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Dear IMDb: Actors have a tendency toward narcissism, so I try not to Google myself too often. Of course, occasionally I need reassurance that there is, in fact, a body of work attached to my name.
But reassurance is not what I get when I click on my name at IMDb, the industry’s bible for factual information about movies, television shows and the people who make them. Yes, my credits are listed (more or less correctly) on the site. But IMDb informs me that Robert Lesser is a 73-year-old gentleman who was born in Los Angeles on May 28, 1938.
Time marches on, but not that fast.
The real Robert Lesser — me — was born in New York almost five years later than IMDb says I arrived on planet Earth. In spite of the salt-and-pepper hair, I still look and feel like a young Turk (though I’m not actually Turkish — but I can play one, not to mention other ethnicities from Swedish to Tahitian or whatever your movie needs!).
However, all my efforts to persuade you to restore me to my actual age have come to naught. I have offered to send copies of my passport, birth certificate and driver’s license — only to be informed that those documents would need to be provided by the issuing authorities. Do not try to call us for help, I have been sternly admonished; you do not have a phone. And e-mails requesting corrections are answered curtly from the address email@example.com. I even thought of submitting the yearbook from New York’s High School of Music & Art that can attest to my status as a member of the Class of 1960. That’s the same school as TV producer Steven Bochco, filmmaker Peter Hyams and director James Burrows (of course, he’s older than me). Perhaps you were misled by my role in 1975’s Hester Street, where I played a lawyer who was bested by Carol Kane. True, he was an older man — but hey, I was acting.
I give up. Lord knows the legions of actors who have fruitlessly attempted to right misinformation on your site, only to be rebuffed or ignored.
I understand your policy is an attempt to stymie impostors who might seek to prolong their time as “leading men.” I admit I would like to linger in that category for as long as possible. I’ve even been putting money aside for a little nip and tuck down the road. But I don’t want to be rushed.
So what will it take for you to make this right? I hear that an actress named Jane Doe (curious stage name) is suing IMDb for $1 million for publishing that she actually is 40 years old. In Hollywood, “youth is king,” explains her lawyer. If that’s true, you can imagine my potential damages!
The truth is, I would rather not disclose my age at all. Actors should only have to discuss their age in terms of range; in my case, I would say my range is between 45 and 70. Perhaps when I actually turn 73, I’ll change it to between 48 and 70. But until then, with daily workouts, dietary supplements, Chinese herbs and hair-follicle stimulation, I intend to hold my place in the middle of middle age.
It is difficult for me — as it would be for a court of law — to calculate the impact that your “willful disregard” for my correct age has had on my career. However, if you would consider changing my profile to lop just 10 years off my actual age, I could be persuaded not to sue to recover damages for all those leading-man parts lost and the mountain of earnings and royalties I would have made.
It’s only fair. Perhaps then I can rid myself of the old man who bears my name. Unless, of course, some A-list director happens to be looking to cast an elderly guy who doesn’t look his age.
Robert Lesser, 69, is an actor whose IMDb page is correct when it says he has appeared in 53 films and television series including Die Hard, The Big Easy, 2010 and Quantum Leap.
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