Remembered for her zany hats and pubescent troubles on the sitcom _Blossom_, Mayim Bialik could have easily entered pop culture’s stable of desperate reality TV stars. But save an appearance on _Curb Your Enthusiasm_, these days the 31-year-old is more academic than actress. For the last seven years, Bialik has been working on a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at UCLA, researching hypothalamic secretions and obsessive-compulsive behaviors in adolescents with Prader-Willi Syndrome. (She’s also married with a 2-year-old and acts as the university’s cantor during the high holidays.)
Somehow we convinced Bialik to take a moment from her hectic schedule and survey the best specimens of Jewish scientists that American cinema has to offer. Her 200-page thesis was due the same week as this assignment, though, so forgive her for leaving out Mel Brooks’ character from _The Muppet Movie_.
*Harold Ramis as Dr. Egon Spengler*
Complete with whiny voice, stilted manner and thick glasses, Egon is perhaps the quintessential scientist. And who doesn’t love a guy who collects “spores, mold and fungus”? _IMDB.com_ calls his character simply a “scientific genius,” the vague grandiosity of which is so ’80s sci-fi comedy. But the guy did protect the world from an onslaught of otherworldy monsters and demons, so I’m OK with the label.
*Yahoo Serious as Albert Einstein*
*_Young Einstein_ (1988)*
This Tasmanian take on Einstein’s early years features Mr. Serious doing some pretty awful comedy (a box of apples falling on his head inspires the theory of relativity) and some equally awful science (he splits the “beer atom” in order to insert more bubbles). However, it is refreshing and empowering for all scientists to see one of science’s greatest minds transformed into a bumbling beer brewer.
*Jennifer Tilly as Amy Hopkins*
*_Moving Violations_ (1985)*
In this film about a group of drivers sentenced to attend traffic school, Tilly plays a rocket scientist. With her squeaky yet endearing voice, she certainly puts a new… face on scientists. I guess “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist” could be replaced with “it doesn’t take Jennifer Tilly.” Also, the paucity of female scientists in movies is killing me, so we must include her.
*Gene Wilder as Dr. Frederick Frankenstein*
*_Young Frankenstein_ (1974)*
Perhaps the most intricate of surgeons is the neurosurgeon—working with the precious and priceless brain, the regulator of all body functions, thought and speech processes, and perhaps even the soul. Gene Wilder is priceless in this tremendous portrayal of the creativity, madness and true hysteria of the neuroscientist. Do I gush?
*Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm*
*_Jurassic Park_ (1993)*
Goldblum plays the Ã¼ber-scientist in this series. He’s gloomy, wears black and traipses around muttering fatalistic ramblings that come true… at least when they’re about bringing dinosaurs back to life after millions of years of extinction. Nevertheless, Goldblum’s calm character is the antithesis to most filmic “mad” scientists, and he provides contrast for Sam Neill and Laura Dern’s constantly astonished performances. Plus, who doesn’t love that Jews can in fact be 6’4″?