Albert Lawrence Brooks (born July 22, 1947), né Einstein, is an American actor, voice actor, writer, comedian and director. He received an Academy Award nomination in 1987 for his role in Broadcast News. His voice acting credits include the character Marlin—the clownfish father in Finding Nemo—and recurring guest voices for the animated television series The Simpsons.
Brooks was born Albert Lawrence Einstein in Beverly Hills, California, the son of Thelma Leeds (née Goodman), a singer and actress, and Harry Parke (né Einstein), a radio comedian who performed on Eddie Cantor's radio program and was known as Parkyarkarkus. His brothers are comedic actor Bob Einstein, better known by his stage name "Super Dave Osborne", and Cliff Einstein, a partner and longtime chief creative officer at Los Angeles advertising agency Dailey & Associates. His half-brother was Charles Einstein (1926–2007), a writer who wrote for such television programs as Playhouse 90 and Lou Grant. Brooks is Jewish. He grew up among show business royalty in southern California, attending Beverly Hills High School with the likes of Richard Dreyfuss and Rob Reiner.
Brooks attended Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, but dropped out after one year to focus on his comedy career. He changed his surname from Einstein (to avoid confusion with the famous physicist) and began a stand-up comedy career that quickly made him 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 onstage 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; his first film, The Famous Comedians School, was a satiric short that appeared on PBS and was an early example of the mockumentary sub-genre.
- ad:10/11/75 h:George Carlin - "The Impossible Truth"
- ad:10/18/75 h:Paul Simon - failed Candid Camera stunts and home movies
- ad:10/25/75 h:Rob Reiner - heart surgery
- ad:11/8/75 h:Candice Bergen - upcoming season
- ad:12/13/75 h:Richard Pryor / Gil Scott-Heron - sick
- ad:1/9/76 h:Elliott Gould / Anne Murray - audience test screening
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). The role reflected Brooks' decision to move to Los Angeles to enter the film business. In an interview, Brooks mentioned a conversation he'd had with Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader, in which Schrader said that Brooks' character was the only one in the movie that he could not "understand" — a remark that Brooks found amusing, as the movie's anti-hero was a psychotic loner.
Brooks directed his first feature film, Real Life, in 1979. The film, in which Brooks obnoxiously 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 longtime 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, but 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. They meet comic disappointment.
Brooks's Defending Your Life (1991) placed his lead character in the afterlife, put on trial to justify his human fears and thus determine his cosmic fate. Critics responded to the offbeat premise and the surprising chemistry between Brooks and Meryl Streep as his post-death love interest. His later efforts did not find large audiences, but still retained Brooks's 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 down-and-out Hollywood screenwriter using the services of an authentic muse (Sharon Stone) for inspiration.
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 as 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 disillusioned teen Leelee Sobieski in My First Mister (2001). Brooks has appeared as a guest voice on The Simpsons five times during its run (always under the name A. Brooks), and 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 continued his voiceover work in Disney and Pixar's Finding Nemo (2003), as the voice of "Marlin", one of the film's protagonists; Nemo is Brooks's largest grossing film to date.
In 2005, his film Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World drew controversy for its title. Sony Pictures eventually dropped the film altogether because of their desire to change the title. Subsequently, 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. The movie goes back to the days of Brooks's Real Life, as Brooks once again plays himself, a filmmaker commissioned by the U.S. government to see what makes the Muslim people laugh, thus 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 main antagonist of The Simpsons Movie.
Brooks resides in Los Angeles.
|1979||Real Life||Albert Brooks||Writer and director|
|1980||Private Benjamin||Yale Goodman|
|1981||Modern Romance||Robert Cole||Writer and director|
|1983||Twilight Zone: The Movie||Car driver|
|Terms of Endearment||Voice of Rudyard Greenway||Credited as "A. Brooks"|
|1984||Unfaithfully Yours||Norman Robbins|
|1985||Lost in America||David Howard||Writer and director|
|1987||Broadcast News||Aaron Altman||Nominated - Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1991||Defending Your Life||Daniel Miller||Writer and director|
|1994||I'll Do Anything||Burke Adler|
|The Scout||Al Percolo||Writer|
|1996||Mother||John Henderson||Writer and director|
|1997||Critical Care||Dr. Butz|
|1998||Dr. Dolittle||Jacob the Tiger|
|Out of Sight||Richard Ripley|
|1999||The Muse||Steven Phillips||Writer and director|
|2001||My First Mister||Randall 'R' Harris|
|2003||The In-Laws||Jerry Peyser|
|2006||Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World||Himself||Writer and director|
|2007||The Simpsons Movie||Russ Cargill||Credited as "A. Brooks"|
|1969||Hot Wheels||Kip Chogi
|1970||The Odd Couple||Rudy||Episode 1.8: "Oscar, the Model" and Episode 1.11: "Felix Is Missing"|
|1971||Love, American Style||Christopher Leacock||Episode 2.16: "Love and Operation Model/Love and the Sack"|
|1972||The New Dick Van Dyke Show||Dr. Norman||Episode 2.2: "The Needle"|
|1975–1976||Saturday Night Live||Additional characters||Writer and director of several segments|
|1976||The Famous Comedians School||N/A||TV film; writer, editor and director|
|1990–2005||The Simpsons||Various characters||Appeared in five episodes|
Credited as "A. Brooks"
|2008||Weeds||Lenny Botwin||Appeared in six episodes|
- Albert Brooks Biography (1947-)
- EGO Magazine: Comedy in The Muslim World
- Kaufman, Peter of The Washington Post, "The background on Albert Brooks", The Buffalo News, January 22, 2006. 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."
- "Albert Brooks 'Real Life' film is an unexpected classic"
- "http://www.boxofficemojo.com/". Modern Romance box office. Retrieved 12 March 2006. External link in
- "http://www.rottentomatoes.com/". Modern Romance (1981). Retrieved 12 March 2006. External link in
- Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Zoromski, Brian. "Top 25 Simpsons Guest Appearances". IGN. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
- Weeds Scoop: Albert Brooks Is Nancy's "Dad"
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