Best Actor

Primarily a film and TV actor—he is the teacher in Election who delivers the unforgettable line about a high-school beauty queen, “Her pussy gets so wet”—and quite a busy one at that, Harelik only appears in about one play per year. But he has graced South Coast Repertory's boards five times in the past 20 years, from Howard Korder's riveting Search and Destroy (1990) to his monumental turn as a megalomaniacal explorer in Korder's The Hollow Lands (2000) and the title role in Cyrano de Bergerac (2004). His take on Othman, the cagey Minister of Culture for the fictionalized Middle East nation of Aquaat in Korder's latest play, produced last spring, was far more understated and subdued than those roles, but equally effective. He brought an air of deep longing and intellectual frustration to a character who could easily have been portrayed as nothing more than a lying tyrant. Harelik, who is also a playwright (he's part of the creative team behind the Hank Williams Sr. homage Lost Highway, which played three years ago at the Laguna Playhouse) is a major talent, and any chance to see him on a local stage is reason enough to pony up for a ticket.

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