Random Roles: Paul Reiser talks Red Oaks, Diner, and owing his career to a lucky break

Welcome to Random Roles, wherein we talk to actors about the characters who defined their careers. The catch: They don’t know beforehand what roles we’ll ask them to talk about.

The actor: Paul Reiser’s 30-plus year career has spanned genres and media, a remarkable feat for someone whose early aspirations were mostly limited to stand-up comedy. A chance encounter landed the up-and-coming comic a part in Barry Levinson’s Diner, which also also launched Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Daniel Stern, Tim Daly, and Steve Guttenberg, and set Reiser on a path to blockbuster comedies (the first two Beverly Hills Cop films), action movies (Aliens), numerous TV roles (including his massively successful sitcom, Mad About You), and bestselling books. When Mad About You finished its run in 1999, Reiser slowed down and mostly stayed behind the scenes of other projects. He re-emerged in 2011 with a famously short-lived …

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