it
is a show of quality, and I’m not talking about My Mother the Car or
Same with ‘Fame’, it is a pleasure that these shows are remembered, and
who do remember them in a very nice way.
do you think the show is still remembered and celebrated by the fans
after all these years?
I think the elements
of community and romance, are things we all long for in
real life. Everyone wants to be a Helper and everyone wants a Helper
needed. The notion of a world where that is acknowledged is appealing,
you ever been a part of another project that had this kind of devotion?
“Fame” was very
popular in some places when it was on the air, but nothing
equals B+B for long standing ardent devotion.
Do you ever
hear from anyone else associated with Beauty and the Beast?
Yes some of them, and
through the ‘pipes’ most of them.
is your fondest memory of Beauty and the Beast?
All of that talent in
you have any souvenirs from the show, and if so, what are they?
Over the years most of
it has been auctioned off at conventions! I have a
book of poems from Father’s chamber set that I like having as a
reminder, and a
few other remaining scripts and buttons and such. Stamps in my passport
traveling to the UK or Germany for
conventions are another thing I like- my idea of mementos has always
been a bit
One thing I love having, I just got. Wendy Pini was kind enough to give
original art for page 12 of the graphic novel ‘Night of Beauty’
Mouse, Father, and Vincent. I’m a big fan of Wendy and Richard’s work
is the only piece of ‘memorabilia’ from my own career that I have ever
displayed in my home. It is a very cool thing, and a real conversation
It looks great!
you watched any of the episodes of BATB? Have you watched them all?
No I have not seen all
of them. I saw ‘Shades of Grey’ when it first aired
with some friends. I actually tried not to see the show while we made
much. Over time I have seen most of them, and I’ve seen a couple since
have come out and really enjoyed them and felt very proud to be in them.
you have a favorite episode among those you starred in? If you do, what
makes it your favorite?
“We have a tie, three
way. “Shades’ for being first and for having nice
scenes with Linda, who I had known for a while but never acted with.
and “Dead of Winter” for the community life of the world below. And all
for the gorgeous cast to play with, such a treat.
What was it
like to speak in mostly one-liners, though some of them were
I loved that aspect of
Mouse’s character. It posed a challenge in terms of
clarity and precision, just the sort of thing actors like to do, the
thing that is usually reserved for the live stage.
Do you have any favorite quotes from the show?
Too many to mention
actually, but I am very fond of Father’s Winterfest
you attended many Beauty and the Beast conventions? Do you have
memories of them that you would like to share?
I have been to many
conventions, in the U.S.,
Canada, the U.K. and Germany. I’ve always enjoyed the
events. My first one was in Philadelphia.
My first fan run convention was in Dallas - that
one was very fun indeed. Perhaps too much fun.
done quite a bit of television work. Was your time on BATB special,
or did it affect your life in any way?
BATB was a very
special time of my life, and I value the memories very much.
has been the high point
of your career?
Not a single event but
many. The high point is always the amazing people
I get to meet, and
even work with, from all walks of life. This is a treat beyond compare.
Chatting with Arthur C. Clarke is a good example of a high point I
think. Or sharing a stage
you accomplished, as an actor, what you set out to do?
At times. In terms of
career goals achieved generally yes. In terms of quality
of the work and the results of that work, at times.
are you doing currently?Is there anything else you would like to tell
our readers about you, Beauty and the Beast or Beauty and the Beast
At this time I am not
pursuing acting work. I’m doing some
writing and attending to health issues, and taking care of family stuff.