’80s Actor or Dead Terrorist?

Sep 30, 2011 1:43pm

If you’re a fan of 1980s adventure comedies but not quite up-to-speed on the war on terror, you could be forgiven for wondering why “The Jewel of the Nile” star Avner Eisenberg’s picture has suddenly gone viral.

“Jewel” lovers, take heed: It’s not actually Eisenberg’s picture you’re seeing but rather that of a disturbing Eisenberg doppleganger – al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a CIA drone strike in Yemen overnight.

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At left, Anwar al Awlaki; at right, Avner Eisenberg as Jewel in "The Jewel of the Nile" (AP/Picture Desk)

Even Eisenberg himself admits that al-Awlaki bore an eerie resemblance to what Eisenberg looked like when playing the bearded, bespectacled title character in the 1985 Michael Douglas-Kathleen Turner film.

The cleric had a “really striking resemblance to that [Jewel] character. I wonder if he based his image on the movie,” Eisenberg told ABC News.

The 62-year-old Eisenberg is alive and well and living in Maine. The actor has traded celluloid for Vaudeville, frequently travelling to Europe and South America to stage his one-man show, “Exceptions to Gravity.”

With his now-gray beard and balding head, Eisenberg said that he no longer looks much like his Jewel character or al-Awlaki — and that’s a good thing, he said, for practical reasons.

“I suspect it would have caused problems because I do travel internationally a lot,” he said.

He said that he’s not the only Vaudeville entertainer who could be confused for a terrorist.

Shoe bomber Richard Reed, he said, is “the spitting image” of one of The Flying Karamazov Brothers.

“Maybe this Vaudeville thing is a dangerous business to be in,” he joked.

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