I love it when my friends hit big time, as they often do. A childhood friend of mine, Michael Stuhlbarg, has the lead in the new Coen Brothers film, "A Serious Man." (See the trailer here.)
Though a year younger than I, it was pretty evident to all of us in proximity that Michael's life trajectory was already determined: He was going to be an accomplished actor and that's all there was to it.
Along with a bunch of other ratty kids, I co-starred with him in a production of "Annie Get Your Gun" and he already seemed professional, even in high school. Atop of his endless talent, Michael was also unfailingly kind and polite. And with tongue firmly in cheek, I can finally use that age-old Hollywood cliche, "He was a dream to work with."
From graduation, Michael went straight to Juilliard and has never wanted for work since. The man has had one acting gig after the next - mostly on Broadway. He's played Hamlet in Central Park - always a golden gig for any actor - and been nominated for a Tony award. In a true testament of his talent, consider this: Michael has never been a waiter. Ever.
Sometime during the mid-90s, my pals, Michelle, Lisa and I visited New York and Michael kindly handed over the keys to his apartment while he stayed with his girlfriend. There was very little furniture in it but we were incredibly grateful.
At the time, Michael was starring in some play where he played the ghost of a tortured Jewish man. He had to look emaciated for the role and so our efforts to wine and dine our gratitude to Michael were for naught. There was one dinner where he ordered in that soft voice of his, "Just some water and some lettuce, please." Good grief! Talk about dedication.
So it with great joy that I congratulate Michael on scoring this fabulous role on film. I'm also glad that the world will soon become familiar with his immense talent and most of all, I'm relieved to see him in a role where he is allowed to eat.