D.C. club owner Seth Hurwitz got his big acting break as Johnny Randazzo in Green Book.
The 2019 Oscars was an event full of uniquely bizarre surprises. We saw Keegan-Michael Key float down to the stage like Mary Poppins, Spike Lee jump into Samuel L. Jackson’s arms, and Melissa McCarthy sport a ballgown of cats. Even after all that, everyone was still surprised at the end of the night when Green Book took home the Oscar for Best Picture.
However, to D.C. residents, the biggest shock might be that one of our own was featured in the Oscar-winning film.
If you have seen Green Book, think back to the very beginning of the film when Tony Lip returns a missing hat to Gio Loscudo. Now, picture the guy to Gio’s right, and you might realize he looks vaguely familiar. This is because the actor playing Johnny Randazzo is Seth Hurwitz, the owner of iconic DMV music venues, 9:30 Club, The Anthem, and Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Although never trained in acting, the 60-year-old concert promoter was born for the big screen. He had been sending audition tapes for roles in different movies and television shows, but finally caught a break through his pal, George Pelecanos. Pelecanos is a local D.C. crime author who helped Hurtwitz score a part on an HBO series he was creating called Treme.
Hurwitz told The Washington Post he landed the role “because [Pelecanos] realized I wouldn’t leave him alone until he did.”
Hurwitz's part in Treme eventually led him to meet casting director Meagan Lewis, who sent him the script for Green Book. Once he received it, Hurwitz simply thought, “I have no chance in hell of getting this.” However, years of trying taught him humility, and he decided to send in an audition tape anyway.
He eventually caught his big break through another D.C. connection. Hurwitz happened to have lunch with Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, who is coincidentally connected to Peter Farrelly, the director of Green Book. Leonsis helped out a friend and got Hurwitz’s audition tape to the big man himself. From then on, it was movie history.
Hurwitz shot his scenes and says that he owes this chance of a lifetime all to Ted. He eventually saw Green Book at the theaters on opening day, and although he’s proud of his accomplishments, he was slightly disappointed that his scene was cut. However, that’s all just a part of show biz, and Hurwitz still amazed all of us back home.
Hurwitz’s big break came in the form of an Academy Award. His story tells us not only to never give up, but that the city has big things in store for us. You don’t have to live in Los Angeles or New York to chase your dreams, and instead, the opportunities and connections that exist right in our nation’s capital can get you to where you want to be.
What did you think of Hurwitz’s story, and how did you feel about Green Book? Let us know in the comments!