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A hard act to follow

PUBLISHED: 17:13 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 17:13 16 August 2010

WHETHER he is remembered most for playing the cocky cadet Carey Mahoney in the Police Academy franchise, as a bachelor thrust into fatherhood in comedy

WHETHER he is remembered most for playing the cocky cadet Carey Mahoney in the Police Academy franchise, as a bachelor thrust into fatherhood in comedy Three Men and a Baby or alongside the robot Johnny Five in Short Circuit, actor Steve Guttenberg is as synonymous with the 1980s as Aerobies, Soda Stream and Thundercats.

Now a new generation of kids are getting the chance to experience 'The Goot' in the flesh as he prepares to take on the role of Baron Hardup in the Churchill Theatre's Christmas panto Cinderella.

"I think it's going to be great fun," he enthuses. "It's a great honour to be asked as an American to play panto.

"It's just good fun. It's Christmas time, so it's time for everyone to have fun and bring the kids and forget some of the troubles that are going on in our world.

"My character is quite challenging and I hope to do a great job.

"I'm the first American in history to play the character.

"I think it's a lot of work but I can do it, I can do it, I can do it."

Despite being the only American in the cast the actor says he isn't worried about adapting to the British sense of humour.

"What British sense of humour?" he deadpans. "Here's what I have found after travelling all over the world: everybody is the same. Americans, English, Japanese, people from Ghana, everybody wants to laugh.

A mother in Lebanon and a mother in Dallas, Texas and a mother in Bromley. They are all the same, the mechanics are the same.

"We are all the same. We want to be happy, we want to be healthy, we want our family and friends to be happy and healthy, we want our kids to go to Disneyland.

"The illusion is that we are different. Politics creates differences. Religions which are responsible for all the wars in the world make us different but the truth is we are all the same."

Guttenberg was born to Jewish parents in Brooklyn, New York, in 1958.

He took to acting at an early age and trained at the world renowned performing arts school Julliard in New York .

After graduating he carved out a successful theatre career appearing in a series of productions in Broadway and London's West End and went on to star in a number of TV series and minor Hollywood films.

His big break came in 1984 when he was cast as Carey Mahoney in the now cult film franchise Police Academy and it is for this and his work in other classics from the '80s that he is best known.

To celebrate Guttenberg's appearance in Cinderella The Churchill Theatre arranged a special free screening of the first Police Academy film at the Empire Cinema in Bromley, introduced by the man himself and, while the actor says he would rather look to the future than dwell on past successes, he is refreshingly uncynical about the films that made his name.

"It's a huge cult," he admitted. "I'm very, very lucky I have had so many movies that have been popular.

"I was lucky with Cocoon and Short Circuit, there's a movie called Diner, Through the Bedroom Window and of course Police Academy and Three Men and a Baby.

"There were some television things that people know me from so I have been lucky. I have had a lot of movies and televisions shows that people have liked.

"Everyone always knows a few of the things I have done. I'm an artist, I paint, and sometimes people like my paintings and sometimes they don't.

"It's not like being a neurosurgeon where every operation has to be a success."

l Steve Guttenberg appears in Cinderella at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley. For more information or tickets call the box office on 0870 060 6620.

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