Albert Brooks (born Albert Lawrence Einstein; July 22, 1947) is an American actor, comedian and filmmaker.
Albert Lawrence Einstein
July 22, 1947
|Alma mater||Carnegie Mellon University|
He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for 1987's Broadcast News and was widely praised for his performance as a ruthless Jewish mobster in the 2011 action drama film Drive. Brooks has also played in Taxi Driver (1976), Private Benjamin (1980), Unfaithfully Yours (1984), and My First Mister (2001). He has written, directed, and starred in several comedy films, such as Modern Romance (1981), Lost in America (1985), and Defending Your Life (1991). He is also the author of 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America (2011).
His voice acting credits include Marlin in Finding Nemo (2003) and Finding Dory (2016), Tiberius in The Secret Life of Pets (2016), and several one-time characters in The Simpsons, including Hank Scorpio in "You Only Move Twice" (1996) and Russ Cargill in The Simpsons Movie (2007) .
Brooks was born Albert Lawrence Einstein on July 22, 1947 into a Jewish show business family in Beverly Hills, California, to Thelma Leeds (née Goodman), an actress, and Harry Einstein, a radio comedian who performed on Eddie Cantor's radio program and was known as "Parkyakarkus". He is the youngest of three sons. His older brothers are the late comedic actor Bob Einstein (1942–2019), better known as a character he created named "Super Dave Osborne", his Officer Judy character on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and for a recurring role in Curb Your Enthusiasm; and Cliff Einstein (b. 1939), a partner and longtime chief creative officer at Los Angeles advertising agency Dailey & Associates. His older half-brother was Charles Einstein (1926–2007), a writer for such television programs as Playhouse 90 and Lou Grant. His grandparents emigrated from Austria and Russia. He grew up among show business families in southern California, attending Beverly Hills High School with Richard Dreyfuss and Rob Reiner.
Brooks attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, but dropped out after one year to focus on his comedy career. By the age of 19, he had changed his professional name to Albert Brooks, joking that "the real Albert Einstein changed his name to sound more intelligent". He quickly became a regular on variety and talk shows during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Brooks led a new generation of self-reflective baby-boomer comics appearing on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. His on-stage persona, that of an egotistical, narcissistic, nervous comic, an ironic showbiz insider who punctured himself before an audience by disassembling his mastery of comedic stagecraft, influenced other '70s post-modern comedians, including Steve Martin, Martin Mull, and Andy Kaufman.
After two successful comedy albums, Comedy Minus One (1973) and the Grammy Award–nominated A Star Is Bought (1975), Brooks left the stand-up circuit to try his hand as a filmmaker. He had already made his first short film, The Famous Comedians School, a satiric short and an early example of the mockumentary subgenre that was aired in 1972 on the PBS show The Great American Dream Machine.
In 1975, Brooks directed six short films for the first season of NBC's Saturday Night Live In 1976, he appeared in his first mainstream film role, in Martin Scorsese's landmark Taxi Driver; Scorsese allowed Brooks to improvise much of his dialogue. Brooks had landed the role after moving to Los Angeles to enter the film business.
Brooks directed his first feature film, Real Life, in 1979. The film, in which Brooks (playing a version of himself) films a typical suburban family in an effort to win both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize, was a sendup of PBS's An American Family documentary. It has also been viewed as foretelling the future emergence of reality television. Brooks also made a cameo appearance in the film Private Benjamin (1980), starring Goldie Hawn.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, Brooks co-wrote (with long-time collaborator Monica Johnson), directed and starred in a series of well-received comedies, playing variants on his standard neurotic and self-obsessed character. These include 1981's Modern Romance, where Brooks played a film editor desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold). The film received a limited release and ultimately grossed under $3 million domestically. It was well received by critics, with one reviewer commenting that the film was "not Brooks at his best, but still amusing". His best-received film, Lost in America (1985), featured Brooks and Julie Hagerty as a couple who leave their yuppie lifestyle and drop out of society to live in a motor home as they have always dreamed of doing, meeting disappointment.
Brooks' Defending Your Life (1991) placed his lead character in the afterlife, put on trial to justify his human fears and determine his cosmic fate. Critics responded to the off-beat premise and the chemistry between Brooks and Meryl Streep, as his post-death love interest. His later efforts did not find large audiences, but still retained Brooks' touch as a filmmaker. He garnered positive reviews for Mother (1996), which starred Brooks as a middle-aged writer moving back home to resolve tensions between himself and his mother (Debbie Reynolds). 1999's The Muse featured Brooks as a Hollywood screenwriter who has "lost his edge", using the services of an authentic muse (Sharon Stone) for inspiration. In an interview with Brooks with regards to The Muse, Gavin Smith wrote, "Brooks's distinctive film making style is remarkably discreet and unemphatic; he has a light, deft touch, with a classical precision and economy, shooting and cutting his scenes in smooth, seamless successions of medium shots, with clean, high-key lighting."
Brooks has appeared as a guest voice on The Simpsons seven times during its run (always under the name A. Brooks). He is described as the best guest star in the show's history by IGN, particularly for his role as supervillain Hank Scorpio in the episode "You Only Move Twice".
Brooks also acted in other writers' and directors' films during the 1980s and 1990s. He had a cameo in the opening scene of Twilight Zone: The Movie, playing a driver whose passenger (Dan Aykroyd) has a shocking secret. In James L. Brooks's hit Broadcast News (1987), Albert Brooks was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for playing an insecure, supremely ethical network TV reporter, who offers the rhetorical question, "Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive?" He also won positive notices for his role in 1998's Out of Sight, playing an untrustworthy banker and ex-convict.
Brooks received positive reviews for his portrayal of a dying retail store owner who befriends a disillusioned teenager (played by Leelee Sobieski) in My First Mister (2001). Brooks continued his voiceover work in Pixar's Finding Nemo (2003), as the voice of Marlin, one of the film's protagonists.
In 2005, his film Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World was dropped by Sony Pictures due to their desire to change the title. Warner Independent Pictures purchased the film and gave it a limited release in January 2006; the film received mixed reviews and a low box office gross. As with Real Life, Brooks plays a fictionalized "Albert Brooks", a filmmaker ostensibly commissioned by the U.S. government to see what makes the Muslim people laugh, and sending him on a tour of India and Pakistan.
In 2006 he appeared in the documentary film Wanderlust as David Howard from Lost in America. The documentary included many other well-known people. In 2007, he continued his long-term collaboration with The Simpsons by voicing Russ Cargill, the central antagonist of The Simpsons Movie.
He has played Lenny Botwin, Nancy Botwin's estranged father-in-law, on Showtime's television series Weeds. St. Martin's Press published his first novel, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, on May 10, 2011.
In 2011, Brooks co-starred as the vicious gangster Bernie Rose, the main antagonist in the film Drive, alongside Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. His performance received much critical praise and positive reviews, with several critics proclaiming Brooks' performance as one of the film's best aspects. After receiving awards and nominations from several film festivals and critic groups, but not an Academy Award nomination, Brooks responded humorously on Twitter, "And to the Academy: ‘You don't like me. You really don't like me’."
|"Albert Brooks' Famous School for Comedians"||PBS|
|1979||Real Life||Paramount Pictures|
|1981||Modern Romance||Columbia Pictures|
|1985||Lost in America||Warner Bros.|
|1991||Defending Your Life|
|1999||The Muse||October Films|
|2005||Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World||Warner Independent Pictures|
|1973||Comedy Minus One||live|
|1975||A Star Is Bought||studio|
|2011||2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America|
|1979||Real Life||Albert Brooks||Also writer/director|
|1980||Private Benjamin||Yale Goodman|
|1981||Modern Romance||Robert Cole||Also writer/director|
|1983||Twilight Zone: The Movie||Car Driver||Segment: "Prologue"|
|Terms of Endearment||Rudyard||Voice only; credited as "A. Brooks"|
|1984||Unfaithfully Yours||Norman Robbins|
|1985||Lost in America||David Howard||Also writer/director|
|1987||Broadcast News||Aaron Altman||Oscar nomination for “Best Supporting Actor”|
|1991||Defending Your Life||Daniel Miller||Also writer/director|
|1994||I'll Do Anything||Burke Adler|
|The Scout||Al Percolo||Also writer|
|1996||Mother||John Henderson||Also writer/director|
|1997||Critical Care||Dr. Butz|
|1998||Dr. Dolittle||Jacob the Tiger||Voice only|
|Out of Sight||Richard Ripley|
|1999||The Muse||Steven Phillips||Also writer/director|
|2001||My First Mister||Randall 'R' Harris|
|2003||Finding Nemo||Marlin||Voice only|
|Exploring the Reef with Jean-Michel Cousteau||Marlin||Short film; voice only|
|The In-Laws||Jerry Peyser|
|2005||Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World||Himself||Also writer/director|
|2007||The Simpsons Movie||Russ Cargill||Voice only; credited as "A. Brooks"|
|2012||This Is 40||Larry|
|2014||A Most Violent Year||Andrew Walsh|
|2015||The Little Prince||The Businessman||Voice only|
|Concussion||Dr. Cyril Wecht|
|2016||Finding Dory||Marlin||Voice only|
|The Secret Life of Pets||Tiberius||Voice only|
|2017||I Love You, Daddy||Dick Welker||Voice only; credited as "A. Brooks"|
|1969||Hot Wheels||Mickey Barnes / Kip Chogi||Voice role|
|1970||The Odd Couple||Rudy||2 episodes|
|1971||Love, American Style||Christopher Leacock||Episode 2.16: "Love and Operation Model"|
|1972||The New Dick Van Dyke Show||Dr. Norman||Episode 2.2: "The Needle"|
|1975–1976||Saturday Night Live||Interviewer / Bob / Heart Surgeon||Assistant director: 7 episodes|
Writer: 5 episodes
Actor: 4 episodes
|1990–present||The Simpsons||Various roles||Voice; 8 episodes; credited as "A. Brooks"|
|2008||Weeds||Lenny Botwin||4 episodes|
|2021||Curb Your Enthusiasm||Himself||Episode: "The Five-Foot Fence"|
Awards and nominationsEdit
- "Albert Brooks Biography (1947-)". www.filmreference.com. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
- "Academy Awards 1987". filmsite.org.
- Astarte Piccione, Rachel (January 2006). "Comedy in The Muslim World". EGO Magazine. Archived from the original on February 10, 2006.
- Kaufman, Peter (January 22, 2006). "The background on Albert Brooks". The Washington Post, The Buffalo News. Accessed April 24, 2008. "Albert Brooks, who grew up in a showbiz family and attended Beverly Hills High School, has never been interested in being an outsider."
- Lambert, Pam (January 27, 1997). "Mother Lode". People. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
- McCall, Cheryl. "Psst! Albert Brooks Isn't Kin to Mel Except in Comedy". People.
- Ramsey Ess (January 4, 2013). "The Short Films of Albert Brooks". Archived February 14, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Albert Brooks takes a look back on his career". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
- Montoya, Maria (February 28, 2009). "Albert Brooks 'Real Life' film is an unexpected classic" Archived July 9, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. The Times-Picayune.
- Howard Zieff (director) (October 10, 1980). Private Benjamin (Film). Warner Brothers.
- "Modern Romance box office". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on March 19, 2006. Retrieved March 12, 2006.
- "Modern Romance (1981)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 12, 2006.
- Film Comment, Jan/Feb 1999, All The Choices: Albert Brooks Interview
- Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Zoromski, Brian. "Top 25 Simpsons Guest Appearances". IGN. Archived from the original on March 8, 2007. Retrieved March 25, 2007.
- Ausiello, Michael (April 14, 2008). "Weeds Scoop: Albert Brooks Is Nancy's 'Dad'". TV Guide.
- Maslin, Janet (May 1, 2011). "A Wry Eye on Problems of the Future". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 1, 2022.
- Hughes, Sarah Anne (January 24, 2012). "Albert Brooks not nominated for Oscar: 'I got ROBBED ... I mean literally. My pants and shoes have been stolen'". The Washington Post.
- Barmak, Sarah (January 27, 2012). "Talking Points: Hollywood abuzz over Oscar snubs". Toronto Star.
- Rochlin, Margy (August 22, 1999). "A Funnyman Whose Muse is in the Mirror". The New York Times.
- Apatow, Judd (January 2013). "Our Mr. Brooks". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
- Tropiano, Stephen (November 1, 2013). Saturday Night Live FAQ: Everything Left to Know About Television's Longest Running Comedy. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4803-6686-2.
- "Albert Brooks - Comedy Minus One". Discogs. Retrieved July 4, 2021.
- "Albert Brooks - A Star Is Bought". Discogs. Retrieved July 4, 2021.
- The Odd Couple - Felix Is Missing at IMDb