Michael Lerner, the Brooklyn-born character actor who played a myriad of imposing figures in his 60 many years in the organization, together with monologuing film mogul Jack Lipnick in “Barton Fink,” the crooked club operator Bugsy Calhoun in “Harlem Nights” and an indignant publishing executive in “Elf” has died. He was 81.
His nephew, actor Sam Lerner, announced his dying in an Instagram post Sunday. Sam Lerner wrote that his uncle died Saturday but did not supply additional details. Neither his nor Michael Lerner’s associates straight away responded to requests for more comment.
“He was the coolest, most self-confident, talented dude,” Sam Lerner wrote. “Everyone that is aware of him is familiar with how crazy he was — in the very best way…we’re all blessed we can go on to watch his get the job done for the relaxation of time. RIP Michael, enjoy your unrestricted Cuban cigars, cozy chairs, and infinite film marathon.”
Born in 1941 to Romanian-Jewish dad and mom and lifted in Brooklyn’s Crimson Hook community, Michael Lerner commenced performing regionally as a teen and into his days at Brooklyn University, in which he got the chance to perform Willie Loman in “Death of a Salesman.” His ambitions to pursue acting skillfully crystalized when he received a Fulbright Scholarship and chose to review theater at the London Academy of Songs and Extraordinary Arts, exactly where he lived in an apartment with Yoko Ono for a time, showing in her brief film “Smile.” His brother, Ken Lerner, also turned an actor.
Lerner moved to Los Angeles in 1969, at the urging of an agent who observed his perform at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. He began acquiring forged in television displays, which includes “M*A*S*H,” “The Brady Bunch” and “The Rockford Files,” making his film debut in Paul Mazursky’s “Alex in Wonderland,” together with Charlotte Rampling. But he viewed as his initially significant part to be in the tv film “Ruby and Oswald” (he performed Jack Ruby) with Brian Dennehy.
In 1981, he was cast in Bob Rafelson’s remake of “The Postman Often Rings Two times,” alongside Jack Nicholson, who he identified as 1 of the most generous actors he’d at any time labored with, and Jessica Lange. A longtime cigar aficionado, Lerner felt out of his depths when he was asked to smoke a cigarette in a scene with Nicholson in a jail. Lerner stated he held the cigarette with both of those fingers.
He felt extra relaxed actively playing cigar-using tobacco journalist and politician Pierre Salinger in “Missiles of October,” for which Jackie Kennedy after told him that he’d “out Pierre’d Pierre.”
Lerner also cherished doing work with John Sayles on “Eight Adult men Out,” in which he performed Arnold Rothstein, the crime manager who conspired to correct the 1919 Earth Sequence.
“Most of the time I really do not rehearse, but I do a great deal of preparation. Especially for a biographical character or a single of the studio heads,” he explained in 2016. “I did a large amount of research for Barton Fink and appeared into Louis B. Mayer and all the moguls in Hollywood.”
Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Barton Fink,” released in 1991, is the film Lerner is most remembered for.
“I had auditioned for Joel and Ethan just before, for ‘Miller’s Crossing.’ So I walked into the area, as the character, and I really do not say hi to anyone. And I sit down guiding my desk and do this big speech: ‘Bart! Bart! So fantastic to see you,’” Lerner explained in 2016. “I did the monologue the way I preferred to do it and I just walked out of the room and that was it. And Joel and Ethan have been just sitting down in a corner just laughing and laughing and that was it.”
Lerner, who drew inspiration from Preston Sturges flicks, said the Coens didn’t give him considerably performing route and “were a minor anxious that I was conversing so fast” but that they allow him do what he wished.
The role acquired him his initially and only Oscar nomination, but in 1992, the Academy Award for supporting actor went to Jack Palance for “City Slickers.”
The Coens known as him decades later on to do a cameo in “A Really serious Male.”
Lerner also mentioned he was frequently acknowledged for his turns in Eddie Murphy’s “Harlem Nights” and “Elf,” as Fulton Greenway. He also performed Cher’s father in the tv spinoff of “Clueless.”
In the late ’90s, he was enthusiastic to get a prospect to do the job with Woody Allen on the movie “Celebrity,” but it turned into a horrible practical experience, he said in a 2016 interview.
“He is a schmuck,” Lerner claimed. “And the movie’s a piece of (expletive).”
Lerner also appeared in several greater blockbusters in excess of the yrs, such as “Godzilla” as Mayor Ebert, “X-Adult males: Times of Future Past,” as Senator Brickman, and “Mirror Mirror” as Baron.
“Those are superior areas but not fantastic acting roles,” Lerner claimed.
And he never ever felt cheated by currently being known as a “character actor” rather than a main person. In 1999, in an interview with Cigar Aficionado, he stated, merely, “Every purpose is a character position.”