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Albert Brooks (born Albert Lawrence Einstein; July 22, 1947) is an American actor, comedian, writer, and director. 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 neo-noir 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 recurring guest voices for ''The Simpsons'', including Russ Cargill in ''The Simpsons Movie'' (2007) and Hank Scorpio in "You Only Move Twice".

Early life

Brooks was born Albert Lawrence Einstein into a Jewish show business family in Beverly Hills, California, to Thelma Leeds (née Goodman), a singer and actress, and Harry Einstein, a radio comedian who performed on Eddie Cantor's radio program and was known as "Parkyakarkus". His brothers are the late comedic actor Bob Einstein, better known as a character he created named "Super Dave Osborne", and for a recurring role in ''Curb Your Enthusiasm''; and Cliff Einstein, a partner and longtime chief creative officer at Los Angeles advertising agency Dailey & Associates. His half-brother was Charles Einstein, 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.

Career



Early career

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 began a comedy career and 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 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. 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.

1981–1999

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. 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's ''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 offbeat 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'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 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.

2000–present

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 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’." In 2016, Brooks voiced Tiberius, a curmudgeonly red-tailed hawk in ''The Secret Life of Pets'', and reprised the role of Marlin from ''Finding Nemo'' in the 2016 sequel ''Finding Dory''. ''Dory'' is Brooks's largest grossing film to date.

Personal life

In 1997, Brooks married artist Kimberly Shlain, daughter of surgeon and writer Leonard Shlain. They have two children, Jacob and Claire.

Filmography



Film



Television



Audiobooks



Production work



Writer



Director



References



External links

* * * * Interview
Albert Brooks: Comedy And Dystopia
On Point.
The films of Albert Brooks
''Hell Is For Hyphenates'', January 31, 2014 {{DEFAULTSORT:Brooks, Albert Category:1947 births Category:20th-century American male actors Category:21st-century American male actors Category:American male film actors Category:American male voice actors Category:American people of Austrian-Jewish descent Category:American people of Russian-Jewish descent Category:American male screenwriters Category:American stand-up comedians Category:Beverly Hills High School alumni Category:Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts alumni Category:Comedy film directors Category:Jewish American male actors Category:Jewish American writers Category:Living people Category:Male actors from Beverly Hills, California Category:Male actors from Los Angeles Category:Jewish American comedians Category:Comedians from California Category:Film directors from Los Angeles Category:Screenwriters from California Category:ABC Records artists Category:Asylum Records artists