Stephen Tobolowsky On The Art Of Being A Character Actor

In case you haven't heard, actor Stephen Tobolowsky and I do a podcast for /Film called The Tobolowsky Files, which has been the subject of some humbling praise recently. While we're currently on hiatus until October, that didn't stop the folks at The New York Times from taking note of Stephen's amazing storytelling (which has also been published in The Awl).

Today, Stephen has written an op-ed for The New York Times entitled "They Had Great Character," a tribute to five character actors (Kevin McCarthy, Carl Gordon, Maury Chaykin, James Gammon, Harold Gould) who have passed recently, and a meditation on what it means to be a character actor:

My first day on "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray shook hands with me and said, "Hello, nice to meet you — now show me what you're going to do." I jumped into a few enormously energetic moments of Ned Ryerson and Bill held up his hand. "Fine, fine, you can do that," he said. "It's funny." Bill walked away.

I then asked the director, Harold Ramis, if I should play Ned a little more down to earth. Harold laughed and said: "No. Bill is the lead. He's the stew. When you are a supporting character, you are the spice in the stew. Have fun."

The whole piece is beautifully written, so I invite you to check it out.

[Thanks to Jessica Johnson for the above graphic.]