(This first appeared in Dig BMX Magazine #36.)
Not many people will recognize the name Lance Kinsey. Chances are though, if you throw the name “Lieutenant Proctor” out at a 30-something dinner party, you’ll have a biter or two.
Lance Kinsey is an actor that became infamous for his role as ‘Lieutenant Proctor’ in the Police Academy series. He appeared in episodes 2 through 6, and was best known for his performance as the bumbling go-to guy for the stickler captain of the series. Lt. Proctor was always the guy sent to spy on the Police Academy crew, trying to catch them in the act of wrongdoing or improper police procedure. Most of the time, he was duped by the force, often lured into gay bars or stuck in jail cells that he himself was supposed to be guarding. His performances were the stuff that classic comedy is made of, but as Kinsey tells it, those performances often became difficult to escape from.
Like so many actors before him, he was type-casted both in and out of his professional life. Inevitably, he had become a real-life version of Lieutenant Proctor, a facet of life that still affects him almost 15 years later. But rather than let me explain the situation, I’ll pass the space onto Kinsey, whom was kind enough to explore the shadow of his life known as “Proctor!” Unlike his character from the Police Academy movies, he was gracious, well-spoken and honest. Welcome to the Lance Kinsey (not Proctor) interview…
So, what happens when you, the actor Lance Kinsey, gets pulled over by the police?
Lance: (Pause) That’s a great question…. Well, the one time it actually happened, the pursuing officers automatically recognized me. I forget his name, but he looked at me, looked at the license and smiled. Then he took a step back, breathed deep and yelled… “Proctor!”
I just smiled back and laughed along. At the time, well still, I hate dealing with that crap, but if it’s going to get me out of a ticket, I’ll go along with it… After he let me off, I drove away, faster than I was already going, whispering “Fucking prick” under my breath….
That’s funny. So how many Police Academy movies did you work on?
Lance: Four of them. Starting with 2 and ending with 6. After that, things started to change. Steve Guttenberg, who played Mahoney, was leaving, along with a lot of the original characters. I had a lot of other offers to do, like the straight to video hits ‘Wedding Band,’ and ‘Masters of Menace.’ They allowed me to stretch out a bit from the Lt. Proctor role that everyone still won’t let me live down. They didn’t do that great as far as sales go, but by after four Academy movies, it was time to move on. There’s talk of a reunion movie with most of the original characters, and there’s been for years now, so if that ever happens, I’ll more than likely go back to the Proctor role.
You seem pretty uncomfortable with being known as Proctor and not Lance Kinsey. I mean, I could understand that you’ve become infamous for that role, but it’s not completely bad, is it?
Lance: Have you seen the movies? I’m assuming you have since you requested the interview from me. You’ve seen what I play, a lackey police lieutenant that can’t listen, can’t function and is notorious for kissing the captain’s ass. I’m thankful for the publicity the role gave me, and the money it gave me…. But I trained eight years as a professional actor. I’ve done Shakespeare and Brecht and Chekhov… No one knows that. They know Lance Kinsey, the real person, as a bumbling idiot that always ends up getting stuck in a situation that involves dancing with leather-clad gay bikers in a dark bar. I won an award for my performance in The Seagull. I’ve been a creative writer and consultant on the Drew Carey hit ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’
Basically, after you play an idiot, people assume you are an idiot. It’s that simple…. What’s the proverb? Oh, I remember. If it smells like shit, it probably is shit…. Well, that’s a huge cut against a classically trained actor that gets famous for what Lt. Proctor did, locking himself in jail cells and always referencing “Fruits at the bar….”
What was your favorite part about doing the Police Academy series?
Lance: Well, it’s a bit hypocritical considering what I just said, but it did open a lot of doors for me to do more comedy, which I miss lately. Aside from that, hanging with the crew was always a romp. Guttenberg was a constant pranker. One time, he rigged up a fake birthday party for Georgie Gaynes, who played Commandant Lassard and was on Punky Brewster for all those years. He went over the top, brought in strippers and everything. It was six months from Georgie’s birthday!
And it got me to meet some pretty women too. First Hollywood starlet I hooked up with was Julie Brown from MTV. She had a bit part in Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment, and we did some acting of our own if you know what I mean….
I met a lot of great people from that series too. I still talk to Bubba [Smith], he played Hightower. And me and Tim [Kazurinsky] are best friends still. The guy that played Sweetchuck. But we’re not as goofy as those movies made us out to be… Plus that, I still get a check every time those movies are on Comedy Central or TBS.
What was your least favorite part about the series?
Lance: Not being able to stretch out emotionally as an actor. I mean, yeah, it was a comedy, but the audience never got to know the real side of Lt. Proctor. He had a family, a kid, and he wasn’t as nearly concerned with Captain Mauser or Captain Harris as the movies made him out to be. That, the constant publicity traveling, and getting picked on in public outside of the role are probably my greatest regrets in life.
Finally, have you ever ridden BMX?
Lance: Not a chance. But if you remember, in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, there’s a few pro skateboarders in the beginning of that film. Apparently, they all went on to be pretty famous. That’s as close as I’ve come to extreme sporting.
Thank you Lance, this was amazing.
Lance: No thank you, it’s rare that I even get to talk about these issues anymore. I’m glad to be able to tell people that I’m a real person, not Lieutenant Proctor…