Gary Shaller, a 31-year-old psychologist, was Googling himself—“to see what would come up if my patients did,” he explains—when his search returned an IMDB listing for The Good Night. The movie stars Gwyneth Paltrow and was directed by her brother, Jake Paltrow, with whom he went to Riverdale, the Bronx private school. “Gary Shaller is at a crossroads in his life,” the listing began. “His job is going nowhere, his wife, Dora, drives him crazy, and he passed his 30th birthday four years ago.” Shaller called Paltrow’s management, and a half-hour later, Jake Paltrow called back. “I said to him, ‘The reason I’m calling…’” Shaller says, “and before I even got the sentence out he said, ‘Yes.’” The two hadn’t spoken since tenth grade, but Paltrow explained that something about the character reminded him of his old classmate. It’s not quite a compliment: The character is a bit of a loser. “I found out about this towards the start of a new job,” says Shaller, putting the best spin on it. “It made for wonderful icebreaking conversation in the lunchroom.”
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