In real life, Mike Farrell was far different than his character Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt. On M*A*S*H, Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt was one of the many 4077th pranksters; he also had many jokes and sported one of the best mustaches in the area. Farrell, however, said his shyness in real life almost ruined his chances of becoming an actor.
“I was a very frightened guy,” Farrell said in a 1977 interview with San Antonio Express. “I was so shy, the idea of getting up on stage and doing something was dreadfully painful. As a matter of fact, getting up before a class in school to talk was the hardest thing for me to do. It was awful.”
According to the interview, after years of therapy, Farrell eventually beat his shyness. He ran straight to the stage… the same one he tried very hard to stay away from.
With his already shy nature, joining M*A*S*H during season four and replacing a beloved character (Trapper John) must have been a terrifying experience for Farrell.
Joining an already-existing cast of unique characters could present a few challenges: he needed to win over his co-workers, get approval from America and keep M*A*S*H’s high ratings.
Despite his worries, Farrell joined M*A*S*H and fit in seemingly well right away. His character eventually became a grounding point for the series, and he held a solid moral code.
Even with Farrell’s stardom during M*A*S*H, he still enjoyed the simple things in life. With all the success that came from the series, Farrell still wasn’t buying into the Hollywood lifestyle.
“Sure, we’ve put in a swimming pool and taken advantage of some of the things that come with a little money,” Farrell said. “But no, I don’t see the need to drive a Rolls-Royce, nor do I have radio-controlled gates and guard dogs to protect my home. Put simply, I don’t let where I’m supposed to be ‘at’ dictate what I’m supposed to be doing.”
In a 1977 interview with the Anderson Independent, Farrell said he was thankful to have become part of the M*A*S*H family. Even though he was second to Alan Alda’s character, Capt. Hawkeye Pierce, he was first in many fans’ hearts. From a shy kid to stardom, Farrell found his calling in M*A*S*H.
“This has been the best group to work with,” Farrell said. “I’m so in love with these people.”