Paul Reiser: Breaking Down His 6 Best Roles in Movies & TV

Paul Reiser is an American actor, comedian, and writer born on March 30, 1956, in Brooklyn, New York. During his university years at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Reiser discovered his passion for acting, becoming an active member in student theater productions at the Hinman Little Theater. After earning his degree, he began to develop his skills as a stand-up comedian, but it was his early love for acting that eventually shone through.

As he honed his craft, Reiser’s versatility and range allowed him to effortlessly transition between genres, starring in a wide range of movies and TV shows that spanned comedy, drama, and horror. To that, he has become a true icon in entertainment. So, as he gears up to star in Beverly Hills Cop 4, here are Paul Reiser’s 6 best roles in TV and film.

6. Stranger Things as Dr. Sam Owens (2017-2022)

Paul Reiser in Stranger Things (2022)

Paul Reiser’s character, Dr. Sam Owens, was introduced in the second season of Stranger Things, bringing a unique blend of authority and vulnerability to the show. As a recurring character, Dr. Owens appeared in 19 episodes across seasons 2 and 4, slowly unfolding his complex persona. Despite not being a lead character, Reiser’s performance is marked by understated nuance, as his character gradually becomes aware of the severity of the supernatural events unfolding in Hawkins. Initially, Dr. Owens is presented as a calm and collected scientist, but as the series progresses, his facade begins to crack, revealing a sense of vulnerability and doubt. Reiser’s portrayal of Dr. Owens is a masterclass in subtlety, allowing the audience to see the character’s growing unease and moral dilemmas.

Watch Stranger Things on Netflix

5. Whiplash as Jim Neimann (2014)


Whiplash, the 2014 Oscar-winning film directed by Damien Chazelle, is a gripping drama that follows the story of Andrew Neimann (Miles Teller), a young and ambitious jazz drummer, as he seeks to become the best drummer in the world. Under the guidance of the demanding and ruthless instructor, Terence Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons, Andrew’s passion for music is pushed to its limits. Meanwhile, Andrew’s father, Jim, played by Paul Reiser, struggles to balance his desire to support his son’s dreams with his concern for his son’s well-being. As Andrew becomes increasingly entrenched in the competitive world of jazz, Jim must navigate the toxic environment of the music academy to protect his son from the harsh realities of Fletcher’s teaching methods. Amidst a talented cast, Reiser shines as a devoted father who must grapple with the complexities of nurturing his son’s talent while also safeguarding him from the destructive forces that threaten to consume him.

Watch Whiplash on Prime Video

4. Aliens as Burke (1986)

Paul Reiser in Aliens (1986)

Paul Reiser’s role in James Cameron‘s 1986 classic, Aliens, marked a significant career swerve away from his comedic roots. As the character of Carter J. Burke, a corporate representative sent to the planet LV-426, Reiser brought a level of sleaze and toxicity to the role, transforming him into the film’s unofficial villain. Burke’s Machiavellian nature is on full display as he prioritizes his own interests and profits over the well-being of the human colonists, revealing himself to be selfish, ruthless, greedy, and utterly manipulative. This departure from his comedic persona showcased Reiser’s impressive range as an actor, demonstrating his ability to adapt to vastly different roles and genres.

Watch Aliens on Apple TV+

3. Beverly Hills Cop II as Jeffrey Friedman (1987)

Paul Reiser and Eddie Murphy and Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)

Paul Reiser’s scene-stealing performance as Jeffrey Friedman in the 1984 classic Beverly Hills Cop was a highlight of the film, and his character’s witty banter and comedic timing added a layer of humor to the action-packed movie. However, in the 1987 sequel, Beverly Hills Cop II, Reiser’s character received more screen time, as he became a more prominent figure in the franchise. In the sequel, Jeffrey Friedman’s role takes on a new dimension as he becomes embroiled in Axel Foley’s (Eddie Murphy) pursuit of revenge in Beverly Hills. In a hilarious plot twist, Jeffrey assumes Axel’s identity in Detroit, leading to a series of comedic misunderstandings and mishaps that provide a lighthearted respite from the dark events unfolding in the main storyline. Reiser is set to reprise his role as the quirky Jeffrey in Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F in July 2024.

Watch Beverly Hills Cop II on Paramount+

2. Diner as Modell (1982)

Paul Reiser in Diner (1982)

Diner, released in 1982, is a coming-of-age comedy-drama that follows a group of friends as they gather at a Baltimore diner to celebrate the last night of their 20th year. The film’s simple yet relatable storyline is brought to life through sharp, witty dialogue that showcases the characters’ insecurities, aspirations, and struggles. The movie marks a breakout for its entire lead cast, including Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, and Kevin Bacon, who all went on to achieve significant success in the film industry.

Paul Reiser, in his debut role, shines as Modell, the lovable but slightly neurotic friend who is struggling to come to terms with his own identity. Despite being his first role, Diner remains one of Reiser’s most iconic performances, and the film’s cult status continues to grow as a nostalgic time capsule of the 1980s. The film’s blend of humor, heart, and memorable characters has made it a beloved classic among audiences, and its influence can still be seen in many contemporary coming-of-age stories.

Watch Diner on Apple TV+

1. Mad About You as Paul Buchman (1992-2019)


Mad About You, the beloved sitcom that aired from 1992 to 1999, is likely to remain Paul Reiser’s most iconic role of his career due to its enduring appeal. The show follows the lives of Paul Buchman (Reiser) and Jamie Stemple Buchman (Helen Hunt) as they navigate their marriage, careers, and friendships in New York City. The series’ witty dialogue, relatable characters, and clever plot twists made it a staple of 1990s television, and it won a staggering 12 Primetime Emmy Awards throughout its run.

Mad About You shot Reiser and Hunt to global stardom, cementing their status as one of television’s most beloved couples. Even after the show ended its initial seven-season run in 1999, fans continued to clamor for more, with the show’s cultural legacy holding strong nearly two decades later. In 2019, Reiser and Hunt returned for a revival season, offering fans a glimpse into the lives of their beloved characters once again. The show’s enduring appeal is a testament to the power of its storytelling and characters, ensuring that Mad About You will remain a cherished part of television history for generations to come. Want to catch up with the stars from another iconic sitcom? Here’s where the cast of The King of Queens are now.

Watch Mad About You on Apple TV+

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