Neither as ubiquitous as Los Angles nor as prolific as Manhattan as a setting, Brooklyn has always had an ambiguous relationship with film, which is perhaps odd, given how many stars hail from Flatbush (like Barbara Stanwyck), Bushwick (like Rosie Perez), Williamsburg (like Mel Brooks), Red Hook (like Eli Wallach), and everywhere in between. Below are 15 stars who trace their lineage to the nation’s third most populous city.
While probably nobody is surprised that Allen—born Allan Stewart Konigsberg—is from New York, the fact that he was born and raised in Midwood, Brooklyn, where his family ran a delicatessen, runs counter to his autobiographical evocation of his ’40s childhood in Radio Days (which takes place in Queens) as well as to his many love letters to Manhattan. He currently lives on the Upper East Side and regularly plays in a jazz band at the Carlyle Hotel.
Once Margarita Carmen Cansino, Hayworth was born in Brooklyn in 1918 to an illustrious showbiz family. Her mother was a dancer who has performed with the Ziegfeld Follies, while her grandfather popularized the bolero in Madrid. Her proficiency in ballet, tap, and ballroom dance paid off when she became Rita Hayworth and began to to land the supporting ensemble roles that would culminate in her breakthrough performance in 1939’s Only Angels Have Wings.
The star of The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, and Rachel Getting Married was born in Brooklyn to Kate Hathaway, who performed as Fantine in the first U.S. tour of Les Misérables, the same role for which Anne would win an Oscar in 2012.
The classically handsome, offbeat star of M.A.S.H., The Long Goodbye, and the Ocean’s films was born in 1938 in Brooklyn, terrain he would return to in 1984’s Over the Brooklyn Bridge, set in a working-class immigrant Jewish community similar to the one in which he was raised.
One of the biggest stars of musical theater in the world, Barbara Streisand came from humble beginnings, born in Brooklyn and educated at a Jewish Orthodox Yeshiva. One of her first gigs as a high school student and aspiring actress was a small part in the play Driftwood, in which she was cast opposite Joan Rivers. In 2012, Streisand returned to Brooklyn to perform at the Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue for the first time.
The mercurial star of Full Metal Jacket—and, by far, the best part—as well as Edgar the Bug in the first Men In Black and a standout as villain Wilson Fisk on Marvel’s Daredevil, D’Onofrio was born in Bensonhurst, though his family moved to Hawaii after his parents’ divorce. D’Onofrio is as famous for his surprise cameos as he is for starring roles: he played car mechanic Thor in Adventures In Babysitting and Orson Welles in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood.
Nobody says “Brooklyn” like Marisa Tomei, who has the most illustrious New York accent since Bugs Bunny. Yet another graduate of Edward R. Murrow High School (Aronofsky would later direct her in The Wrestler), Tomei exemplified Brooklyn moxie in My Cousin Vinny and co-stars as Aunt May opposite another illustrious New Yorker: Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland).
Although she was raised in Rhode Island, the star of Will & Grace was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents and graduated with an M.F.A. from New York University’s low-residency program, training she would use in Tony Kushner’s play Angels In America before her rise to network television stardom.
Another actor synonymous with New York, Harvey Keitel grew up in Brighton Beach and has gone on to serve as an on-screen shorthand for everything New York in films like Bad Lieutenant, Taxi Driver, and Mean Streets, as well as some odder appearances, like Judas in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, where his thick Brooklyn accent is a strange pairing with Biblical Judea and the Gospels.
Born in Brooklyn but raised in New Hampshire, Adam Sandler’s hit-and-miss career hasn’t included all that many New York roles (outside of SNL), but 2015’s Pixels, in which Sandler chased a CGI Pac-Man across Brooklyn in a tiny car, marked a return to the borough of his birth.
Despite being raised in Europe and Los Angeles, the star of Jaws and What About Bob? was born in Brooklyn and attended elementary school in Bayside, Queens, before his restaurateur father and peace activist mother determined they’d had enough of New York and moved the family.
This unmistakable sad-eyed character actor (familiar to audiences as the Subway Ghost in Ghost and Mr. Vargas from Fast Times At Ridgemont High) was born in the Sicilian-American community in Brooklyn that he commemorates in his memoir, Many Beautiful Things, written after Schiavelli’s retirement to his ancestral home of Polizzi Generosa, Italy, to write cookbooks.
Television’s Incredible Hulk was born in Brooklyn and worked in a local sheet-metal factory before winnings from the bodybuilding circuit (captured in Pumping Iron, featuring Ferrigno competing against Arnold Schwarzenegger) allowed him to pursue a job in showbiz. Other than as Bill Bixby’s green-skinned alter ego, Ferrigno has appeared in Reno 911!, The King of Queens, and Adventure Time.
In a way, Buscemi has never left Brooklyn, as he seems to exemplify outer-borough class in nearly every role, whether as a bellboy in period drama Barton Fink or as politician/gangster Enoch Thompson in Boardwalk Empire. Buscemi also works as a volunteer firefighter in New York and was among the first responders after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.
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