The Arty Semite

Fred Melamed, The Most Serious Man of All

By Ezra Glinter

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Wilson Webb
Fred Melamed (left) stars as Sy Ableman in the Coen Brothers ‘A Serious Man.’

Larry Gopnik, the main character in the Coen brothers most recent and most Jewish film, “A Serious Man,” has been widely understood as Job-like figure. But what would Job be without Satan to test him? (Besides having more children and fewer boils, that is.)

Enter Sy Ableman, Larry’s beardy nemesis, whose role as self-righteous cuckolder well nigh stole the show and earned actor Fred Melamed some long deserved recognition. Over the years Melamed has appeared in several Woody Allen films (most notably as the shrink in “Hannah and Her Sisters”) and has played countless deep-voiced bit parts, but few have been as diabolically funny as his role in “A Serious Man.”

In a recent interview with New York Magazine’s Bilge Ebiri, Melamed discusses his long acting career, Woody Allen, what it’s like to work with the Coens (they’re very nice folks), and Philip Roth’s mother. Also, his goal to “bring the pompous, Jewish, overweight, rabbinic figure back to the center of American sexuality.” Read the whole thing here.


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