Steal The Leads: Alan Arkin

Alan Arkin died this week. Something about the guy that had this core of humanity in whatever he did. I first saw Alan Arkin when I was a teen, before he became famous. He was a member of the famed Second City improv group which was a totally new kind of thing at the time. The audience would call out a time, place, and a beginning and closing line, and then the actors would improv some hilarious scene on the spot incorporating those elements. The performers were all very good, but Arkin was the standout by far. And then he was in the play of Murray Schisgal’s Luv, where he spends the whole play on top of a bridge, ready to jump, because he feels unloved, and he made that true, but very funny too. He could handle drama also–his role as one of the real estate agents in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross was really excellent and touching. He was really a unique presence in everything he did. You knew you would see something interesting no matter how good or bad the rest of the movie or play was. Above you can see him in a scene with Ed Harris in Glengarry Glen Ross as a failed real estate agent trying to get the good leads. In his later years, he wasn’t always the lead, but he often stole them.