Some 'A-Team' fans were disappointed Dwight Schultz wasn't more like Howling Mad Murdock

'People cluck at me and flap their arms up and down.'

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Fans have, for a long time, always associated actors with their best known roles. Often times, fans believe that actor is really like the character they portray. There are times when characteristics are shared between the actor and character he or she may represent, but more times than not, they really are just playing a role.  

When the character is Howling Mad Murdock from the Eighties hit show The A-Team, it's good to know Murdock's actor, Dwight Schultz, isn't the person he portrayed in the show. That doesn't mean it didn't disappoint fans, however. 

According to a 1984 article in The Pittsburgh Press newspaper, Schultz would get nervous that fans wouldn't be super excited to see him, once they saw the real him. 

"People are so disappointed when they meet me," Schultz said. "I sometimes tremble when I have to meet people in person because I know they'll be disappointed." 

The only reason they were disappointed in real life, is because the character of Howling Mad was so enjoyable on TV. There was no possible way to tell what version of Howling Mad you were going to get from one episode of The A-Team to the next.

Some episodes he would swoop in with his stolen plane and save the day. Other times he would crash-land in the middle of a forrest. One thing is for certain, Schultz lived up to the character's name with every episode. No matter what Howling Mad was doing, Schultz would feel the ramifications in real life with some funny fan interactions. 

"People cluck at me and flap their arms up and down. Most adults say 'We know you're not really crazy,' but they're still disappointed when I don't behave like Murdock." 

Schultz added just because his character is so eccentric, doesn't mean he's the only actor that has faced this issue. 

"It's the age-old actor's dilemma," he said in the article. "You don't want to be typecast and if you carry that on-camera personality over into your real life, you've dug a hole for yourself. But when you don't behave like the character, you aren't living up to what they expect of you." 

The actor added the character isn't made for a specific demographic. He says Murdock can make an impression on everyone. 

"I think the appeal is the same for both kids and adults. Murdock is extremely free. He says and does what he wants to without worrying about what the neighbors will say. People write to me and say, 'That's what I've always wanted to do.'"

As for the decades-old question, is Murdock really crazy, or does he put it on for the A-Team's benefit, Schultz gives the perfect actor response. 

"That's the essence of Murdock - you never know for sure whether he's pulling your leg or whether he's really crazy." 

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24 Comments

Coldnorth 14 months ago
Al Bundy, Peg Bundy, Archie Bunker, just a few actors, morphed into other characters. The Star Trec Conventions etc are made up of loyal fans. Be happy that you did such good job of acting people still remember you for that role. Why get in that business if you get upset when your adoring fans want to ask you about that role. I guess I would have to walk a mile in their shoes to understand
vinman63 16 months ago
As Mung in Chowder he was both serious and sarcastic.
Moody 16 months ago
People are so strange. Why would they expect him to act like Murdock in real life? If he was really like that I'm pretty sure he wouldn't be in tv & movies. 🙄
CoreyC 16 months ago
Dwight Schultz is a great actor. People can't disassociate actors from their roles. Just go to a Star Trek convention.
tootsieg 16 months ago
The article rings very true. Dwight Schultz was amazing jumping from one persona to the next. The episode when he sounded like James Mason the entire time was incredible.
15inchBlackandWhite 16 months ago
The same people were probably disappointed to learn that Leonard Nimoy wasn't really a Vulcan. It's called acting, people.
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CoreyC Coldnorth 14 months ago
You clearly haven't been at a Star Trek convention in the 80's. Some fans can't separate fantasy from reality.
Coldnorth CoreyC 14 months ago
No I haven’t, but I had I friend(He died a few years ago) that went to those conventions and dressed the part. He had the layout of the Enterprise. He definitely separated the fact from fiction. He was what my husband says. The word fan means fanatic. So I agree with you when taken to far. But if I saw someone famous that I liked I would probably call him or her by character name.
CoreyC Coldnorth 14 months ago
I'm sorry about your friend. My problem was the convention had the legendary Jane Wyatt and a person asked her about having sex with a Vulcan and she responded with class but I was dumbfounded.
Coldnorth CoreyC 14 months ago
Ok now I get it. You are talking extreme extreme. I didn’t even think people were that far out there. Thank you for helping me understand.
daDoctah 16 months ago
It's hard to play crazy convincingly if you actually are crazy. You have to have a pretty good grip on reality to make a character like that work.

Unless you're Matt Frewer, of course.
Zip 16 months ago
Schultz said. "I sometimes tremble when I have to meet people in person because I know they'll be disappointed."

In that case he is more like Lt. Broccoli... BARCLAY!
Coldnorth Zip 14 months ago
Whenever I think of Broccoli for a name, I think of the old Bond movies
Andybandit 16 months ago
That was too bad that fans wanted him to be like his A-Team. He is a good actor, and a good person in real life.
Pacificsun 16 months ago
IMO, as the character is written, he can't be crazy to be faking crazy. Is my hunch, if developers were sitting around the table trying to describe him. For one thing, he hangs out at asylum for protection. He is a free spirit, so I think he does speak to that personality type (demographic).

To me he was otherwise unknown, until his ST:TNG role (a Two Part episode) where he was a very interesting scientific genius yet socially awkward. That's the personality I expected, not having watched A-Team since the 80's. But there was a recently posted interview of him at a fan conference, where once you see who he is, is very mainstream and gentlemanly. He's one of my favorite actors, now.
CoreyC Pacificsun 16 months ago
Dwight Schultz's Barclay was one of the most underappreciated Star Trek characters. His character evolved from TNG to Voyager.
Pacificsun CoreyC 16 months ago
Well said, and thank you! 🎃
WilliamJorns CoreyC 16 months ago
Barclay's character on Star Trek:TNG was basically Everyman as a Starfleet officer. We all wish to be like Picard, Riker, Worf, Dr. Crusher or Counselor Troi, but I think in reality we'd be more like Reg Barclay - just an ordinary guy trying to fit in as best he can, and feeling rather awkward about it.
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