Actor Michael Stuhlbarg has combined a stage career with work on the TV series Boardwalk Empire and films like A Serious Man, Men in Black III and Hitchcock.
Michael Stuhlbarg was born on July 5, 1968, in Long Beach, California. He attended The Juilliard School in New York and has performed in many theater productions, including The Pillowman in 2005 and Hamlet in Central Park in 2008. He is also a successful film actor, appearing in major releases A Serious Man, Men in Black III, Hitchcock and Lincoln, as well as the HBO drama series Boardwalk Empire.
Early Life and Education
Michael S. Stuhlbarg was born on July 5, 1968, in Long Beach, California, to Morton and Susan Stuhlbarg. As a child, he was more interested in drawing cartoons than in acting; however, at age 11 he took part in a community production of Bye Bye Birdie as a member of the crew and chorus and fell in love with theater.
After high school, Stuhlbarg attended the University of California, Los Angeles' School of Theater, Film, and Television for two years. He then transferred to The Juilliard School in New York, where he studied from 1988 to 1992, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in the drama program. While at Juilliard, Stuhlbarg became friends and housemates with Tony Award-winning actress Viola Davis.
After graduation from Juilliard, Michael Stuhlbarg began a stage career in New York. In the 1990s he appeared in several Broadway productions of classical and modern dramas staged by the National Actors Theatre, including George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan and Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. He also acted in Sam Mendes's Broadway revival of Cabaret in 1999 and received favorable notices for his performance in Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love in 2001.
Stuhlbarg was cast in multiple New York Shakespeare Festival productions, including Twelfth Night and Richard II (in which he performed the title role). He took on one of theater’s legendary lead roles in Hamlet, produced by the Public Theater in Central Park’s Delacorte Theater in 2008.
In another prominent theater appearance, Stuhlbarg received positive reviews and a Tony nomination for his portrayal of a mentally disabled man in Martin McDonagh's black comedy The Pillowman in 2005.
Film and Television Career
Stuhlbarg made his first film appearance in 1998, in a small role in the drama A Price Above Rubies. A decade later, he was still appearing in minor parts, such as in the cerebral comedy Cold Souls and the action-thriller Body of Lies. However, an audition with Joel and Ethan Coen landed Stuhlbarg the lead role in A Serious Man in 2009. Stuhlbarg’s performance as troubled professor Larry Gopnik brought him a Golden Globe nomination and a new level of fame.
Stuhlbarg’s career in television followed a similar trajectory, from small parts to a breakthrough role. He appeared on episodes of Ugly Betty and Law & Order before being cast as the Jewish racketeer and gambler Arnold Rothstein in the period gangster series Boardwalk Empire, which first aired on HBO in 2010. The pilot of Boardwalk Empire was directed by Martin Scorsese, with whom Stuhlbarg worked again when he played a film historian in Scorsese’s Hugo (2011).
Stuhlbarg's film career reached new heights in 2012, beginning with his appearance as a time-traveling alien in the mainstream hit Men in Black III, and a part in the contemporary gangster comedy Seven Psychopaths. In late 2012, Stuhlbarg was featured in two major releases: He was as Hollywood agent and studio executive Lew Wasserman, acting alongside Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren; and he appeared in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (2012) as George Yeaman, a congressman from Abraham Lincoln's home state of Kentucky. Other include Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Strathairn and John Hawkes. In 2013, Stuhlbarg appeared in the acclaimed Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine.