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Alexander Payne Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (8) | Trivia (21) | Personal Quotes (14)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 10 February 1961Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Birth NameAlexander Constantine Papadopoulos
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Director, producer and screenwriter Alexander Payne was born in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents, Peggy (Constantine) and George Payne, ran a Greek restaurant. His father is of Greek and German ancestry, and his mother is of Greek descent; the family name was originally Papadopoulos. He has two older brothers.

Alexander attended Stanford University, where he majored in Spanish and History. He then went on to study film at UCLA Film School. His university thesis film was screened at the Sundance film festival, which led to him being backed by Miramax to write and direct Citizen Ruth (1996). Payne prefers to have control over his movies, from scripts to cast.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Kad

Spouse (1)

Sandra Oh (1 January 2003 - 21 December 2006) (divorced)

Trade Mark (8)

Often sets his films in and around Omaha, Nebraska
Frequently films scenes at natural history museums
Frequently casts Phil Reeves
Frequently uses actual people in roles of minor characters in his movies (real life policemen for policemen, real life restaurant servers for servers, real life teachers for teachers)
Frequently incoporates telephone monologues as a dramatic device
His films often revolve around adultery in marriage and relationships
His films often deal with a sense of loneliness depicted by the main character
Features characters that endeavor for self-fulfillment and individualism (Sideways (2004), About Schmidt (2002)).

Trivia (21)

Attended Creighton Prep High School in Omaha, Nebraska
Studied at the University of Salamanca (Spain).
His father is of Greek and German ancestry, and his mother is of Greek descent. His paternal grandfather, a Greek immigrant, changed the family surname from "Papadopoulos" to "Payne".
Graduate of Stanford University.
Graduated in 1990 from UCLA Filmschool with a MFA in Theater Arts.
He grew up down the street from billionaire Warren Buffett.
Owns the Winnebago driven by Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) in About Schmidt (2002).
Is on the short list of directors who has final cut rights to his films.
Studied Spanish and History at Stanford.
Did an uncredited polishing-up of the final draft of Meet the Parents (2000).
Is a friend of David O. Russell.
One of his motivations to move the title character of About Schmidt (2002) from New York City in the novel to Payne's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska was as a tribute to the great history of "creative" people that hail from that small Midwestern city. Other famous people who are originally from Omaha include Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire, Montgomery Clift and Nick Nolte.
Member of the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Directors Branch) [2005-]
Among his favorite filmmakers: Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Hal Ashby, Martin Scorsese and Sergio Leone.
Directed 7 actors in Oscar nominated performances: Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, George Clooney, Bruce Dern, and June Squibb.
Graduated film school at the age of 29.
Directed his first feature length film at the age of 35.
A serious film buff and scholar, Payne paid to have the silent 1917 Chaplin/"Little Tramp" film short The Adventurer (1917) restored and shown at the Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna, Italy in 2013, where he also introduced it, in Italian and English. He had also shown the film over 40 years before on his own 8mm projector to his friends back in Omaha, Nebraska when he was growing up.
Everytime he was nominated for the Best Director Oscar, Martin Scorsese was nominated in the same category alongside him: first in 2005 when Payne was nominated for Sideways (2004) and Scorsese for The Aviator (2004), then in 2012 when Payne was nominated for The Descendants (2011) and Scorsese for Hugo (2011) and finally in 2014 when Payne was nominated for Nebraska (2013) and Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).
All of his full-length feature films (thus not counting his segment on Paris, je t'aime (2006)) since About Schmidt (2002) have earned one of their male leads an Academy Award nomination: Jack Nicholson for About Schmidt (2002), Thomas Haden Church for Sideways (2004); George Clooney for The Descendants (2011), and Bruce Dern for Nebraska (2013).
During an interview to french site Télérama, he stated his desire to work with Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Bérénice Bejo and Jennifer Lawrence. [April 2014].

Personal Quotes (14)

[on Reese Witherspoon in Election (1999)] She inhabited that role fully, but she can do all these other roles. You see a woman in her, not a girl. She's going to be interesting for a long time.
[on Reese Witherspoon]: She has such intelligence and humor, so it was a joyous leap of faith. Working with her, I kept thinking of Holly Hunter, she is an actress who is equally at home in character roles and in leads and in comedy and in drama.  Reese has that kind of range, as an actress and as a human being.
[on casting] They [the studios] go through that process where they think you have to find the most famous people possible and then they go down the line. That's a game I'm increasingly uninterested in - unless the most famous possible person also happens to be very correct in the part, like Jack Nicholson.
When studios entrust big Hollywood blockbusters to strong, intelligent directors, like Steven Soderbergh or Sam Raimi [Spider-Mans 1 and 2] or Alfonso Cuarón [the latest Harry Potter], I say 'God bless 'em', because those films will have legs and might stand the test of time. But if they rely on just product, like two examples from this year, Van Helsing (2004) and Catwoman (2004) - I'm glad they tanked.
I want all of my films to belong to me. There is an audience out there for literate films - slower, more observant, more human films, and they deserve to be made. Which is why I want Sideways (2004) to succeed, to encourage other film-makers.
While accepting his Director of the Year award for Sideways (2004) at the Palm Spring Film Festival: "I thank you for this award, though I think there may be a problem with a world in which making small, human and humorous films is 'an achievement.' It should be the norm".
We don't have movies about ourselves, and we don't have a national film culture. It shouldn't be an epic aspiration to make simple human stories, but it is.
Where is it written that if you are not getting your money from a studio you have more freedom? If I had tried to make Sideways with independent funding I would have had to secure foreign presales and cast big stars in order to get my budget. This movie took a studio to say 'We're gambling on you. Cast whoever you want.'
It's my hope that we're getting into an era where the value of a film is based on its proximity to real life rather than its distance from it. To do that, you need actors - stars, basically - who don't necessarily look like Ben Affleck.
When I'm shooting I don't care who the star is. I have an actor playing a part, and I'm serving the script, not serving anyone's career. My hope is that, after twenty minutes, perhaps the audience forgets it is George Clooney or Jack Nicholson and just sees the character.
One of cinema's greatest uses or values lies not just in it's ability to capture reality, but to capture or suggest dreams. And silent films excelled from the start in fully embracing the weirdness of real life and dream and how the two can be combined into a story, the likes of which I think, we've not seen in the talkies - a fuller, weirder totality of human experience.
[re I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2007)] "Chuck and Larry" was a disappointment. When Jim (Taylor) and I wrote the script, we went with a dark comedy approach. We knew when (Adam) Sandler was brought on board that he would toss out our work, bring his buddies on board, and turn it into a juvenile slapstick piece. That's fine, but that's not our work. About 5, maybe 10 percent of our script remained.
I don't want everything to be about the fucking Oscars. Does it keep me in business? Yes. The thing I lament is that we see good films only in the light of whether they get an Oscar. Where are those films throughout the year? Not just eight of them bunched up at the end, expecting to gird for battle.
[asked about some non-American directors he admires] The Thai guy with the unpronounceable name [Apichatpong Weerasethakul], he's good. Interesting rhythms. Weird. He has his own language. Um. Who else is good? One of the best films I've seen this century is an Uruguayan film from a few years ago called Whisky (2004). I've traditionally followed Pedro Almodóvar. Michael Haneke's Amour (2012) I think is the only true masterpiece we've had in the last how-many years. It's a tremendous film.

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