Stephen Tobolowsky says that when he started working in television, the roles he was offered were along the lines of “plumber with butt crack.” That’s what happens to actors with an Everyman quality, the ones who bear no resemblance to Brad Pitt or Bradley Cooper. The second acting credit of Tobolowsky’s listed on IMDB confirms that his arrival in Hollywood was not accompanied by spotlights and limousines: he played “TV clerk” in a television movie called “Cocaine and Blue Eyes.”
Since then Tobolowsky has appeared in countless roles, so many that USA Today has listed him as the ninth most frequently seen actor in movies. (Who keeps track of this stuff?) His interests, though, range far beyond the soundstages of Los Angeles, which explains why he has written a second book, “My Adventures With God,” a collection of stories, as he puts it, of finding and losing love, losing and finding himself.
Not ready to read a Hollywood actor’s account of wrestling with the Big Questions? Relax—it’s funny. “No matter your individual beliefs, our lives are often shaped by faith,” he writes. “That’s why I still have two pairs of pants in my closet with a size thirty-four waist.”
Tobolowsky came to Maine to promote his book, part of which he wrote in Otisfield. He is a student of the Old Testament, so I asked him if he followed the prohibition laid out in Leviticus and refrained from eating lobster because, having neither fins nor scales, it is considered unclean. Turns out he used to eat shellfish but no longer does—not because he doesn’t like it, but because he’s developed an allergy to it. “I ate my last lobster in Maine,” he says, a lobster roll “at that little train car that they say has the best lobster rolls in Maine.” He wasn’t sure where it was, though it sounds like Red’s in Wiscasset. “I guess,” he says knowingly, “there are a lot of places in Maine that say they have the best lobster roll.”