By Stacey Himmelberger
Paul Lieberstein '89 arrived at Hamilton intending to pursue a career in business, majored in economics and now works in one of the best-known offices in the country. It's so famous, in fact, that it doesn't even have a name — we know it simply as The Office.
When the winner of the 2006 Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series was announced last August, Lieberstein took the stage with his colleagues from the hit NBC show The Office. Since that honor, the writer, producer and actor has helped his team earn a Writers Guild Award for best comedy series and recognition from the Screen Actors Guild for best television comedy ensemble performance.
Unlike Lieberstein, many other alumni pursuing careers in front of the camera took to the stage during their years on College Hill. Here are a few faces you may recall from then ... and now.
Paul Lieberstein '89
Hamilton Major: Economics
Why Hamilton: I knew I wanted a small, liberal arts college, and Hamilton fit the picture I had in my head. It was an awesome day when I visited. It seemed so "collegey" and I liked the people. Plus Hamilton was known as a business feeder school, and I was caught up in that.
First Job After Hamilton: I worked as an auditor at Peat Marwick. I didn't last six months. It was like watching my soul drain out.
Moment You Knew You Wanted to Be a Writer: I did a lot of writing in high school and always loved sitcoms, sneaking in more than my allotted TV time as a kid. I had met some writers in New York who worked on Saturday Night Live and suddenly realized you could make a living this way — a good one. Two days after quitting my job, I finished a script for Cheers.
First Writing Job: I worked part-time in my father's law firm, actually working as little as I could so I could write. I did 10 scripts in two years. Eventually I moved to LA and got my first job as a staff writer on Clarissa Explains It All  and then Weird Science and The Naked Truth. [After that came five years as a producer and writer for the animated sitcom King of the Hill, for which he earned his first Emmy, and writing/producing roles with The Drew Carey Show, The Bernie Mac Show and Greg the Bunny.]
Current Project: I've been with The Office [NBC] since the beginning  as co-executive producer and writer. This is also the first time I've done any acting [as human resources director Toby Flenderson].
Best Part of Your Job: When we are in pre-production, this is the best job in the world. Working 10 to 7, sitting around and brainstorming with the other writers, making things funnier and writing and rewriting scenes — that's as fun as it gets. Adding acting on top of all that makes for incredibly long, grueling days, sometimes 6 to midnight. But acting has its own rewards. Comedy becomes intensified in short scenes. Doing a scene with Steve Carell, trying to keep up with him, is as tough and fun and weird as any part of the process.
Sources of Inspiration: I've used experiences from every job I have ever had, and even called up a few Hamilton friends who work in the corporate world and grilled them for what goes on [in their offices]. This is a different kind of show — so many people can relate to it. It's an intelligent audience. I used to have to beg my friends to watch my shows, but they watch this on their own.
On-Screen Role: I was originally going to do one line in the first episode, but the president of NBC saw my scene and said, "He's funny. Let's use more of him." I had no acting experience — my training came on the show by working with incredibly talented actors like Steve and Rainn Wilson.
Writing Versus Acting: I prefer writing, although being on the other side as an actor has informed my work. I do miss the anonymity. I was up in Napa last weekend when I heard someone shout from across the room, "Hey Toby!" and then "Hey, he looked." But there are some positives. I was at a new restaurant in Brentwood, where I live, and Helen Hunt was in front of me. She was waiting at the bar when the hostess recognized me and said she loved the show. I ended up getting a table while an Oscar winner was still waiting.
Future Projects: I'm letting myself do this for now. I can't imagine I'd like another show better. I do have a screenplay drafted that I'm tinkering with.
Hobbies: I've been doing some road biking and perfecting my automatic peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich maker.
Advice to Aspiring Writers: Write as much as you can before coming out to LA. It's takes a lot of work and patience. People believe that they can rely on making connections and then blame the industry when they get nowhere. But all it takes is one really good script. Make sure the writing is ready.
Kirkland Major: Drama (Music minor)
College Productions: I was in three plays at Minor Theater but remember Niagara Falls best of all. The play was by Leonard Melfi and directed by Cyril Simon. Just prior to the production, I returned to Kirkland having had a car accident the previous spring. I had a wheelchair in my room, was still on crutches and had a pronounced limp. I felt disconnected from other people and from my emotions. I thought if I felt anything, I would literally break. Luckily the show had an extraordinarily talented and loving cast. Cyril Simon created a particularly safe environment, and the work that transpired constituted my first top-notch rehearsal experience. After we closed, Cyril asked four of us to accompany him to The Second City theatre in Chicago. I was horrendous at improvisational comedy, but it was a glorious opportunity to watch and learn from the likes of Harold Ramis and Brian Doyle-Murray.
Other Work at Kirkland: Alan Pakula was directing The Sterile Cuckoo on campus. I auditioned and was cast as Liza Minelli's roommate. The next thing I knew, I got to go to Hollywood with two other students from Hamilton, Bugs [Christopher Bugbee '69] and Mark Fish ['70], who happened to be gorgeous, intelligent upperclassmen. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I spent my junior year at Juilliard studying theory, piano and voice. I inhaled the place. My senior year at Kirkland was spent at The Neighborhood Playhouse [in New York City], where I studied with Sandy Meisner. By the time I graduated from Kirkland, I had my SAG card, my Equity Card and an agent. Kirkland, Sam Babbitt and, more specifically, Dean Nelbach supported me throughout my customized curricula, making Kirkland the perfect college for me.
Big Break: I had a few, and I'm grateful for all of them. You can't make it in show business without breaks. My first came during my final production at The Neighborhood Playhouse. I was in Bus Stop, after which an agent called and signed me.
Best-Known Roles: Grace Farrel in Annie [on Broadway]. Mamie in the TV series Days and Nights of Molly Dodd.
Favorite Actors You've Worked With: Jason Robards, John Spencer, Andrea McArdle, James Earl Jones, David Strathairn, Blair Brown, Tom Cruise, Colleen Dewhurst, Jamie Lee Curtis, Scott Bakula, Craig T. Nelson, Richard Crenna and the casts of Is There Life After High School? and Loose Ends.
Most Rewarding Role: There are three. 1) Grace in Annie. Anyone who says it ain't fun to be in a hit is lying! I loved the part, the cast and the dear, funny writer, Tom Meehan ['51]. 2) Alice in You Can't Take It With You, where I got to act on Broadway every night with the incomparable Jason Robards. What can I say? 3) Susan in Loose Ends, alongside John Spencer, Court Miller, Sally Sockwell and Jay Patterson.
Biggest Challenge as an Actor: I always thought it would be to quit acting, but the decision snuck up on me. I found myself not wanting to audition. I was living in California, and the audition and rehearsal process in LA always left me flat or unsettled. Jobs became more lines on my résumé. I found myself volunteering to direct and produce at my daughters' elementary school. Before I knew it, I was producing new musicals in my garage, at Luna Park, at The Santa Monica Playhouse and then at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut, which led to off-Broadway.
Current Project: My passion for theater and new works led me back to working with children. I earned a master's degree last January from NYU's Steinhardt School of Education and am glorying in my second year of teaching drama and musical theatre at LaGuardia High School For The Performing Arts, the school that inspired the movie Fame. It is also the school that inspires me. It's a haven for hundreds of eccentric folks, young and old, with passion, talent, loud voices and an ardent love of learning. It's my biggest break of all. I'm finally home.
Family Life: My daughter Molly just graduated summa cum laude from Barnard. She has decided to attend nursing school in New York and hopes to join Doctors Without Borders in two years. My daughter Lucy is a junior at Smith. She is a dance major. My partner of seven years Todd Susman just finished a two-year gig in Hairspray as the dad, Wilbur Turnblatt. He brings to our relationship three beautiful children and three grandchildren. I am a very lucky lady.
Grayson McCouch '91
Hamilton Major: Theatre
College Productions: My senior show was Miss Julie opposite Sarah Rafferty ['93]. I remember rallying a few friends to do Timon of Athens, a Shakespeare production that we put on at Colgate. I also wrote a play for a Russian studies course — a great performance we did in the Glen. Carole Bellini-Sharp [professor of theatre] helped facilitate my junior year abroad at the British American Drama Academy, which gave me the opportunity to be in London and really see theatre and take it all in.
After Hamilton: I moved to New York City with a few Hamilton friends — Valentine Sheldon ['91], Casey Jones ['91] and later Rob Enserro ['91]. We found a loft and shared the rent. It was a great time.
First Acting Job: I was cast in a pilot [the comedy Sibs] and then joined Another World, where I worked for three years. I was fortunate to find my first opportunity very quickly. I attribute my early success to taking myself seriously and working hard as an actor even before I came to Hamilton.
Big Break: Armageddon with Bruce Willis. It wasn't a major part, but it gave me a major feeling for the world of an actor and led to some good contacts and prime-time roles.
Current Role: Dusty Donovan on As the World Turns [for which he earned a 2006 Emmy nomination for outstanding supporting actor]. They say I'm the most popular guy before Dr. Phil!
Best Thing About Current Job: This is as close to a 9-to-5 job as you can get as an actor. It's tough sometimes — you live like you're with the circus, with jobs coming and going. [This job] is good for my mental state of mind.
Favorite Role: I'd have to say Timon back at Hamilton. It was a great collaboration between Hamilton students and a few Colgate students I'd met while abroad in London. I had wanted to do Shakespeare, and to have the chance with such an atmosphere of collaboration was terrific. Casey Jones, my Hamilton roommate, played my best friend in the play. It was a great experience.
Biggest Challenge: Staying balanced as a person. To make the most of what you want to get out of this career, you make sacrifices. It can be very taxing. You can spend all of your energy as an artist to have an effect, but other aspects of your personal life can suffer.
Favorite Movie: I watch mostly old movies — the classics with Bogart, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles.
Actors You Most Admire: I learned a lot from so many. The ones I admire most are the true gentlemen. Steve Buscemi and Will Patton come to mind. They are incredibly down-to-earth and have succeeded in finding that balance.
Hobbies: At work they call me "the farmer." I bought a place in the Catskills last year and have a big garden. I love working outside, plus it's good for you. It's been my gym. I also go hiking and do stuff with my dad [Don McCouch '64].
Next Projects: I'm working on a screenplay. [Sister Hannah McCouch '88 is also a writer, having completed two novels.] It's a historical nonfiction film set in early America that deals with slavery. I'm getting more interested in writing and producing. I enjoy the autonomy.
Nat Faxon '97
Hamilton Major: Theatre
College Productions: Moe's Lucky Seven, directed by Carole Bellini-Sharp [professor of theatre], Oresteia, directed by Gerry Large [former visiting professor] and Lysistrata and The Master and Margarita, both directed by Adrian Giurgea [former visiting professor]. For my senior project I wrote a one-man show called Spinning the Bottle. I interviewed about 50 people on campus — from students to professors to a campus safety officer — to get their views on sex on the Hill. I used that as a basis to write monologues for nine different characters.
Other Acting at Hamilton: In my freshman year, Marc Campbell ['96], Brett Straten ['96], Josh Gardner ['94], Andy Scully ['97] and I started Bobby Peru [a sketch-improv group]. The first time we performed was before a Buffers concert. I'll never forget, we were sitting outside the Chapel terrified as a hundred or so people filed in. We did three sketches and people loved it.
Moment You Knew You Wanted to be an Actor: Ever since I was in grade school I liked being in plays. They were usually musicals, and since I didn't have a very good voice, I would get minor parts and be up on stage making funny faces to make everyone laugh. I got such a rush from that, I knew I wanted to keep acting.
Why Hamilton: I wanted a full experience — a liberal arts education where I could be a theatre major but do other things, too. I spent my junior year in California at Pomona College taking theatre classes and performing. That's when I first got involved with The Groundlings [LA improv company where such actors as Jon Lovitz, Lisa Kudrow and Phil Hartman got their start]. I came back my senior year with even more enthusiasm for Bobby Peru, and we started doing bigger and bigger shows. What was great was that a lot of the people who came to see us weren't in my social circle, so I got to know people from all across campus.
First Acting Job: I was cast in a commercial for Pac Bell by Tony Kaye [director of American History X]. He liked working with the same actors, and that "in" led to a lot of exposure. I did a string of commercials for Sony PlayStation, Chevy, State Farm (I'm the husband whose wife runs over his foot) and McDonald's where I played the father of two kids who were about 9. I was in my early 20s at the time. He [Kaye] used his people no matter what!
Big Break: Getting on Grosse Pointe [former comedy on WB]. I was a guest star in the pilot and became a series regular. That's when I quit bartending.
Favorite Role: Probably the evil German in Beerfest. I tend to play supportive kinds of roles — the hot guy's comedic, dorky roommate. This was certainly a departure.
Most Recent Role: I played Brad on the short-lived Fox comedy Happy Hour. Brad was closer to the roles that I usually do: dim, naive and, in this case, completely whipped. I'm not sure why people always see me as the likeable dumb guy. I hope not because I'm really ... wait a minute!
Actor You Most Admire: I've worked with Jack Black [in the film Orange County], who brings incredible energy to a role and creates characters — sometimes out of nothing — that really stand out. His spastic, all-over-the-place energy was fun to watch. It can be outrageous at times, but what he creates comes from a "real" place.
Next Project: Two years ago I co-wrote a show with a guy I met at Groundlings called Adopted. It was an incredible — and crazy — experience. It got made as a pilot for ABC with Bernadette Peters and Christine Baranski. It didn't get picked up, but the fact that we were able to sell it was huge. After that we developed another show for NBC that didn't go and are now developing a half-hour comedy for Sony which we hope to sell to the networks. We also just finished a screenplay that we are shopping around.
Biggest Challenge: There are so many obstacles — you audition for the casting director, then for the producer, then again for the casting director, and then do a studio test and a network test — and that's just to get a part on a show that might not even get produced. In a way, the system is set up for you to fail. The challenge is to find ways to create opportunities for yourself. That's one of the reasons I started writing shows for myself.
How Classmates Would Remember You: As a motivated guy who started Bobby Peru and hopefully, at some point, made someone laugh.
Sarah Rafferty '93
Hamilton Major: English Literature and Theatre
College Productions: I was in Love's Labour's Lost directed by Carole Bellini-Sharp [professor of theatre] and Miss Julie, which was Grayson McCouch's ['91] senior project. Also I did a production of Godspell, and my senior project, David Mamet's The Woods with fellow theatre major Howard Bender ['93].
Hamilton Mentor: I give a lot of credit to Carole Bellini-Sharp for my decision to become a professional actress. I was not particularly focused on acting my first year at Hamilton, and she really showed me the way. She just had this sense that I should pursue acting. She encouraged me to apply to the British American Drama Academy, where I studied for a semester during my junior year and then received a scholarship to their summer program, where I met the dean of the Yale School of Drama [where she earned her M.F.A.]. I was so lucky to have someone like Carole to shepherd me. Yale was an amazing acting education and gave me a great sense of community.
First Job After Hamilton: Of course I was a waiter in New York City. The first real job — where I got paid enough to stop waiting tables — was in a national commercial for Clairol with the hilarious and lovely Dr. Ruth Westheimer. I also did a lot of regional theatre: the Philadelphia Theatre Company, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre Company [in Boston] and the Roundabout and Second Stage in New York. I also had a cool experience early in my career in New York. When I was in between jobs I worked for Sam Mendes [director of American Beauty] as a reader. He was casting Cabaret, and for several months I would come in and read the scenes with all the actors who auditioned. Every now and then after an actor had left the room, he'd turn and ask me, "So, what did you think?" It was great to experience the process from that perspective and to get to act every day.
Other Roles: I was cast in the play Collected Stories, which was performed at The Old Globe in San Diego. It was my first trip to the West Coast, and my agents came down from the LA office to see me. That led to some work on pilots and television roles. I've also done radio plays for NPR.
Big Break: I can't say I've ever had what you'd call a "big break" — only a few almost big breaks. I did a few pilots that didn't get picked up. I was in The Devil Wears Prada, which was a really great experience, but the director called me before it premiered to let me know that they had to cut a certain amount of time and my part was the last to go. That happens all the time.
Favorite Role: I recently played Rosalind in As You Like It at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox [Mass.]. It's a beautiful play and a role you dream about.
Favorite Medium: Definitely theatre. It's different every night and the audience is right there. But half-hour comedies are really like short plays. You shoot in front of a live audience. The writers and producers are changing the script in between takes based on audience reaction, so you have to be on your toes. There's a lot of energy in the room since it's being re-written, filmed, acted and enjoyed all at the same time.
Best-Known Role: I don't really think I have one. I've done a bunch of TV, including a show on the Sci-Fi Channel. My sister Connie ['88] found a funny fan Web site. Every now and then someone on the street will say, "Didn't I see you on such-and-such show?" For a while I seemed to be getting frequently cast as the villain [on CSI Miami and Without a Trace]. I think it's the red hair. If this weren't G-rated I would describe the totally gross way I killed the guy on CSI Miami — that was the first and last time my 90-year-old grandfather tuned in to see me on TV!
Most Recent Role: I recently finished shooting a TV movie for Lifetime called What If God Were the Sun? I play Gena Rowlands' daughter. Needless to say, I have always admired her and could not have been more thrilled to watch her work, work with her and get to know her. She was generous in every way, on camera and off, and even tirelessly indulged our interests in the films she made with her late husband John Cassavetes.
Biggest Challenge: It can feel like there's a lot of rejection, which is hard to take day after day. When I started acting, someone told me to expect to do 100 auditions for each job. In this business the highs are high, and the lows are low; the key is to find a balance and patience.
Actor You Most Admire: There are so many. When doing The Devil Wears Prada, I was at a couple of table reads with Meryl Streep. She was working — finding the role — and did it with the touch of a feather. She's got this light from inside that effortlessly drew everyone in. It was magnetic.
Hobbies: I love to travel, take pictures, ski and play tennis with my husband.
Next Project: Hopefully that "big break!" A script [for an independent film] recently came across my radar that I might be interested in producing.
Hamilton Major: English Literature
College Productions: I was in two: The Lover by Harold Pinter and a play by Harry Kondoleon ['77]. He was a gifted playwright and friend who died about 10 years ago [March 1994].
First Job After Hamilton: I went to New York City and worked as a reporter for The Village Voice on the least serious of all sections. ("Someone's painting cows down on the docks. Go check it out.") The fashion editor asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I always liked acting. He introduced me to Lee Strasberg and things started to snowball. I ended up getting accepted into Yale [School of Drama], which was an honor since they only took 11 or 12 people into the acting program that year out of hundreds.
First Acting Job: I was a cadaver on The Guiding Light.
Big Break: Meeting Nick Cassavetes when we both were in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. He went on to direct, and I've been in all of his movies, Unhook the Stars opposite Marisa Tomei; She's So Lovely with Sean Penn; John Q with Denzel Washington; The Notebook; and Alpha Dog with Sharon Stone.
Best-Known Role (for adults): I've done upward of 30 films, but I'm probably most recognized for the work I've done in the Law and Order series. I've been everything from a murderer to the recurring role of Lionel Granger [a defense attorney]. My parents live in South Carolina. My mother's friends watch the show and say, "That's not the Dave we know." Before an episode where my character kills off his mother, my mom warned her friend: "Better not watch this one, Grace."
Best-Known Role (for kids): The kids on my son's [Declyn, 8] hockey team think I'm the coolest thing going thanks to Home Alone 3. One time I ran into Alec Baldwin when he was in our building taking his daughter to a play date. He said, "Thornton, I'm so sick of seeing your face. We've watched Home Alone about 50 times. You really have the pre-K following."
Favorite Role: The work I did in A Civil Action. This was an exceptionally powerful film about the poisoning of children in Woburn, Mass., from pollution by W. R. Grace and Co. I did a lot of research for the role at a children's hospital.
Typical Role: I really don't have one. I've always been a bit of a chameleon and pretty good at changing how I look. For John Q, I grew out my beard, which came in white. I looked really sickly. After filming I was at a bar with Eddie Griffin when Denzel Washington walked in and says, "Hey, how you doing?" to Eddie and ignores me. I had just shaved and looked 25 years younger; he didn't even know who I was.
Best Thing About Your Career: I'd have to say traveling. You don't always work on projects you like, but I've been to some amazing places, like Malta when I was in Swept Away with Madonna (which was god-awful), and Indonesia for a horrible action movie. I've met some new and talented people and, not to be crass, get paid for doing something that's a lot of fun.
Hobbies: I wish I could say I paint or build cabinets or something, but I never seem to have enough time for that. When my wife [actress/singer Cyndi Lauper] is out of town, I'm focused on making hot breakfasts for my son and driving him to school. When Declyn started playing hockey, I did too. Our driveway is filled with 300 hockey pucks and assorted sticks and nets. [As the Alumni Review went to press, Declyn's Westchester Viper squirt major team had just won the Silver Sticks tournament in Philadelphia, and dad continues weekly games "with a bunch of D-1 guys and six-time Stanley Cup winner Glenn Anderson. It is a blast, humiliating, but a blast."]
Alternate Career: If I weren't acting? I'd probably write and illustrate children's books. I always loved hanging out at Kirkland and watching the girls painting with the sun streaming in the windows and music playing.
Advice for Aspiring Actors: There's no blueprint for an acting career. Go to New York City and get involved with a theatre company. Go to drama school. Go to LA and wait tables. The big thing is to go into it with the mind-set that you're not going to give up.
Joe Howard '70
Hamilton Major: Psychology
College Productions: None. The summer between high school and Hamilton, I did The Fantasticks with a local theatre group. After the ordeal of doing a show around a 9-5 job, I vowed that if I ever acted again, I would get paid for it. I ended up keeping that promise. It's not that I would not have considered doing a show at Hamilton, but the stuff they were doing was classical theatre, and I was not particularly interested in it.
Moment You Knew You Wanted to be an Actor: When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cowboy. As I got old enough to realize that wasn't very practical, I wanted to be an actor and play cowboys. At Hamilton I figured acting wouldn't be a very practical career, but as I was getting ready to graduate, I realized there was absolutely nothing else I wanted to do.
First Job After Hamilton: I worked as a private investigator for Pinkerton's National Detective Agency out of its Albany office.
First Acting Job: The second summer after I graduated, I was hired by a summer stock theatre in my hometown [Chatham, N.Y.] that did musical comedy. I did four seasons there; the first three, we did a different musical every week. It was a hectic schedule but great fun. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
Big Break: In the summer of 1975, I was hired for a union show at Goodspeed Opera House [in Connecticut] that was supposed to go to Broadway in the fall. My salary all of a sudden went from $50 a week to $250 a week, which back then wasn't bad. It was the musical version of the life of western artist Charles M. Russell, and I was playing the gunslinging sheriff. It starred David Canary [Bonanza, All My Children] and Gary Sandy [WKRP in Cincinnati]. Good music and costumes, but the show did not generate much interest. But it helped me segue into the cast of Shenandoah on Broadway. I came out to Los Angeles with the national touring company of that show in 1977 and stayed. I immediately hit it really big doing TV commercials, but had difficulty getting a TV and film career going.
Best-Known Roles: George Frankly in Mathnet on PBS. I am not a high-profile actor, but that show had a modest fan base that was not limited to kids because of the off-the-wall humor. We had a great time shooting the show, had some great guest stars, including James Earl Jones, who played my boss on a couple of episodes, and the entire show was done without network interference.
Biggest Challenge as an Actor: Getting your next job. Once, after having been in the business for over 20 years, I went a full year without working. It was a sobering experience.
Most Awkward Moment: When I first came to Los Angeles, a big-name agent called me in for an interview. While he was talking to me, he casually asked his secretary who Robert Redford's agent was. For some reason that seemed to drive home the point that I was really in the big time and it scared me. The interview went downhill, and at the conclusion I walked into the agent's closet, rather than out the door! Although I could easily make the humor of that circumstance work for me now, I did not recover well at the time.
Actor You Most Admire: There are a number, but Anthony Hopkins looms large since I recently worked with him on The World's Fastest Indian. He was such a nice guy — went out of his way to talk with everyone on the set.
Hobbies: Fishing, when I can. Also playing acoustic guitar and singing around the house. I've had a hard time finding any place to get paid to do it, although I played a folk-singing, alternative political candidate on The West Wing. And I do a little coin collecting — Morgan dollars mainly.
Advice for Aspiring Actors: Ask yourself: When you perform, do you get unsolicited feedback that you're good? Do you have an unusual look or a distinctive voice? Are you drop-dead good-looking? Do you have a certain presence or charisma? Rank-and-file actors don't get most of the jobs they go up for. Can you handle rejection and not take it personally? The best way to get into acting is to fall into it. This happened to my son [actor Jeremy Howard, who has appeared in such films as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can], who was born into an acting family. If that doesn't happen, do you have the persistence to keep at a profession where many times the return you get will not be in proportion to the amount of effort you put out? Having raised all these considerations, a career in acting — when it is good — is a blast. Getting paid to have fun tastes really sweet. The artistic satisfactions can be enormous.