It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Albert Brooks is one of the greatest gems produced by America in the field of performance art, especially Cinema. Albert who impressed people with his stand-up comedy, was part of several television projects, before making a sensational movie debut with Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’. Since then, he has featured in dozens of films, television shows, and animated programs. Other than just being an actor, Albert has also established his identity as a filmmaker and a screenwriter. Several of Albert’s directorial ventures have been widely acclaimed. Other than his work, Albert is quite famous in the movie circles for his witty opinions. He was once quoted as saying ‘Being a screenwriter in Hollywood is like being a Eunuch at an orgy. Worse, actually, at least the Eunuch is allowed to watch’. Albert has been very choosy about the kind of movies he wants to be associated with. He turned down the lead role in the movie ‘When Harry met Sally’ since it seemed like a Woody Allen script, and Brooks was constantly being compared back then with Woody Allen for his comic timing.
Childhood & Early Life
Albert Brooks was born on 22 July 1947 to Harry Einstein and Thelma Leeds in Beverly Hills, California. Albert’s mother was an actress, whereas his father was a comedian who performed in radio shows. His original name was Albert Einstein, which he changed later.
Brooks lost his father to a heart attack, when he was barely eleven years old. Later, he pursued his primary education at the ‘Beverly Hills High School’, which boasts of celebrity alumni such as actors Angelina Jolie and Rob Reiner.
Brooks then moved to the prestigious ‘Carnegie Mellon University’ to pursue further studies, through a scholarship he had won for acting. However, Brooks dropped out of college within a year since he was interested in pursuing acting full-time.
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After appearing on a variety of talk shows through the 1960’s decades, Brooks made his first major television appearance in 1969 on a Dean Martin Variety show.
Albert Brooks’ first major appearance for TV was in the famous American television talk show ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’. His performance on the show influenced many others to turn comedians, including famous actor Steve Martin.
The early 1970’s saw the release of Albert Brooks’ two comedy albums ‘Comedy Minus One’ and ‘A Star is Bought’. Both these albums were equally successful. After these two works, Albert bid a temporary farewell to stand-up comedy.
In 1975, Brooks ventured into filmmaking, and went on to make six short films for the TV show ‘Saturday Night Live’, which was in its first season back then. ‘The Impossible Truth’, ‘Heart Surgery’, and ‘Sick’ are few of the short films he made for this television show, which was aired on CBC.
One of Albert’s most memorable roles was the character he portrayed in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Taxi Driver’. Released in 1975, the movie influenced Albert to relocate to Los Angeles.
Albert Brooks directed his first feature film called ‘Real Life’ in 1979. The movie was a spoof of the documentary series ‘The American Family’ which was aired on television back in the year 1971.
During the 1980’s, Brooks appeared in two films namely ‘The Modern Romance’ and ‘Lost in America’. While Lost in America is considered to be his best work so far, Brooks’ performance in ‘The Modern Romance’ was also well appreciated by critics.
Brooks proved his mettle as a filmmaker yet again in the 1991 film ‘Defending Your Life’. The movie was not just praised for its screenplay and direction, but also for Brooks acting, and the chemistry he shared with the legendary actress Meryl Steep.
In the later half of the 1990s, Brooks directed and performed in two other films namely ‘Mother’ (1996) and ‘The Muse’ (1999). Though not considered to be really path-breaking works, Brooks received positive review for his work.
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Brooks next appeared in the 2001 film ‘My First Mister’ where he shared screen space with actress Leelee Sobieski. This movie was well appreciated by critics.
Two years later, Brooks became a part of the highly popular animated movie ‘Finding Nemo’. He was the voice of the character ‘Marlin’, one of the few protagonists.
Brooks’ latest appearance was in the 2011 film titled ‘Drive’. He essayed the role of Bernie Rose, who was one of the antagonists, in this crime thriller film. The same year also saw the release of a book written by him, titled ‘2030’.
Though Brooks couldn’t have got a bigger break than his role in the Martin Scorsese film ‘Taxi Driver’, it was the 1987 film ‘Broadcast News’ which made him very popular. His role as a funny reporter in the movie, won Brooks an Academy Award.
Albert Brooks work was highly appreciated in the 2011 film ‘The Drive’. Though the movie starred popular actor Ryan Gosling in the lead, it was being claimed that Brooks’ portrayal of Bernie Rose is what stole the hearts of the critics and audiences alike. Brooks was nominated for and won many awards for the movie
Awards & Achievements
Albert was nominated in 1988 for the prestigious ‘Oscar Award, in the ‘Best Supporting Role’ category, for his film ‘Broadcast News’. He also won an ‘American Comedy’ award for being the funniest male performer.
Albert shared the ‘New York Film Critics Circle Awards’ category with Monica Mcgowan Johnson in 1996. The award belonged to the ‘Best Screenplay’ category, for the film ‘Mother’.
In 2011, Albert Brooks won almost a dozen awards for his role as Bernie Rose in the film ‘Drive’. Few of these honours were ‘Oklahoma Film Critics Circle (OFCC) Award’, ‘Phoenix Film Critics Society Award’, ‘Austin Film Critics Award’, and ‘Las Vegas Film Critics Award’. Albert was also nominated for many more awards for his role in the same film.
Personal Life & Legacy
Albert has a brother named Bob Einstein, who is also a well-known comedian. Bob is well-known for his character ‘Super Dave’. His mother, who had given up acting post marriage has also appeared in few of Brook’s films.
It was rumoured that Albert had an affair with actress Kathryn Harrold. He was even linked to other actresses such as Carrie Fisher and Julie Hagerty. However, Brooks got married to Kimberly Shlain in 1997, who was then a web designer. The couple have two kids, son Jacob, and daughter Claire.
The character Edward Lewis, played by actor Richard Gere in the blockbuster Hollywood movie ‘Pretty Woman’ was originally offered to Albert Brooks. However, the latter turned it down. He also rejected the lead role in the film ‘When Harry Met Sally’.