Michael Lerner, actor known for ‘Elf’ and ‘Barton Fink’, dies at 81

Michael Lerner, an Oscar-nominated actor with over 180 credits, including “Elf” and “Barton Fink,” has died.

He was 81 years old.

“The Goldbergs” star Sam Lerner, his nephew, memorialized the actor in an Instagram post on Sunday.

“We lost a legend last night,” Sam Lerner captioned a series of photos. “He was the coolest, most confident, talented guy, and the fact that he was my blood will always make me feel special. Everyone that knows him knows how insane he was— in the best way.”

Lerner was born in Brooklyn on June 22, 1941 and studied drama at Brooklyn College. After studying in London on a Fulbright scholarship, he joined the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles and began his decades-long Hollywood career.

During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, he appeared in TV shows like “M*A*S*H,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “Hill Street Blues,” “The Candidate” starring Robert Redford, “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Eight Men Out” and “Harlem Nights,” with Eddie Murphy.

In 1991, he received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for his turn as a wrestling-picture-focused studio executive in “Barton Fink,” starring John Turturro and John Goodman. He later worked with the Coen Brothers again on “A Serious Man.”

Describing how the nomination changed his career, Lerner told The AV Club in 2016, “Yeah, you make more money.”

After his nomination, Lerner appeared in big-budget films like “Elf,” “Godzilla” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” as well as a number of TV series, including “Clueless,” “Law and Order: SVU,” and “Glee.”

His final film credit was 2015′s “Ashby.”

He is survived by his nephew Sam and his brother, fellow actor Ken Lerner.