AFI Fest 2023 | Ahead of the premiere of a new Albert Brooks documentary, ‘Defending My Life,’ who is he?
You may not be familiar with the face but you most certainly will be familiar with the dulcet tones of Albert Brookes, the subject of a new documentary at AFI Fest 2023
Though the name might not be familiar to some people, his voice is almost instantly recognisable as ‘that guy’ from television series The Simpsons through to voicing clownfish in Disney animated films. Actor Albert Brooks is the subject of a new documentary, ‘Albert Brooks: Defending My Life,’ which premieres today at the AFI Festival 2023.
Brooks’ voice has been a mainstay on ‘The Simpsons’ and despite not being a main voice cast member, is very much considered alongside the late Phil Hartman as one of the definitive voice roles in the long-running series. During his guest appearances on the show, Brooks voiced bowling alley lothario Jacques, Homer Simpson’s short-lived Bond villain with a heart boss Hank Scorpio and the Head of the EPA, Russ Cargill, in ‘The Simpsons Movie’ in 2007.
Away from Springfield, he is also best known as the voice of Marlin, the single parent of clownfish Nemo in the ‘Finding Nemo’ film series but older readers may recall his Academy-nominated role in the 1987 film ‘Broadcast News,’ where he played the brilliant yet prickly reporter Aaron Altman, while Ryan Gosling fans might also remember him as Bernie in the neo-noir film ‘Drive’ in 2011.
The documentary has been a long-time project for director Rob Reiner, the man behind the classic mockumentary ‘This is Spinal Tap.’ “Albert is my really, really close friend,” the director explained to Variety in May 2022. “I’ve already spent half-a-day with Albert, just the two of us talking and doing things.”
The documentary is set to have a stellar ‘who’s who’ lineup of people who have worked with Brooks before, including Larry David, Conan O’Brien, Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, James L. Brooks, Judd Apatow, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes and Jonah Hill as well as Sharon Stone, who worked with Brooks on 1999’s ‘The Muse.’
Who is Albert Brooks?
Albert Brooks, born Albert Lawrence Einstein on July 22, 1947, is an accomplished American actor, comedian, writer, and director, renowned for his distinctive comedic style and contributions to the entertainment industry. Hailing from a family deeply rooted in show business, he was born into a Jewish family in Beverly Hills, California, to Thelma Leeds, an actress, and Harry Einstein, a radio comedian famously known as "Parkyakarkus." Brooks grew up alongside his older brothers, Bob Einstein, a celebrated comedic actor, and Clifford Einstein, a prominent figure in the advertising world.
Brooks initially pursued his education at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he briefly attended classes with notable classmates Michael McKean and David L. Lander. However, he quickly diverted his focus to his burgeoning career in comedy, showcasing his wit and charm on various television talk shows in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
He notably gained attention as a writer and guest performer for the radio and LP comedy group The Credibility Gap, alongside McKean, Lander and fellow ‘Simpsons’ regular Harry Shearer. Brooks's on-stage persona, characterized by his self-deprecating humour and insightful social commentary, left a lasting impression on the comedy scene, influencing a generation of post-modern comedians like Steve Martin and Andy Kaufman.
Transitioning into the realm of filmmaking, Brooks directed his first feature film, ‘Real Life,’ in 1979, co-writing it with Shearer. The film humorously parodied the popular PBS documentary series ‘An American Family’ and was regarded as a precursor to the rise of reality television. He continued to make waves in the film industry with his directorial efforts, including the critically acclaimed ‘Lost in America’ in 1985 and the thought-provoking ‘Defending Your Life’ in 1991, where he expertly portrayed the anxieties and dilemmas of human existence.
In his personal life, Brooks is married to artist Kimberly Shlain, and they share two children, Jacob and Claire.
When does ‘Albert Brooks: Defending My Life’ screen at the AFI Festival 2023?
‘Albert Brooks: Defending My Life’ premieres at TCL Chinese 1 on October 26 2023 at 8:30 pm