- Albert Lawrence Brooks
July 22, 1947 (age 73)
- Comedian, Actor, Screenwriter, Film Director, Voice Actor, Television Director
- Kimberly Shlain (m. 1997)
- Thelma Leeds, Harry Parke
Albert Lawrence Brooks (born Albert Lawrence Einstein; July 22, 1947) is an American actor, filmmaker and comedian. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for 1987's Broadcast News. His voice acting credits include Marlin in Finding Nemo, and recurring guest voices for The Simpsons, including Russ Cargill in The Simpsons Movie (2007). Additionally, he has directed, written, and starred in several comedy films, such as Modern Romance (1981), Lost in America (1985), and Defending Your Life (1991) and is the author of 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America (2011).
Brooks was born in Beverly Hills, California, the son of 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 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 (1926–2007), a writer for such television programs as Playhouse 90 and Lou Grant. Brooks is Jewish; 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.
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 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. He had already made his first short film, The Famous Comedians School, a satiric short and an early example of the mockumentary subgenre that appeared on the PBS show The Great American Dream Machine in 1972.
In 1975, he 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. The role reflected Brooks's 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's character was the only one in the movie that he could not "understand" – a remark that Brooks found amusing, as the movie's antihero was a psychotic loner.
Brooks directed his first feature film, Real Life, in 1979. The film, in which Brooks (playing a version of himself) 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. (He also got starring credits in the film, even though his character dies within roughly the first half-hour of the film.)
In 1997, Brooks married website designer Kimberly Shlain, daughter of surgeon and writer Leonard Shlain. They have two children, Jacob and Claire, and reside in Santa Monica, California.