Behind The Scenes with TV, Film, & Broadway Sensation David Krumholtz
photo by Sophie Elgort
Actor David Krumholtz Keeping Forest Hills Roots Alive
Countless notables were raised in the historic neighborhoods of Forest Hills and Rego Park, shaping the community. Reciprocally, the community gave birth to their achievements, further influencing its sense of place and society.
Enter the world of legendary actor David Krumholtz, who was born in 1978 and planted strong roots in Forest Hills, enabling him to branch out. He is featured in this columnist’s book, “Legendary Locals of Forest Hills and Rego Park.”
Krumholtz resided in The Continental at 70-20 108th Street and later relocated to Lane Towers at 107-40 Queens Boulevard. He attended P.S. 196, Stephen A. Halsey J.H.S. 157, and briefly attended Forest Hills High School. “I genuinely believe Forest Hills is a magical place; a breeding ground for an acutely unique perspective that provides the foundation for a creative and artistic life,” said Krumholtz.
“I was 13 in early 1992 when I booked my first part in a play titled ‘Conversations With My Father’ on Broadway. I then went on to make my first film, ‘Life with Mikey’ (1993) starring Michael J. Fox,” reminisced Krumholtz. Ever since, success continued in his path, with appearances in 50 films and over 20 television series. Most recently, he appeared in another Broadway play, “Leopoldstadt,” which won Best Play among other accolades at the 2023 Tony Awards.
Actor Judd Hirsch talks to young David Krumholtz during a break in rehearsals & Hirsch stars in Broadway comedy Conversations with My Father, May 15, 1992, Photo courtesy of AP Newsfeatures
Krumholtz explained his perspective on his roles. “All my roles are meaningful in one way or another, in the sense that I feel so privileged to work at all, but a couple that stand out are Bernard from the first two ‘The Santa Clause’ films, Charlie Eppes on Numb3rs (CBS drama series from 2005 to 2010), Hermann Merz in ‘Leopoldstadt,’ and Isidor Rabi in ‘Oppenheimer.’”
Backtracking, Krumholtz appeared in “The Santa Clause” in 1994 and its sequel, “10 Things I Hate About You” in 1999, “Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2004) and its two sequels, as well as “Serenity” in 2005.
One may wonder how his pathway into acting unfolded. “P.S. 196 is a highly rated school, where I learned so much and made many lifelong friends. I did school plays every year at P.S. 196. I got very, very lucky. I didn’t really want to become an actor, but my English teacher at Halsey J.H.S 157, a wonderful teacher named Lon Blais, encouraged me to audition for ‘Conversations With My Father.’ I also played Randolph McAfee in Halsey’s production of ‘Bye Bye Birdie.’” During his youth, he did not perform outside of school, until he became a professional actor.
Great roles are built on challenges, and it is up to the actor to embrace it. As for “Leopoldstadt,” he explained his role and the Broadway play at large to be very challenging, with lots of dialogue and a British accent as a requirement. “The themes explore a very hard and somewhat depressing truth about Jewish people living in Europe during the 20th century. My biggest challenge was making sure that my role was impactful to a younger, non-Jewish audience,” said Krumholtz.
“Leopoldstadt” spotlights the wealthy Merz family, who resided in Vienna. Spanning 1899 to 1955, it follows the rise and fall of Vienna’s Jewish population. Krumholtz’s character, Hermann Merz, feared identifying as Jewish, knowing that he may not be accepted by the Viennese ruling class. This is a story of survival and grief, encompassing the periods of WWI, The Great Depression, the rise of Bolshevism, and the Nazi invasion.
In relation to the Holocaust, much of Krumholtz’s family was killed on his mother’s side. He explained, “My great-grandmother’s 11 brothers and sisters were all murdered by Nazis. My mother and her family escaped from Hungary during the Hungarian revolution in 1956, and settled in Forest Hills.” Krumholtz’s Jewish identity has been impacted. “The impact of my family’s history with the Holocaust is an indirect trauma that will always stay with me. I’ve learned to live without fear of persecution, and live with kindness and love for all people, regardless of their race or religion. In this time of rising anti-Semitism, I feel that it is important to remember our cultural strengths and rely on one another to stand up against all hate everywhere,” he continued.
On January 7, “Oppenheimer” won five Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture – Drama. The National Board of Review, as well as the American Film Institute named Oppenheimer a top ten film of 2023. Krumholtz played the role of physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi, a most admired character who declined to become a member of the confidential Manhattan Project at the time of WWII due to his anti-war sentiments. Then he is convinced by physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to join, and he remains by his side. On July 16, 1945, they witnessed the culmination of their work in developing the atomic bomb, as the first nuclear explosion was underway.
Krumholtz explained, “Making Oppenheimer was like working in a pressure cooker, but I implicitly trusted our director, Christopher Nolan, who is brilliant, and whose vision was unique and profound. Working with the incredible cast of heavy hitting actors was intimidating for sure, but they all welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to do my best.”
David Krumholtz stars in Numb3rs, Feb 19, 2006, LI edition of Newsday TV Picks
Various spots in Forest Hills harbor meaningful memories for Krumholtz. He explained, “I hung out a lot at Continental Comics and A&J Pizza, which was the best. I even worked at Continental Comics for a couple weeks, and played stickball at the little red schoolhouse on 110th Street. I spent lots of late nights at the T-Bone Diner. When I was only six, I met Run-DMC at Roy Rogers on Continental Avenue.” He could also be found at The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant at One Station Square in Forest Hills Gardens, which he owned from 1996 to 2000. “I made amazing friends with the staff, which was comprised of lots of creative artists,” he said.
Forest Hills will always be known for its artistic, cultural, and historical scene. “We all love Forest Hills! It’s the very best neighborhood in New York City. Lots of amazing folks were born and raised and educated here. I love the Ramones, who are remembered as hometown heroes. Queens is the most multi-national city on Earth, and I learned so much from the rich and deep well of many exotic cultures.”
Krumholtz expressed much gratitude for Forest Hills and highly influential people in his life. “I am grateful for my loving family and friends, as well as my continued work. My mother still lives in Forest Hills. My father lived there until he fell ill and eventually passed away. He took me to lots of movies, and that’s where I truly learned the art of filmmaking and acting.” Krumholtz’s family life instilled values that will always resonate within him. “My mother kept me humble and grateful,” he continued.
From the audition to playing a role, Krumholtz offered advice to younger actors, hoping to pursue a career. “Don’t rush, hone your talent, and take your time. Talent only improves over time. Believe in yourself, and never ever give up on your dreams. Dreams can actually come true if you want them to happen. Acting is the most identifiable and accessible art form, and actors are meant to emulate a wide range of personas and emotions.”
Besides Krumholtz’s current goals, audiences may wonder where he envisions himself in a decade. “My goal is to play as wide a range of roles as possible, and keep people surprised and guessing, and on the edge of their seats. In 10 years, I hope I will have a lot more to be grateful for, but for now, I stay in the present moment and try to stay out of the results business.”