‘Barton Fink,’ ‘Elf’ Star Michael Lerner Dead At 81

Academy-award nominated actor Michael Lerner has died, his nephew, actor Sam Lerner, revealed Sunday on social media. Lerner was 81.

Sam wrote on his Instagram account: “We lost a legend last night. It’s hard to put into words how brilliant my uncle Michael was, and how influential he was to me.”

“His stories always inspired me and made me fall in love with acting,” Lerner added. “He was the coolest, most confident, talented guy, and the fact that he was my blood will always make me feel special. Everyone that knows him knows how insane he was— in the best way.”

“I’m so lucky I got to spend so much time with him, and we’re all lucky we can continue to watch his work for the rest of time,” the actor’s nephew continued. “RIP Michael, enjoy your unlimited Cuban cigars, comfy chairs, and endless movie marathon.”

Michael Lerner, ‘Barton Fink’ Actor, Dies at 81 https://t.co/em680Gr0Rj

— Variety (@Variety) April 9, 2023

There was no information provided about the cause of death.

Lerner is probably best known for his work in movies like the monster Christmas 2003 hit “Elf” alongside Will Ferrell and James Caan. He also got his first Oscar nod as the overbearing studio head Jack Lipnick in the 1991 film “Barton Fink,” CNN reported.

In 2016, Lerner said after reading the “Barton Fink” script, he knew he wanted to be part of it, the outlet noted.

“I read the script, and you just know good writing,” Lerner said. “It was brilliantly written, and I just knew it. I did the monologue the way I wanted to do it and I just walked of the room and that was it. And Joel [Coen] and Ethan [Coen] were just sitting in a corner just laughing and laughing and that was it.”


His acting career goes back decades when he made appearances on several classic shows, including “The Doris Day Show,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and “M*A*S*H.”


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