Oscar Actors: Lerner, Michael–Background, Career, Awards

Updated July 1, 2020
Michael Lerner Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: NA; brother and nephew actors

Social Class: middle; father fisherman; mother antique dealer

Race/Ethnicity: Jewish


Education: Brooklyn College

Training: RADA

Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut: SF; age 24

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut: Alex in Wonderland, 1970; age 29

Breakthrough Role:

Oscar Role: Jewish film producer, Lipnick

Other Noms: Barton Fink, 1991; age 50

Other Awards:

Frequent Collaborator:

Favorite Actor: Edward G. Robinson

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

Career Output:

Film Career Span:




Michael C. Lerner (born June 22, 1941) was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Barton Fink (1991). Lerner has also played Arnold Rothstein in Eight Men Out (1988), Phil Gillman in Amos & Andrew (1993), The Warden in No Escape (1994), Mayor Ebert in Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla (1998), Mr. Greenway in Elf (2003), and Senator Brickman in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).

Lerner was born in Brooklyn, New York, of Romanian-Jewish descent, the son of Blanche and George Lerner, a fisherman and antiques dealer.

He was raised in the Bensonhurst and Red Hook neighborhoods. His brother, Ken Lerner, is also an actor, as is his nephew, Sam Lerner.

After graduating from Brooklyn College and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), Lerner began his acting career in the late 1960s at the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco. At the age of 24 he appeared as “Hieronymous the Miser” in a KPFA radio production of Michel de Ghelderode’s Breugelesque play, Red Magic.

During the 1970s, Lerner began making several guest appearances in television shows such as The Brady Bunch, The Odd Couple and M*A*S*H. He appeared in three episodes of The Rockford Files. In 1974, he appeared in the teleplay The Missiles of October, playing Pierre Salinger.

In 1970, Lerner made his film debut in Alex in Wonderland.

He then went on to appear in supporting roles in various Hollywood movies such as The Candidate, St. Ives and the 1981 remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice.

In 1991, after co-starring in Harlem Nights, Lerner played film producer Jack Lipnick in Barton Fink, for which he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

Lerner’s later projects include the Christmas comedy Elf and Poster Boy, as well as appearing in television programs such as Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and Entourage.

In 2002, he appeared in London’s West End production of Up for Grabs with Madonna. Michael also appeared on BBC Radio Four in 2008 as a member of the cast of David Quantick’s Radio Four’s series One. He portrayed Senator Brickman in the Marvel Comics/Twentieth Century Fox film, X-Men: Days of Future Past.

In 2013, Lerner appeared in a Season 4 episode of Glee as Sidney Greene, an investor in the revival of Broadway musical Funny Girl. His character is on the panel of judges, watching the Rachel Berry character audition for the lead role. He reprised his role as Sidney in Season 5 in several New York-based episodes of the series, as Funny Girl opens on Broadway.

His favorite actor is the late Edward G. Robinson.