A CFO gets ready for his close-up

With the brio of a middle-aged superhero, Alan Altschuler has peeled.

With the brio of a middle-aged superhero, Alan Altschuler has peeled off his pin-striped identity and flung it aside -- to reveal the actor within. The CFO of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, who began to study acting six years ago, left the organization on July 1 to pursue that calling full-time.

“I have no idea where this will take me,” he says. “Logic would say that I’m in New York, so I can do all kinds of theater here, but if working in film or television seems like the way to go, I’ll try that.”

The 58-year-old Wall Street veteran credits a friend, character actor James Murtaugh (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Vanilla Sky, All the President’s Men), with inspiring him. But Altschuler’s thespian fever didn’t spike until last fall, when he auditioned for the lead role in an independent film -- and got the part.

“I was hooked,” he says, describing a predawn van ride with the film crew out to the shipyards of Red Hook, Brooklyn, for the shoot. “I showed up that first day for makeup, and they said, ‘Oh, Alan? You’re one of the actors.’ And I said to myself, ‘Well, I guess I am!’”

Altschuler’s role in the independent short film Off-Hour couldn’t be further removed from his life as a CFO. His character is a dying Norse god who keeps the world intact by playing a 12-foot Swiss alphorn, the wooden pipe made famous in television ads for Ricola cough drops. Needless to say, he had to take lessons.

“I was able to make some noise,” he says, “but it’s hard to imagine calling it music.”

Fortunately, Altschuler doesn’t have to worry about destroying his nascent career with an off-key note. The film -- directed by a young Swiss filmmaker, Daniel Frei -- will feature a professional soundtrack with good dubbing.