If it seems that Paul Reiser is everywhere these days, you’re not mistaken. With roles in The Kominsky method, stranger things and The boys, a whole new generation comes to respect the talents of Reiser. A Reisersance, if you will, along the likes of Keanussance, McConaissance, Goldblumassance and Pfeifferssance. And if we’re lucky, the Shyamalanassance, because it looks awesome. Paul Reiser – actor, comedian, TV writer, author – is back, baby, but where was he? The truth is, aside from a period of time between 2002 and 2011 when Reiser was only on screen in a few projects, he never really went away.
Reiser began his career as a stand-up comedian. His routines skipped politics in favor of pontificating on relatable topics in a mildly neurotic way. In 1982 he got his big break in film dinner, playing Modell, a budding comedian. Now on Hollywood’s radar, Reiser followed suit playing Detective Jeffrey Friedman in 1994’s Beverly Hills Copa role he would revisit in the 1987 sequel, the cleverly named Beverly Hills Cop II. If Reiser wasn’t known yet, he was about to be.
Playing against type, Reiser landed the role of villainous, slimy Weyland-Yutani Corporation executive Carter J. Burke in 1986. aliens, and it is perfect. What made his performance so great was that he played himself, more or less, in the first half of the movie. Friendly, pushing the “I’m on your side” angle with Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) until Ripley and the moviegoer truly believe Burke is trustworthy. So when his true purpose in going to LV-426 is revealed, bringing xenomorphs to Earth for bioweapons research (and for profit), it’s a punch in the gut. Burke is so insensitive, in fact, that he locks out both Ripley and Newt (Carrie Henn) in a medical lab with two facehuggers, positioning the two to be impregnated, thus bypassing Earth quarantine. An act so Machiavellian that even star wars‘ Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) said, “Shit, son, it’s cold.”
Seizing the moment, Reiser’s star hit the stratosphere with the lead role in a TV series double My two dads (1987-90) and Crazy of you (1992-99, 2019). In My two dadsReiser is one of two possible fathers of 12-year-old Nicole Bradford (Staci Keanan), both of whom received custody of the girl after her mother’s death. The moderately successful show is really only missing ABBAan off-key Pierce Brosnan, and Greece. In mad success Crazy of youReiser and actress Helen Hunt play Paul and Jamie Buchman, a newly married couple navigating life in New York. What makes the show unique is the deliberate intention to make it feel and be real, not a race to wrap up goofy hijinks in 20 minutes. The two stars share perfect chemistry, playing against each other as their characters deal with life’s ups and downs. Along with earning rave reviews for its realistic and humorous portrayal of marriage, the series has won 12 of 34 Primetime Emmy Awards, 4 of 13 Golden Globe Awards, 7 of 14 American Comedy Awards, and more. Surprisingly, Reiser was mostly bridesmaid and never bride – even guest stars Mel Brooks and carol burnet won more awards for her work on the show. Hunt is the one with the most acting wins, but that says more about how the two worked together and how it improved their performances. After the show, Reiser did a few projects, including hosting the 37th Annual Grammy Awardsbefore falling into the aforementioned 2002-11 abyss, the Reiser the dark ages.
Then the Renaissance began. The Paul Reiser Show, a Paul Reiser sitcom starring Paul Reiser as Paul Reiser premiered in April 2011. It was a spectacular flop, canceled after just two episodes, so maybe you’re not reporting the Reiserssance yet. 2014 critically acclaimed Whiplash (now cue the Reiserssance) featured Reiser’s return to the big screen as Jim Neiman, the father of protagonist music student Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller). So, BLAM!, a torrent of projects, a Reiserricane if you will. Amazon Prime Video Drama Series red oaks (2014-17) features Reiser in a supporting role as Doug Getty, president of a Jewish country club. His recurring role in the Netflix phenomenon stranger things because Dr. Sam Owens is probably the one new Reiser fans most associate with the actor. The sympathetic Owens, who replaced Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine) as Director of Operations at Hawkins Lab, is a key ally of stranger things‘ protagonists, even arranging the adoption of Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) by Jim Hopper (David Harbor). At Netflix The Kominsky methodReiser plays Martin Schneider, the boyfriend of acting coach and former actor Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas) his daughter Mindy (Sarah Baker).
But wait, there’s more! Season 3 of Amazon Prime Video’s hit series The boys lets Reiser go wild as The Legend, a swaggering, cigar-snoring, cocaine-snorting sleazeball informant who (DISCLOSURE) gives The Boys a lead on the whereabouts of Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles), who goes on a rampage and blows things up in Manhattan after he accidentally breaks out of a Russian facility. Although he only appeared in a few episodes, Reiser’s memorable portrayal proved to be wildly popular, so he’s likely to score additional scenes in future episodes of the series. Even if future apparitions do not materialize on this show, the future of Reiserssance is secured with an upcoming TV series on Hulu, To restart. The Creator’s Comedy Series Steven Levitan is about the dysfunctional cast of an early 2000s sitcom, who must resolve their differences when a young writer proposes a resurrection of his show – a To restart, so to speak (wink wink). Reiser, who is now the undisputed face of all streaming services and will be called Lord Streamington from today, will play Gordon, the creator of Go up to the rightthe fake sitcom being rebooted.
Yes, my friends, this is a new golden age of Reiserness, and wherever the affable Reiser appears next – print, stage, television, film, drama or comedy – it would be unwise to count him. Because even if it’s off the radar, you can guarantee there will be a… Reiserrection.