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Movie Mom

Stephen Tobolowsky on the Life of a Character Actor

posted by Nell Minow

You may not know his name, but you know his face.  He’s this guy:


Stephen Tobolowsky has appeared in movies from “Spaceballs” to “Thelma and Louise,” “Memento,” and “Freaky Friday” and television series like “Glee” and “Deadwood.”  He is best remembered as the obnoxious Ned Ryerson in “Groundhog Day.”  He has written a new book about his adventures in acting called The Dangerous Animals Club, and talked about it in a delightful interview with Terry Gross on “Fresh Air.”  He is very funny explaining how the star parts get both first and last names in the credits — and sometimes even a title like Dr. or Detective, or Captain Jack Sparrow while the parts he plays usually get just one name or just a description: train passenger, or, worse, train passenger #4, or worst, “butt crack guy,” an actual role he actually played.  Tobolowsky is an insightful and very witty observer of Hollywood, but more important, he is an actor who brings everything he has to every part he plays.

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