Funny Guy

Handsome, athletic, 34-year-old Michael Rosenbaum has played villain Lex Luthor on the hit young adult drama “Smallville” for six years.

Landing at Los Angeles International Airport on the afternoon of Oct. 20, 2006, I checked my Blackberry for messages:

r u ready for tomorrow. dont want to wear u guys out.
I texted back: landing now. call me in the a.m.

“OK,” I assured my traveling companion, Tucker Publishing Group Associate Art Director Jesse Southerland.  “We’re in touch and he knows we’re out here.”

We’d arrived in Los Angeles to interview actor Michael Rosenbaum, best known as Lex Luthor on the long-running Superman drama, “Smallville.”  The Rosenbaums lived down the street from me growing up in Newburgh.

The welcoming – and foretelling – text message was a continuation of a lively banter that began six weeks earlier when an e-mail from an unfamiliar address arrived:

Hey, It’s Michael Rosenbaum.

My mother’s been going on and on about Evansville Living. I’d love to talk to you about it. Hope all is well.

Michael Rosenbaum

Of course, we’d like to do a story!  Anyone can do a phone interview, I told Michael.  “If Evansville Living does a story on Michael Rosenbaum, we’ll come out to L.A. to see how you live, who you hang out with, and just what it means to be a kid from Newburgh who’s made it big – really big – in Hollywood.”

Pastrami and Toilet Paper

Beginning Saturday morning at 9 a.m., when Michael picked us up at a hotel off Sunset Boulevard – screaming down the street in his new silver BMW M5 convertible and wearing a Castle Knights T-shirt – Jesse and I spent 20 fast, furious, and fun hours with Lex Luthor. Our adventures began with a stop at the Canyon Market, an upscale deli at the base of the mountain where Michael lives (for pastrami sandwiches and toilet paper) and ended at the 50th birthday party of “Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher, at her Coldwater Canyon home (formerly the actress Bette Davis’s home) where Michael presented the birthday cake with famed director George Lucas.

In between, we shopped all day, Michael’s favorite pastime. Clearly, Michael’s threat to wear us out was not idle. But before the shopping extravaganza began, we unloaded our camera and overnight bags, and dined on our pastrami sandwiches, at Michael’s home of three years, located near the top of Holly-wood’s Lookout Mountain.

“The neighborhood is like a Greenwich Village on the hill,” says Michael’s mother and Evansville resident, Julie Engel-hardt. “I get the feeling there are a lot of musicians and artists living on the street.”

The three-story Arts and Crafts style home is perfectly suited to the 34-year-old bachelor.  His collections – music, books, guitars, movie art, action figures, and toys – fill every shelf.  The closet in his master bedroom houses at least 100 pairs of cool, urban-style shoes; his hundreds of T-shirts (Michael’s main uniform), including several Castle Knights and Sharon Crusaders T-shirts, are neatly hung and folded.

The lower-level game room features a vintage Galaga video game, Michael’s first big purchase in New York City when he started to make a bit of money, and a “wicked” karaoke machine. Viewers of MTV likely have seen Michael’s home on the show “Cribs,” which takes a look into celebrity homes. In it, he and buddy Christopher McDonald, a producer on PBS’s Tavis Smiley Show, practice karaoke singing to Wham’s pop hit of 1984, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”

Parked out front, alongside his sweet BMW, is Michael’s custom van. “I wanted a van so bad as a kid,” Michael says. “The Currys, down the street (in Newburgh, growing up), had one and I was so jealous because my parents had sports cars. So now I have my van, totally customized, perfect for that road trip to San Fran.”


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