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How Judd Hirsch Made Most of Fableman’s Short Screen Time – The Hollywood Reporter


With over 50 credits, two Tony Awards, a pair of Emmys, a Golden Globe and now his second Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Steven Spielberg Fablemans – More than 40 years since the last year, in the 80’s normal people Judd Hirsch is one of the most respected and hardest actors in the business. But his reasoning at work is always quite simple: “When I act, I’m alive — and when I’m not, it’s, uh, just me, who’s hanging around.”

The length of Hirsch’s career is something, but he’s quick to mention that it took a bit to find success. “I didn’t get on boards until about 30,” he says of when he started getting roles on stage, screen and TV. But his real breakthrough still takes some time. “I was 42 when I did it Taxi,” he says of his time as Alex Rieger, the world-weary but kind-hearted taxi driver on the sitcom that ushered in Hirsch’s golden period and won him the bulk of his award and nominations.

But the actor has kept himself constantly busy and last year filmed the upcoming Kelly Reichardt movie show And he appeared for a few memorable minutes as Sammy Fabelman’s Uncle Boris in Spielberg’s uncensored film about his life.

I didn’t get an answer from Stephen as to why he chose me [Boris’] age, but I don’t speak like him,” he says, adding, “The interesting thing about it FablemansEveryone’s name is fake. But my name is the only real one – that was his uncle’s real name. I just discovered it.”

In true Hirsch fashion, he didn’t take a vacation after that Fablemans. He’s back in action with a starring role in it Mordecaia heartwarming indie film about an elderly Polish Jew trying to navigate a changing contemporary world, reunites Hirsch with Taxi Co-star Carol Kane. Hirsch mentions a particular scene from their days on TV when Kane—who plays Simca Gravas, the immigrant wife of Andy Kaufman’s Latka—suggests that Alex and Simca try to make up for her husband’s infidelity with another female taxi driver. “Carol falls on the couch and says, ‘Peel me like a grape so I can get out of here,’ and that’s where our chemistry began.” Hirsch says the two have been friends ever since. “We zoom in every month.”

After all these years of hard work, Hirsch has more than a few friends in the industry like Ken, and he also has a lot of insight. He can and has played a lot of lead roles, but he has a philosophy when it comes to supporting roles that have garnered him two Academy Award nominations. “It’s the perfection of the job that has no obligation to make the movie happen,” he says. “But it’s an undeniable part of a movie, without which the movie wouldn’t be so good.”

This story first appeared in the March 1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to subscribe.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.