Fruit. Bill Pullman can’t get enough of the stuff. Not only is it a staple of his diet but his livelihood. On Friday night, attendees of The Fruit Hunters at “The Fruit Hunters” at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden were able to see just how far the actor’s obsession goes. He’s one of the stars of director Yung Chang’s documentary about so-called biophiles like him, including locals Richard Campbell and Noris Ledesma, tropical fruit curators and rabid mango hunters.
There was another reason Pullman was the perfect person to be in such a film: He oversees a community orchard in Los Angeles. We spoke to the married father of three, 59, from the Biltmore Hotel about his delicious hobby as well as his illustrious acting career:
How did you get involved in this project?
I had my orchard for a long time but wasn’t too public about it until a New York Times profile mentioned how many trees I had. Yung Chang called me up, and I told him I’d show him a lot of people who should be in his movie. By the time he got all the money together he wanted me to be in it. He assembled quite an amazing collection of character studies.
How is fruit growing in California different from here?
I know you all think South Florida is the answer, but we have our own version of it. There’s a lot of diversity here. Our weather is more temperate, less humid. We just had the last of the citrus; I picked the last grapefruit. I have some summer apples and some great Persian and Pakistani mulberries. They are so sweet.
You must make some awesome pies and shakes.
‘Awesome’ is an overused word. I think ‘mind-blowing’ is a better term, a whole other level. We can do a really good pie with the mulberries and make syrup with it. You can also use it in lemonade and things like that.
Is it true you lost your sense of smell? How does that affect your taste?
Yes, years ago, I had a head injury and was in a coma for 2 1/2 days. I came away with no smell. This is kind of a running theme in this movie. Everybody would go, ‘Now, get ready, and take a smell of this.’ [Laughs]. But I can enjoy the tasting part. If you ever read the Diane Ackerman book, A Natural History of the Senses, she talks about all the senses one by one. People say if they had to lose one it would be smell, but sometimes I ache for it.
Are you a healthier person because you eat so much fruit?
Well, I don’t know. For [picking], you’ve got to get the ladder and climb the tree and cut the branches. You gotta bring it back in and wash it. That’s exercise — and may be the healthiest part of it all. Luckily, I haven’t gotten hurt. I have a project coming up and that would be unfortunate if I showed up crippled.
Speaking of projects, you’ve been in dozens of movies, up to six in one year (2000). Have you lost count?
Yes, I really don’t have an accurate count. A good handful. I have the opportunity to do a lot of different things. I’m not sure everyone would want to do that. I’ve moved into some interesting long, serious arcs on television like Torchwood as a pedophile murderer. I get some weird looks now. I was passing through Iowa, and this waitress kind of was smirking at me. She was reacting to this creepy character I play. I’m getting back into theater now too, which I like.
Which movie do fans ask you about most?
I’ve had a pretty diverse run. It depends on the age of the person. Some groups know me for Spaceballs or Casper. Then there’s the ones who remember me for While You Were Sleeping. Most recently I’ve been getting Bottle Shock. So you have action hero, dejected lover, then you’ve got president!
Speaking of which: Did you see “White House Down?” Did it remind you of “Independence Day?”
Ah yes, playing the president is a distinct role. And Roland Emmerich’s interest in blowing up things — he is wild. I remember that gleeful look in his eye. [Imitating a German accent] ‘I will blow up zee White House again and again!’
For more information about the film go to “The Fruit Hunters” page on Facebook.