Michael Lerner, Oscar-Nominated 'Barton Fink' Actor, Dead at 81

Michael Lerner
Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Lerner was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the Coen Brothers' 1991 thriller.

Michael Lerner -- an actor who is known for his roles in Barton Fink, Elf, Godzilla and more -- has died at 81 years old, his family announced Sunday. 

His nephew, Sam, took to Instagram to share the news, writing, "We lost a legend last night. It’s hard to put into words how brilliant my uncle Michael was, and how influential he was to me." 

The tribute included a carousel of photos of Michael throughout the years. One photo shows Micheal posed with famed comedian Eddie Murphy

"His stories always inspired me and made me fall in love with acting. He was the coolest, most confident, talented guy, and the fact that he was my blood will always make me feel special," Sam wrote of his uncle. 

"Everyone that knows him knows how insane he was— in the best way. I’m so lucky I got to spend so much time with him, and we’re all lucky we can continue to watch his work for the rest of time." 

Concluding the post, Sam wrote, "RIP Michael, enjoy your unlimited Cuban cigars, comfy chairs, and endless movie marathon."

In 1992, Lerner was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role in Barton Fink. He played movie mogul Jack Lipnick in the Coen brothers' 1991 thriller. 

In 2003, Lerner took on the role of James Caan's boss in the beloved, Will Farrell Christmas movie Elf. In the film, Caan is forced to choose between his job and helping his son find Buddy after he ran away. "If you walk outta here, you're finished at Greenway," Lerner's character screams at Caan. 

Lerner's acting credits also include roles in movies such as  Blank Check, Newsies, Harlem Nights, For Richer or Poorer, The Mod Squad, Celebrity and A Serious Man.

Lerner also had an impressive TV career, with roles in famed shows such as The Brady Bunch, The Good Guys, Ironside, M*A*S*H*, Law & Order: SVU and Glee