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Terry Zwigoff Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (1) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (5) | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (1)

Date of Birth 18 May 1949Appleton, Wisconsin, USA

Mini Bio (1)

Born in Appleton, Wisconsin, Zwigoff held several jobs before making his breakthrough feature: the documentary Crumb (1994) in 1994. His previous jobs included musician, shipping clerk, printer and welfare office worker. In fact, Zwigoff traces his film career back to discovering a rare blues recording by an unknown Chicago blues musician he discovered in 1978. The experience of the two years spent researching this artist, a highly eccentric Howard Armstrong, became Zwigoff's first film project, a documentary titled Louie Bluie (1985) which premiered at Telluride and Sundance before it's theatrical run. Zwigoff's next project became the toast of the festival circuit in 1994. A documentary on the underground comic artist Robert Crumb, "Crumb" won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance as well as citations from the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics and the Directors Guild of America. It also became the third highest grossing documentary of all time and was on over 150 Ten Best Lists by years end. However, along with another 1994 documentary hopeful Hoop Dreams (1994), its failure to win even a nomination in the 1994 Academy Awards' Best Documentary Feature category caused an uproar that resulted in a demand to change the way the Academy voters choose the documentary feature nominees. "Crumb" chronicled Zwigoff's acquaintance of nearly two decades of Robert Crumb's life, career, the underground comic scene as well as Crumb's dysfunctional family. Even though it caused a momentary rift between the documentarian and the comic book artist, it has been reported that they have reconciled and are currently collaborating on a screenplay called "The New Girlfriend".

Even with the enormous success of "Crumb", Zwigoff refused to sell out to Hollywood. His aversion to corporate commercialism is a well-known trademark. He turned down many more commercial projects while he struggled for five years to make a feature film out of Daniel Clowes's underground comic strip "Ghost World". Released in 2001, Ghost World (2001) became the summer art house hit and captured Golden Globe nominations for Steve Buscemi and Thora Birch, who played the teenage protagonist Enid. "Ghost World" also brought acclaim for Zwigoff and his co-screenwriter Daniel Clowes, a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay in the 2002 Academy Awards. Ghost World wound up on over 150 Ten Best Lists for 2001.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Nabila N.

Spouse (1)

Missy Axelrod (? - ?)

Trivia (5)

Was offered $10,000 to appear in a commercial campaign using hip filmmakers to endorse The Gap but turned it down, saying "I would find it a bit disingenuous after having spent 5 years of my life making a film railing against the evils of Corporate America.".
Resides in San Francisco, California.
Was offered the chance to direct Elf (2003), but turned it down.
Avid collector of old 78s records (mostly jazz, country and blues). He also plays (at least) cello, saw and mandolin and continues to play in the Cheap Suit Serenaders, a band formed by Robert Crumb in 1972. The band, with Terry Zwigoff, plays once a year at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, CA.
Father was a Jewish farmer who moved the family to Chicago when Terry was five years old.

Personal Quotes (6)

I've stopped going to see art films because every critic gives them four stars and say things like "masterpiece", "spellbinding" and "mesmerizing". I mean, they're doing that with my film, but I don't want to use those blurbs. Critical reviews aren't worth too much anymore because just about every film can get one or two of them.
The films I want to make, I really want to be passionate about.
If I see my films described as 'quirky' or, even worse, 'snarky' one more time, I'm going to probably seriously consider an early retirement. All these years I've labored under the conceit that they were "darkly humorous.
I rarely see a film made these days that I get excited about, but I find myself watching a lot of films from the 1940s and 50s over and over again. While my favorite music and painting is from the late 1920s and early 30s, it's usually films from the 40s and 50s that do it for me.
It's certainly a difficult time right now to try to make small, smart films. I'm not trying to be self-serving, but you know, you get to Hollywood, and if you want to make something big and loud and dumb, it's pretty easy. It's very hard to go down there and make a film like Sideways (2004) , which I thought was a great film. They don't want to make films like that anymore, even though that film was very successful. It's more of a financial risk, basically. Most of the corporations that decide which films get made hedge their bets that they can make bigger, louder, dumber films, which the people stumbling around the Cineplex want to see. Nothing subtle about them.
I'm more interested in dialogue; most of the scripts I've gone after to direct, there's generally just something about the dialogue. Like Bad Santa (2003), there was one line in the script that was so good that I was desperately trying to get the job. It was something like, "Sweet Jews for Jesus!" [Laughs]. One of the most inspired lines I'd ever read. Any regional dialect like that in a script really appeals to me, if it's done right. One of the things I'm working on right now is an Elmore Leonard book that I'm adapting, and I love the dialogue. The Coen brothers do a lot of movies with a very strong regional dialect. I love the movie they did with Tom Hanks, The Ladykillers (2004). That woman Irma P. Hall, I could listen to her all day.

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