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William Oberst Jr. (born November 21, 1965) is an American stage, film and television actor of German descent.[1] Known for his work in horror and cult films, his career includes projects in film, television and one-man-show theater performances.[2] He first received recognition for his portrayals of icon and humorist Lewis Grizzard as performed in theatrical tours across the Southern United States.[3] His role as the creepy 'Facebook Stalker' in the online interactive video film Take This Lollipop, which uses the Facebook Connect application to bring viewers themselves into the film through use of their own pictures and messages from Facebook,[4][5][6] brought him widespread attention after the project received multiple Webby Awards nominations,[7] three awards at SXSW,[8] and a 2012 Daytime Emmy Award.[9][10]

Bill Oberst Jr.
Bill Oberst Jr., October 28, 2011.jpg
Bill Oberst Jr., October 2011
Born William Oberst Jr.
(1965-11-21) November 21, 1965 (age 52)
South Carolina, United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 1994 - present
Website www.billoberstjr.com

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Oberst Jr. was born and raised in Georgetown, South Carolina,[11] and is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.[1] He is a native of Pawleys Island, South Carolina and lives and works in Los Angeles, California.[12]

Oberst admits to having been a "fat kid" when young[1] and says he "started doing imitations of my teachers to entertain the kids who picked on me… They couldn't hit me if they were laughing."[12] This led to his growing up to become an actor and mimic known for bringing historic figures to life.[12]

CareerEdit

Oberst has received attention for his many theatrical portrayals of historical figures, including Jesus,[1] Mark Twain,[13][14][15] Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy.[1][16]

Beginning in 1994, and continuing through 2004, Oberst portrayed Jesus in Jesus of Nazareth.[17] Overlapping, and for the five years from 1996 through 2004, he played John F. Kennedy in the one man show JFK.[18] Iconic historical figures who are revered or demonized by history draw Oberst's interest as an actor.[11] Oberst had also created the one man show Stand Up! When Comedy Was Funny where he featured the classic comedy routines of Rodney Dangerfield, Bob Newhart, Woody Allen and Moms Mabley.[19]

He was chosen by Lewis Grizzard's widow Dedra and the former manager Steve Enoch to portray the southern icon, and since 1999 has been portraying Grizzard with the touring production that has continued for over 10 years under several names: A Tribute To Lewis Grizzard, Lewis Grizzard Returns, and Lewis Grizzard: In His Own Words.[16][20][21][22][23][24][25]

In 2006, Oberst began his career in film and television career. Since 2008, he has appeared in over 100 independent film and television projects.[26]

RecognitionEdit

TheaterEdit

After his very first performance as Kennedy in 1996, a woman from the audience, who identified herself as having served as a secretary in The White House during the Kennedy administration, told Oberst his characterization "made her grieve for the first time in 30 years."[1] Of Oberst's seasonal and one-man interpretation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, where he creates and plays a dozen different characters in a 45-minute "abridged" version, Kathyrn Martin of The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) wrote that in his shorter interpretation Oberst "focuses on the character of Scrooge and, more subtly, the craftsmanship of the original literary work," and "Oberst is a superb actor with an appreciation for both language and history."[27] Though skilled at bringing many characters to life, Oberst's years portraying Grizzard have received the greatest attention: reviewer Jeff Johnson of Charleston's Post and Courier praised Oberst's performance as "an uncanny impersonation;"[28] Alec Harvey of The Birmingham News also felt that his impersonation was impressive: "Oberst, for all intents and purposes, is Grizzard in the show," and he "brings back to life one of the most beloved Southern writers of the 20th century,"[29] and Tanya Perez-Brennan of The Florida Times-Union reported that "throughout the performance, Oberst had a commanding stage presence".[30]

Film and televisionEdit

Oberst brings this same attention to character detail to television and film. Regarding his portrayal of General William T. Sherman in the History Channel's 2007 Sherman's March,[31] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, alluding to Oberst's prior fame playing Lewis Grizzard, "Could it be? Lewis Grizzard burning Atlanta?"[32] Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal noted that the docudrama "owes much to the flinty authority of William Oberst Jr., splendid in the role of Sherman."[33] Of his role in Dogs of Chinatown (2008) as Vitario, the mob's second in command, Kung Fu Cinema wrote "[Oberst] is the film's best actor and with his unique looks I can see him carving out a successful dramatic career in Hollywood as a heavy, something he seems to be doing with roles in a couple upcoming horror films."[34]

For Oberst's portrayal as Dale, the slightly "off" backwoods swamp-dwelling Ranger in Dismal (2008), reviewer Dustin Hall of Brutal As Hell wrote, "Something everyone can appreciate is the performance by Bill Oberst Jr. as Dale, who has great screen presence as the patriarch of the flesh-eating family. Only two years into his film career, Bill's played a variety of business and small-town sheriff types, now he lends a malicious glee and a disturbing, penetrating stare to Dismal to surprising effect",[35] and Duane L. Martin of Rogue Cinema wrote, "I don't even know how to describe how great [Oberst] was at bringing just the right personality and intensity to the role. He was the quintessential swamp rat, but at the same time, he was much more than that. The mannerisms and personality he brought to the role made the character memorable. So many times in films like this, these types of characters are just generic and forgettable, but when I look back on this film now, his character is the one that stands out to me the most."[36]

In 2011 Oberst played the creepy "Facebook Stalker" in the online film Take This Lollipop, an interactive video which uses the Facebook Connect application to bring viewers themselves into the film though use of their own pictures and information posted to Facebook, and which underscores the danger when one posts too much personal information online. In describing the opening sequences, CNN wrote "A sweaty, wild-eyed man in a stained undershirt hunches over his computer in a shadowy basement. He's broken into your Facebook account and is reading your posts as his dirty, cracked fingernails paw at the keyboard. Rage (jealousy? hate?) builds as he flips through your photos and scrolls through your list of friends. He rocks back and forth, growing more agitated as the pages flash past. Then he consults a map of your city and heads to his car."[5] Ad Age praised Oberst's portrayal of a "sweat-covered, mouse-rubbing" stalker by writing that Oberst "gives Hannibal Lecter a run for his money."[37]

The 2012 B-Movie Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, was widely panned (as is most films by The Asylum). However, most critics praised Oberst's portrayal of President Lincoln, citing it as one of the best performances ever given in an independent horror movie: Dread Central reviewer Matt Serafini wrote, "If there existed an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a B-Movie, this year's winner would easily be Bill Oberst, Jr., for his outstanding portrayal of our 16th President... it is certainly the closest thing to an award caliber performance you'll probably ever see in a movie produced by The Asylum",[38] while JoBlo's Jason Adams wrote "Oberst is legitimately great in the role and his presidential chops suggest he could actually play Lincoln in a biopic that didn't involve dismembering heads every five minutes",[39] and CHUD.com's Jared Rasic wrote that Oberst's "Lincoln is powerful, noble and pretty damn badass with a scythe", expanding "Bill Oberst Jr. is a film saver. Each role of his I've seen, he always completely commits to the performance, whether he's playing a redneck cannibal, a cyber stalker or the 16th President of the United States... Oberst Jr. is on the cusp of becoming a very known quantity and has a very good chance at becoming America's next boogeyman".[40]

The 2012 Shockfest Film Festival in Hollywood, CA featured the Shocker Awards. Jourdan McClure's Children of Sorrow won 'Best Film' and Bill Oberst Jr. won 'Best Actor'.

In 2017, the iHolly International Film Festival awarded Bill Oberst Jr. their Life-Time Achievement Award.

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

TelevisionEdit

TheaterEdit

  • Tonight: Mark Twain (2005–2009)
  • Stand-Up: When Comedy Was Funny (2001–2008)
  • A Tribute To Lewis Grizzard (1999–2010)[51]
  • JFK (1996–2004), as John F. Kennedy
  • Jesus of Nazareth (1994–2004), as Jesus of Nazareth

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Wiechman, Lori (September 27, 1996). "Actor portrays 'best part' of Kennedy". The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved March 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ staff (December 6, 2013). "Indie icon Bill Oberst Jr. attached to local film". Rock River Times. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Q&A -- Bill Oberst Jr". The State. January 26, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  4. ^ Hill, Kashmir (October 18, 2011). "'Take This Lollipop' And Get Your Very Own Creepy Facebook Stalker". Forbes. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Gross, Doug (October 28, 2011). "Interactive video turns Facebook fears into 2 minutes of horror". CNN. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  6. ^ Gayle, Damien (October 28, 2011). "Reading you like an open Facebook? Spooky interactive video mines social network to show risks of sharing personal details online". Daily Mail. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ "16th Annual Webby Awards Nominees & Winners". Webby Awards. Archived from the original on May 29, 2010. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  8. ^ "2012 XSXSWi winners". SXSW. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  9. ^ "2012 Daytime Emmy Awards - 'New Approaches - Daytime Entertainment'". Daytime Emmy Awards. Retrieved May 28, 2012. 
  10. ^ Gash, Doctor (June 24, 2012). "Take This Lollipop Takes An Emmy". Dread Central. Retrieved June 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Palisin, Steve (April 22, 2007). "'Uncle Billy': Bill Oberst plays Gen. Sherman". The Sun News. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  12. ^ a b c "Bill Oberst Jr. official biography". Fancast website. Retrieved 2009-04-06. [permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Tonight: Mark Twain! with Bill Oberst Jr". National Endowment for the Arts. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  14. ^ "Actor to portray Mark Twain at LSUE March 4". Louisiana State University at Eunice. February 10, 2006. Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  15. ^ Cauthen, Carolyn (November 3, 1999). "Happenings - Mark Twain could be your date for dinner". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  16. ^ a b "Grizzard tribute coming to Cedartown this Saturday". Cedartown Standard. September 3, 2002. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  17. ^ "One-man show re-creates teachings, looks of Jesus". Greensboro News and Record. July 26, 1996. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  18. ^ "Bill Oberst brings J.F.. to life with a detailed one-man show to benefit Habitat for Humanity". The Sun News. June 14, 1996. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  19. ^ "Coming up: Performance honors comic legends". The State. January 23, 2003. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  20. ^ "Hot ticket, Grizzard's southern humor in spotlight". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. March 21, 2003. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  21. ^ "Filling big shows, in fact, actor Bill Oberst Jr. has worn Lewis Grizzard's shoes while impersonating the legendary columnist". Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. April 6, 2003. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  22. ^ Avilla, Severo (April 28, 2005). "Humor Columnist honored with performance". Rome News-Tribune. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  23. ^ "Grizzard portrayal on tap for Celebrations". Daily Leader. March 24, 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  24. ^ "Oberst portrays writer Grizzard". NewsStar.com. April 1, 2009. Archived from the original on 5 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  25. ^ "Lewis Grizzard show celebrates brilliance of Southern humorist". Springer Theatre. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  26. ^ Hallam, Scott (July 8, 2013). "A Look Inside the Mind of Bill Oberst, Jr". DreadCentral. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  27. ^ Martin, Kathryn (December 14, 2001). "'A Christmas Carol' - Short story given justice in a breathless 45 minutes". The Sun News. 
  28. ^ Johnson, Jeff. "Oberst captures Grizzard's wit, charm". The Post and Courier. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  29. ^ Harvey, Alec. "Portrayal of Grizzard funny, eerily real". The Birmingham News. 
  30. ^ Perez-Brennan, Tanya. "Grizzard show works, even for a young Yankee". The Florida Times-Union. 
  31. ^ Edward Caudill; Paul Ashdown (2008). Sherman's March in Myth and Memory. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-7425-5027-8. 
  32. ^ "Man, myth & march: Southern actor draws on complex emotions for his portrayal of Sherman". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. April 20, 2007. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  33. ^ Rabinowitz, Dorothy (April 20, 2007). "Unexpected Gifts" (PDF). The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  34. ^ "Review: 'Dogs of Chinatown'". Kung Fu Cinema. Archived from the original on 2009-04-14. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  35. ^ Hall, Dustin (January 1, 2009). "DVD Review: Dismal" (review). Brutal as Hell. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  36. ^ Martin, Duane L. (February 2, 2009). "Dismal (2008)". Rogue Cinema. Archived from the original (review) on 2010-07-19. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  37. ^ Gale, Porter (October 24, 2011). "How Jason Zada Created Facebook's Scariest Viral Sensation: TakeThisLollipop.com". Ad Age. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  38. ^ Foywonder (January 20, 2014). "Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012)". DreadCentral. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  39. ^ Adams, Jason (June 20, 2012). "Awfully Good: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies". JoBlo. 
  40. ^ Rasic, Jared (June 1, 2012). "Interview: Bill Oberst Jr. (Abraham Lincoln VS. Zombies)". CHUD.com. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  41. ^ Barton, Steve (April 22, 2012). "New Short Film Assassins Makes a Big Red Splash". Dread Central. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  42. ^ Barton, Steve (April 17, 2012). "This May it's Time to Get Scary or Die". Dread Central. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  43. ^ Barton, Steve (February 9, 2012). "Exclusive Stills: Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies". Dread Central. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  44. ^ Turek, Ryan (February 11, 2012). "New Photos from Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies". shocktillyoudrop.com. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  45. ^ Barton, Steve (April 30, 2012). "Check Out the Werewolf Short The Beast". Dread Central. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  46. ^ Bell, Mark. "Jet-lagged (review)". Film Threat. Archived from the original on 29 May 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2014. 
  47. ^ Bill Oberst jr.
  48. ^ Zombieworld
  49. ^ COYOTE, starring genre-fave Bill Oberst Jr.
  50. ^ The Ballad of Tennessee Rose [permanent dead link]
  51. ^ Skinner, Winston (October 17, 2010). "Oberst show on Grizzard today at NHS". Newnan Times-Herald. Archived from the original on February 5, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 

External linksEdit