Robert Elmer Balaban (born August 16, 1945) is an American actor, author, producer, and director. He was one of the producers nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture for Gosford Park (2001), in which he also appeared. Balaban’s other film roles include the drama Midnight Cowboy (1969); the science fiction films Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Altered States (1980), and 2010 (1984); the Christopher Guest comedies Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), and For Your Consideration (2006); the dark fantasy film Lady in the Water (2006); and the Wes Anderson films Moonrise Kingdom (2012), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and Isle of Dogs (2018).
Balaban has directed three feature films, in addition to numerous television episodes and films. He is also an author of children’s novels.