File:Darren Aronofsky GIFF 2013.jpeg

Aronofsky (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Noah, the upcoming blockbuster by Manhattan Beach native Darren Aronofsky, will feature a little extra local love when it comes out on March 28 now that Aronofsky has revealed a cameo by his favorite teacher, Mrs. Fried of Mark Twain Junior High School.

Hollywood Reporter did a feature about the movie and producers’ attempts to appease Christian audiences without losing its creative edge. It’s all very boring unless you’re a Hollywood wonk, but the article also touched on the junior high school teacher who encouraged him, and the contest he won that gave him the confidence to pursue writing and creativity.

When Darren Aronofsky was a 13-year old in Brooklyn, he had one of those unforgettable teachers. Mrs. Fried dressed in pink and drove a pink Mustang; Aronofsky says she was “magical.” When she assigned his English class to write about peace, Aronofsky produced a poem about the dove that wings its way to Noah aboard the ark in the Bible. When the poem won a United Nations contest, it sparked Aronofsky’s nascent faith in his creative powers.

Aronofsky, 44, would’ve been in junior high school in the 1980s. The article doesn’t mention it, but the director is an alum of Coney Island’s Mark Twain Junior High School.

Fried retired some years ago, but Aronofsky sought a unique thank you gift for inspiring him.

Aronofsky asked his mother, herself a retired schoolteacher, to track down Mrs. Fried. She found her in Florida, and Aronofsky invited her to the set. True to form all these years later, she arrived in a pink car, dressed in pink. Aronofsky gave her a cameo in the film. You can spot her playing a one-eyed crone in a scene with Crowe.

We were first tipped off to the anecdote by a Facebook post from Adrienne Knoll, a spokesperson for Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and former Courier-Life editor. Knoll interviewed Aronofsky for the paper when he was just a 15-year-old student at Edward R. Murrow High School, and did a separate story on Mrs. Fried. Here’s what she recalled about meeting the teacher some years ago:

 We got to talking and I heard all about her pink Mustang convertible, which she won for being a superstar salesperson for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Aronofsky was right — in addition to being a hoot she was also an engaging teacher who made her kids believe there was nowhere she’d rather be than standing in front of a classroom.

Here’s to awesome teachers, and former pupils who remember to say thank you later in life.

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