Previously Known For: As Peter Shepherd in Jumanji, Peter Lender in The Borrowers and as the voice of Chip in Beauty and the Beast
|Currently Known For: Co-founder of Pierce & Luna cocktail community and co-owner of ZFO Entertainment|
“I was diagnosed with depression when I was 16, a few years after I filmed Jumanji, and I’ve been secretly fighting it for a long time…” Making his grand entrance into the world on October 23, 1982, Bradley Michael Pierce spent the first six years of his life in Glendale, Arizona before his parents headed west to follow their son’s greatest dream—to see his name in lights in Hollywood. Despite his newness to the industry, Pierce showed great promise and snagged his first recurring role at eight years old when he was cast as Andrew Shawn Donovan on the popular daytime drama, Days of Our Lives, from 1990 to 1991. During his time on the show, he honed his talents with credits in television films like Too Young to Die and Casey’s Gift: For Love of a Child as well as in series like Life Goes On.
Quickly learning the ropes of the industry, Pierce caught a huge break in 1991 when he caught the attention of the Disney franchise and was asked to voice Chip in Disney’s newest romantic tale, Beauty and the Beast. The film was a huge success and grossed over $425 million at box offices worldwide while taking home a Golden Globe Award, not to mention becoming the first animated film ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Needless to say, Pierce’s career was on fire as he made appearances in popular television series like Beverly Hills 90210, Roseanne, Herman’s Head, Shaky Ground, Mad About You and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman while lending his voice to characters in The Pink Panther, Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Little Mermaid television series. Along the way, he starred in a string of television films including The Yarn Princess, Dead Man’s Revenge, Children of the Dark and Cries from the Heart.
In 1995, things took an even bigger turn when Pierce joined Kirsten Dunst and the talented Robin Williams in Jumanji, a fantasy adventure that grossed over $260 million at box offices worldwide. For the 13-year-old Pierce, the experience was unforgettable as he forged bonds with Dunst and Williams on the set of what was later dubbed the most anticipated film of the year. “I won’t say I didn’t have a crush on Kirsten,” Pierce admitted. “She’s only about six months older than me, but she had done more film projects than I had. It was nice to have a friend my age to give me guidance. She gave me tips on how to keep your energy up so you’re ready to film the next scene without being so rambunctious that it’s unprofessional.”
Of course, working with the legendary Robin Williams was an even bigger treat for Pierce who, after Williams’ tragic death in 2014, shared his memories from the set as well as his own lifelong battle with depression. “It was three and a half hours of makeup application every day for almost 70 days and as a 12-year-old boy, sitting still for longer than five minutes can be challenging. But, one day early in the shoot, Robin sat in one of the makeup chairs next to me to keep me company and give me tips on how to get through the application process because he had done it on Mrs. Doubtfire. He was incredibly kind and generous with his time, energy and wisdom,” Pierce recalled.
Getting to know the man behind the character, Pierce spent a lot of time with Williams and his son, often taking trips to the local aquarium or zoo. “It was great to see him as a dad and a friend rather than just a comedian,” Pierce said. “Robin gave the cast hard-bound copies of the script as wrap gifts, and he signed them. He wrote something like this, ‘You were a great monkey boy and a pleasure to work with. You have a bright future ahead.’’ He was very much an inspiration, not just as a performer, but as a person.”
Taking that inspiration with him as he appeared in television films and series like The Big Hunt, The Home Court and Amanda, Pierce joined John Goodman in the 1997 film, The Borrowers, and spent the rest of the decade earning credits in Profiler, Star Trek: Voyager and Chicken Soup for the Soul before turning his attention back to voice acting. Obviously finding his niche, he spent the next decade lending his voice to a variety of characters in video games, television series and films like The Wild Thornberrys, Peter Pan II: Return to Neverland, The Cat Returns, Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, Kingdom Hearts II, Peter Pan, and Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix.
Amid his growing success behind the scenes, Pierce’s personal life also blossomed as he married Shari Holmes in 2005 and started a family. Adding three children to the mix, Pierce’s professional interests also expanded as he teamed up with his longtime friend and fellow actor, J. Paul Zimmerman, to launch a new company called ZFO Entertainment, a press and media outlet that also produces short film content like In Good Faith and Blind.
Pierce and Zimmerman released their first short film, Vultures, in late 2016 as Pierce divorced his wife and announced his return to the silver screen in 2017 in Deacon. He also co-founded the Pierce & Luna cocktail company with Bella Luna and has set his sights on a new passion—bartending for high-end clients. That’s right, the former Jumanji star has uncovered a hidden talent for bartending and provides bartending and consultation services for elite parties where he and his team create specialty cocktails for various events and festivals. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Apart from his bartending gig, ZFO Entertainment and his busy life a single father of three, the 35-year-old Pierce surprised fans when he refrained from reprising his role in the 2017 Jumanji just three years after Williams’ death in 2014. “At this point, it’s a little bit greedy, maybe a little insensitive,” he said. Doing his best to remain supportive of the project, Pierce might not be an A-list actor in Hollywood these days but he’s doing his best to share his experience and the legacy Williams left especially on his own battle with depression. “I’ve been secretly fighting depression for a long time,” he says. “I have a few close friends who know about it, but I really played it close to the vest until Robin died actually and then I decided, ‘You know what, I’m going to go ahead and try to use his death and the tragedy that it was to open up to people and put it out there,’ and so I did.” We can’t help but think his former friend and costar would be incredibly proud.