Who Is Michael Stuhlbarg?

By Grove, Lloyd | Newsweek, May 28, 2012 | Go to article overview

Who Is Michael Stuhlbarg?


Grove, Lloyd, Newsweek


Byline: Lloyd Grove

Weeks into the filming of Men in Black 3, director Barry Sonnenfeld started to believe that Michael Stuhlbarg was not just portraying an extraterrestrial, he actually was one.

Stuhlbarg, who plays Griffin the Archanan, a pivotal character who visualizes multiple versions of the future, threw himself into the role with startling fervor. "His script and notebook were filled with tiny scribbles, notes, diagrams," Sonnenfeld tells Newsweek. "It made me suspect that perhaps I had actually cast an alien. To Michael, all his little notations made sense. To me, they were scary and indecipherable."

His costar Josh Brolin, who hilariously mimics Tommy Lee Jones as the younger Agent K, also marvels at Stuhlbarg's exacting zeal. "He is all about specificity," Brolin says. "He brings his notebook everywhere he goes. It's a real science to him."

For the 43-year-old Stuhlbarg--a veteran of the stage who only recently has made a splash in film (as the title character in Joel and Ethan Coen's much-lauded 2009 dark comedy A Serious Man) and cable (portraying elegant gangster Arnold Rothstein in HBO's Boardwalk Empire)--MIB3 is the breakout moment. It's his introduction to the masses, an augury of his metamorphosis from actor's actor to movie star.

"Film, for me, has been a process of learning on the job," says Stuhlbarg, sipping a cafe con leche at an Upper West Side Cuban diner. …

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