Azaria mines pain and humor from ‘Brockmire’
Being a loyal New York Mets baseball fan can be a never-ending experience in self-flagellation. Hank Azaria, who plays troubled baseball announcer-turned-commissioner Jim Brockmire on “Brockmire,” knows this all too well.
A native of Forest Hills in Queens, N.Y., the 55-year-old actor, voice actor and comedian grew up a few subway stops from the Mets’ former home of Shea Stadium, where he got to bear witness to a lot of heartbreak, frustration and losing. And endure plenty of ineptitude on the field and in the front office.
So when this past winter the Mets had to part ways with newly hired manager Carlos Beltran over his involvement in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, Azaria was unsurprised.
“Oh yes, my beloved Mets,” he says with a chuckle. “Leave it to the Mets to have the downside of a scandal and none of the upside.”
Now in its fourth and final season Wednesdays on IFC (and Thursdays on Crave in Canada), “Brockmire” advances the storyline 10 years to 2030, where he’s ascended to the role of commissioner of baseball, partly as a way of staying close to his daughter Beth (Reina Hardesty), who is in college in New York. Parenting has become Brockmire’s new obsession as a result of his sobriety but as always with alcoholism, that’s a day-to-day struggle.
“His helicopter dad is just another expression of his addictive and obsessive personality,” Azaria says. “He even says in one of the episodes, ‘I just replaced my alcoholism with my obsessive parenting,’ after he was so hell-bent on not making the mistakes his parents did. So, yeah, the show’s about dark, real things.”
Full name: Henry Albert Azaria
Birth date: April 25, 1964
Birthplace: Queens, N.Y.
Residence: New York City
Family ties: He and wife Katie Wright, a former actress, have an 11-year-old son, Hal
Other TV credits include: “Family Ties,” “Growing Pains,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Herman’s Head,” “The Simpsons” (voicing multiple characters), “Mad About You,” “Friends,” “Huff,” “Free Agents,” “Bordertown” (voice), “Ray Donovan,” “Maniac,” “Family Guy” (voicing multiple characters)
Movie credits include: “Pretty Woman” (1990), “Quiz Show” (1994), “The Birdcage” (1996), “Grosse Point Blank” (1997), “Great Expectations” (1998), “Tuesdays With Morrie” (TV, 1999), “America’s Sweethearts” (2001), “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” (2004), “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” (2009), “Love & Other Drugs” (2010), “The Smurfs” (2011), “The Smurfs 2” (2013)