Tag Archives: Lee Wilkof

Hard Knock Life

No Pay, Nudity

by Hope Madden

Director (Ohio’s own) Lee Wilkof and screenwriter Ethan Sandler tap into years of collective wisdom from the inside to create a bittersweet, in-the-know glimpse at the near-thankless life of the workaday actor.

Gabriel Byrne, low key but excellent, is Lester Rosenthal – or Lawrence Rose, as the old playbill would have read. He’s having a hell of a time, as his longtime friend Hershel (Nathan Lane) explains to us via narration.

He’s a New York actor. An aging one whose dog just died, who hasn’t worked too steadily since that soap opera killed him off a few years back, who whiles away his days with similarly stagnant thesps in the Actors’ Equity Lounge, who may be willing to accept the role as King Lear’s Fool – in Dayton.

A mash note to the beleaguered actor in it for the long haul, No Pay, Nudity hits more often than it misses. The filmmakers possess a clear, lived-in knowledge of this world, this life. The yarn they spin is as empathetic as it is frustrated, and Byrne effortlessly embodies this embittered, wearied soul.

The premise is a bit slight and the resolution a tad rushed, but Wilkof and company make up for most of that with insight and affection to spare.