In 1964, the New York Herald Tribune asked playwright Arthur Miller to cover the war crimes trial in Germany of the Nazi officials who ran the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.
Although Arthur Miller was only 33 when "Death of a Salesman" premiered on Broadway, it was a transformative moment in American drama, and Miller's impact on successive generations of writers continues to this day.
"David Mamet calls me Hebraically challenged," confides actor William H. Macy, a longtime collaborator of the esteemed playwright. "I'm the ultimate [gentile]. Part of me is the imploding WASP, a role I've certainly played to death."
With his weak smile and wounded-looking blue eyes, Macy was riveting in his Oscar-nominated turn as a car dealer struggling to cover up his wife's kidnapping in the Coen brothers' 1996 film "Fargo." He was the humiliated husband of an oversexed porn star in "Boogie Nights," and a beleaguered 1950s sitcom dad in "Pleasantville."
Which is why he was cautious when director Neal Slavin asked him to star in his noirish feature-film debut, "Focus" -- based on Arthur Miller's 1945 novel about a milquetoast mistakenly identified as Jewish by his anti-Semitic neighbors.
Israeli filmmaker Amos Gitai will direct a novice actor in his next movie. He is playwright Arthur Miller, better known as the author of "Death of a Salesman," "The Crucible" and numerous other dramas.
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