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Alexander Payne

Alexander Payne

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Also Known As: Constantine Alexander Payne Died:
Born: February 10, 1961 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Omaha, Nebraska, USA Profession: screenwriter, director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Throughout his critically acclaimed career, writer-director Alexander Payne showed a remarkably poignant vision with his films, in which the often quirky set-up was merely a launching point for a seriocomic exploration into human foibles. With "Citizen Ruth" (1996), Payne examined the gravely serious issue of reproductive rights, an unlikely subject for what turned out to be an adroit satire that managed to both present and rankle both sides of the issue. For his next film, "Election" (1999), he used a seemingly inconsequential high school presidential race to plumb the darkest recesses of our mutable human nature. Then there was "About Schmidt" (2002), which used a cross country journey to depict an anchorless average man trying to make sense of his life. But Payne - alongside longtime writing partner Jim Taylor - had perhaps his greatest critical success with "Sideways" (2004), an excursion into wine country that explored the unlikely friendship of two men struggling with their perceived failures. "Sideways" earned Payne numerous accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. His critically acclaimed drama "The Descendants" (2011) also earned rave reviews and its director another Best...

Throughout his critically acclaimed career, writer-director Alexander Payne showed a remarkably poignant vision with his films, in which the often quirky set-up was merely a launching point for a seriocomic exploration into human foibles. With "Citizen Ruth" (1996), Payne examined the gravely serious issue of reproductive rights, an unlikely subject for what turned out to be an adroit satire that managed to both present and rankle both sides of the issue. For his next film, "Election" (1999), he used a seemingly inconsequential high school presidential race to plumb the darkest recesses of our mutable human nature. Then there was "About Schmidt" (2002), which used a cross country journey to depict an anchorless average man trying to make sense of his life. But Payne - alongside longtime writing partner Jim Taylor - had perhaps his greatest critical success with "Sideways" (2004), an excursion into wine country that explored the unlikely friendship of two men struggling with their perceived failures. "Sideways" earned Payne numerous accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. His critically acclaimed drama "The Descendants" (2011) also earned rave reviews and its director another Best Screenplay Oscar, all of which helped cement his reputation as a visionary filmmaker adept at making unflinching films depicting the more uncomfortable aspects of human nature.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Nebraska (2013)
2.
3.
  Sideways (2004) Director
4.
  About Schmidt (2002) Director
5.
  Election (1999) Director
6.
  Citizen Ruth (1996) Director
7.
  Passion of Martin, The (1989) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1989:
Screened his student film "The Passion of Martin" at the Sundance Film Festival
:
Landed a job at Universal Pictures, writing several unproduced scripts
:
Completed several shorts for Propaganda Films (aired on the Playboy Channel)
1996:
Made screenwriting (co-written with Jim Taylor) and directing debut with "Citizen Ruth"; premiered at the Sundance Film Festival
1999:
Directed and co-wrote (with Taylor) his second feature "Election," a dark comedy starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon
1999:
Signed a $1 million deal to write and direct "Sideways" for Artisan Entertainment
2001:
With Taylor contributed to the script of "Jurassic Park 3"
2002:
Directed and co-scripted (with Taylor) "About Schmidt"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director
2004:
Directed and co-scripted the critically acclaimed "Sideways"; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director and was nominated by the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement
2007:
Executive produced the films "King of California" and "The Savages"
2007:
Teamed with Taylor to write an early draft of "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry"
2009:
Executive produced a Japanese feature adaptation of his film "Sideways"
2011:
Directed and co-wrote "The Descendants," starring George Clooney; also produced
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Creighton Preparatory School: Omaha , Nebraska -
Stanford University: Stanford , California -
University of California at Los Angeles: Los Angeles , California - 1990

Notes

"I like satire and comedy based in painful experience. Humor and satire allow distance by asking you to take a step back and look at the situation as if it is in a fishbowl, which can perhaps give people a certain objective perspective on things." --Alexander Payne quoted in press material for "Citizen Ruth"

When asked how his parents felt about his choice to pursue a career in filmmaking, Payne was quoted: "For them, I'm the lawyer who never was. My older brother is a doctor. You know for them law, medicine and business were good professions. They never discouraged me regarding filmmaking, but they didn't encourage me either. I felt strongly about what I was doing and they trusted my judgment, but when I was struggling for a living after graduating from UCLA, they kept offering me money to enroll in law school." --in "Meet Alexander Payne" by Dan Georgakas, The Greek American, January 18, 1997

Payne was an altar boy at the local Orthodox Church when he was growing up. Because of his Greek heritage, he requested that "Citizen Ruth" have its European debut at the Thessaloniki Film Festival.

Payne on using his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska as a filming location: "No one raises an eyebrow when Spike Lee and Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese shoot in New York or Tarantino shoots in L.A. If you're from an out-of-the-way place like Omaha, it's 'Why do you want to shoot there?' But if you have deep roots and it means something to you, you want to use that." --quoted in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, February 1, 1998

"I feel personally responsible for the future of American cinema. Me personally. But so should you." --Payne quoted in SPLICED ONLINE, April 16, 1999

"The most heinous shift in American films is that they reinforce good things like 'couples' and 'relationships'. I think films have to have a little danger and should go further in terms of questioning things - maybe everything we know is wrong, maybe we are all profoundly fucked up, and what can we do about it?" --Payne quoted in L.A. WEEKLY, April 23-29, 1999

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Sandra Oh.

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