Noah Baumbach's Agent Has a Brief Cameo in 'Marriage Story'

"As agents, we mostly labor in the shadows. Noah [Baumbach] has permitted me to be a collaborator," says UTA partner Jeremy Barber.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
'Marriage Story' team members: Netflix's Scott Stuber, left, poses with Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, writer-director Noah Baumbach and Ray Liotta and UTA partner Jeremy Barber

It turns out that Adam Driver isn’t the only actor to appear in three Noah Baumbach movies.

UTA partner Jeremy Barber, 53, also has pulled off the Baumbach trifecta. In Marriage Story, Barber cameos as an attorney consoling a client in a hallway outside a courtroom toward the end of the well-reviewed Netflix divorce drama, starring Driver opposite Scarlett Johansson.

“I have to say he was very well cast in Marriage Story because he’s playing a peacemaker,” Baumbach says of Barber, who has been his agent since 2005’s The Squid and the Whale, another divorce drama. “There’s a couple fighting in the hallway and he’s trying to calm it down. That’s sort of what he does as an agent.”

And though agents are frequently depicted onscreen (think Ari Emanuel sendup Ari Gold in Entourage played by Jeremy Piven), agents rarely appear in their clients’ films. But Barber also appeared (at the request of Sigourney Weaver) in the director’s 2017 The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) as well as 2010’s Greenberg. In fact, Baumbach’s partner Greta Gerwig, also repped by Barber, was most impressed by his performance in the latter.

“I think his finest work is in Greenberg when he’s laughing and applauding,” says Gerwig, who played the female lead in the film. “He laughs and he claps. His laughter already indicates appreciation — clapping seems superfluous.”

Barber admits his laugh is “hyena-like,” which helped make the scene memorable, but with Marriage Story, he also makes a bigger impression. Though Driver and Johansson are largely referred to by their first names, Charlie and Nicole, there’s a scene when Charlie’s attorney, played by Ray Liotta, says, “Get me the Barber file.”

“Noah asked if I would be OK if my surname was used,” Barber tells THR. “I would lend Noah whatever he wants for his art including my person.”

Barber agrees with Baumbach that the Marriage Story role is a good “fit,” but that even though he considers Baumbach a longtime friend in addition to client, he still had to put in the same work as the other actors. “I was not immune to what everyone is not immune to in working with Noah — and that is a lot of takes — and then we turned around and did a lot more takes. I got to experience his precision,” Barber explains, adding that, with Marriage Story, Baumbach has delivered something that fits in with the larger narrative arc of his career. “There’s something that feels culminating … and there’s a hopefulness in this movie that is more present.”

On a lighter note personally, Barber has been able to experience the film during its festival showings along with his UTA colleagues who have not missed catching his star turn. “I get made fun of for sure,” he says. “There’s a chuckle you can hear spill through the theater.”

But seriously: “As agents, we mostly labor in the shadows and out of sight aside from being thanked at award shows. [To be in his films] speaks, at some level, that Noah has permitted me to be a collaborator as well as a representative in his career. It’s nice. I love Noah and the opportunity to be a participant in his career. He’s doing something really special.” 

A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.