Gray's Anatomy


1h 20m 1997

Brief Synopsis

Acclaimed monologuist Spalding Gray recounts his latest neurotic exploits after he experiences blurriness in one eye. Diagnosed with a rare ocular disease, "drooping eye" -- and refusing, on quasi-religious grounds, to submit to conventional surgery -- Gray obsessively seeks out an array of alternative "natural" therapies, including: a Native American sweat ceremony; a raw vegetarian diet; and a visit to a Filipino doctor known as "the Elvis Presley of psychic surgeons."

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
1997
Production Company
Bbc Films; Fox Lorber Associates
Distribution Company
NORTHERN ARTS ENTERTAINMENT, INC.; Fox Lorber Home Video
Location
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m

Synopsis

Acclaimed monologuist Spalding Gray recounts his latest neurotic exploits after he experiences blurriness in one eye. Diagnosed with a rare ocular disease, "drooping eye" -- and refusing, on quasi-religious grounds, to submit to conventional surgery -- Gray obsessively seeks out an array of alternative "natural" therapies, including: a Native American sweat ceremony; a raw vegetarian diet; and a visit to a Filipino doctor known as "the Elvis Presley of psychic surgeons."

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
1997
Production Company
Bbc Films; Fox Lorber Associates
Distribution Company
NORTHERN ARTS ENTERTAINMENT, INC.; Fox Lorber Home Video
Location
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m

Articles

Spalding Gray (1941-2004)


Spalding Gray, the self-effacing monologist and actor, whose best work offered a sublime mix of personal confessions and politically charged insights, was confirmed dead on March 8 one day after his body was found in New York City's East River. He had been missing for two months and family members had feared he had committed suicide. He was 62.

Gray was born in Barrington, Rhode Island on June 5, 1941, one of three sons born to Rockwell and Elizabeth Gray. He began pursuing an acting career at Emerson College in Boston. After graduation, he relocated to New York, where he acted in several plays in the late '60s and early '70s. He scored a breakthrough when he landed the lead role of Hoss in Sam Shepard's Off-Broadway hit Tooth of Crime in its 1973 New York premiere. Three years later he co-founded the avant-garde theatrical troupe, The Wooster Group with Willem Dafoe.

It was this period in the late '70s, when he was performing in Manhattan's underground theater circles, did Gray carve out his niche as a skilled monologist. His first formal monologue was about his childhood Sex and Death to the Age 14, performed at the Performing Garage in Manhattan in 1979; next came his adventures as a young university student Booze, Cars and College Girls in 1980; and the following year, he dealt with his chronicles as a struggling actor, A Personal History of the American Theater. These productions were all critical successes, and Gray soon became the darling of a small cult as his harrowing but funny takes on revealing the emotional and psychological cracks in his life brought some fresh air to the genre of performance art.

Although acting in small parts in film since the '70s, it wasn't until he garnered a role in The Killing Fields (1984), that he began to gain more prominent exposure. His experiences making The Killing Fields formed the basis of his one-man stage show Swimming to Cambodia which premiered on Off-Broadway in 1985. Both haunting and humorous, the plainsong sincerity of his performance exuded a raw immediacy and fragile power. Gray managed to relate his personal turmoil to larger issues of morality throughout the play, including absurdities in filmmaking, prostitution in Bangkok (where the movie was shot), and the genocidal reign of the Pol Pot. Gray won an Obie Award - the Off-Broadway's equivalent to the Tony Award - for his performance and two years later, his play was adapted by Jonathan Demme onto film, further broadening his acceptance as a unique and vital artistic talent.

After the success of Swimming to Cambodia, Gray found some work in the mainstream: Bette Midler's fiance in Beaches (1988), a regular part for one season as Fran Drescher's therapist in the CBS sitcom The Nanny (1989-90), a sardonic editor in Ron Howard's underrated comedy The Paper (1994), and a recent appearance as a doctor in Meg Ryan's romantic farce Kate & Leopold (2001). He also had two more of his monologues adapted to film: Monster in a Box (1992) and Gray's Anatomy (1996). Both films were further meditations on life and death done with the kind of biting personal wit that was the charming trademark of Gray.

His life took a sudden downturn when he suffered a frightening head-on car crash during a 2001 vacation in Ireland to celebrate his 60th birthday. He suffered a cracked skull, a broken hip and nerve damage to one foot and although he recovered physically, the incident left him traumatized. He tried jumping from a bridge near his Long Island home in October 2002. Family members, fearing for his safety, and well aware of his family history of mental illness (his mother committed suicide in 1967) convinced him to seek treatment in a Connecticut psychiatric hospital the following month.

Sadly, despite his release, Gary's mental outlook did not improve. He was last seen leaving his Manhattan apartment on January 10, and witnesses had reported a man fitting Gray's description look despondent and upset on the Staten Island Ferry that evening. He is survived by his spouse Kathleen Russo; two sons, Forrest and Theo; Russo's daughter from a previous relationship, Marissa; and two brothers, Rockwell and Channing.

by Michael T. Toole
Spalding Gray (1941-2004)

Spalding Gray (1941-2004)

Spalding Gray, the self-effacing monologist and actor, whose best work offered a sublime mix of personal confessions and politically charged insights, was confirmed dead on March 8 one day after his body was found in New York City's East River. He had been missing for two months and family members had feared he had committed suicide. He was 62. Gray was born in Barrington, Rhode Island on June 5, 1941, one of three sons born to Rockwell and Elizabeth Gray. He began pursuing an acting career at Emerson College in Boston. After graduation, he relocated to New York, where he acted in several plays in the late '60s and early '70s. He scored a breakthrough when he landed the lead role of Hoss in Sam Shepard's Off-Broadway hit Tooth of Crime in its 1973 New York premiere. Three years later he co-founded the avant-garde theatrical troupe, The Wooster Group with Willem Dafoe. It was this period in the late '70s, when he was performing in Manhattan's underground theater circles, did Gray carve out his niche as a skilled monologist. His first formal monologue was about his childhood Sex and Death to the Age 14, performed at the Performing Garage in Manhattan in 1979; next came his adventures as a young university student Booze, Cars and College Girls in 1980; and the following year, he dealt with his chronicles as a struggling actor, A Personal History of the American Theater. These productions were all critical successes, and Gray soon became the darling of a small cult as his harrowing but funny takes on revealing the emotional and psychological cracks in his life brought some fresh air to the genre of performance art. Although acting in small parts in film since the '70s, it wasn't until he garnered a role in The Killing Fields (1984), that he began to gain more prominent exposure. His experiences making The Killing Fields formed the basis of his one-man stage show Swimming to Cambodia which premiered on Off-Broadway in 1985. Both haunting and humorous, the plainsong sincerity of his performance exuded a raw immediacy and fragile power. Gray managed to relate his personal turmoil to larger issues of morality throughout the play, including absurdities in filmmaking, prostitution in Bangkok (where the movie was shot), and the genocidal reign of the Pol Pot. Gray won an Obie Award - the Off-Broadway's equivalent to the Tony Award - for his performance and two years later, his play was adapted by Jonathan Demme onto film, further broadening his acceptance as a unique and vital artistic talent. After the success of Swimming to Cambodia, Gray found some work in the mainstream: Bette Midler's fiance in Beaches (1988), a regular part for one season as Fran Drescher's therapist in the CBS sitcom The Nanny (1989-90), a sardonic editor in Ron Howard's underrated comedy The Paper (1994), and a recent appearance as a doctor in Meg Ryan's romantic farce Kate & Leopold (2001). He also had two more of his monologues adapted to film: Monster in a Box (1992) and Gray's Anatomy (1996). Both films were further meditations on life and death done with the kind of biting personal wit that was the charming trademark of Gray. His life took a sudden downturn when he suffered a frightening head-on car crash during a 2001 vacation in Ireland to celebrate his 60th birthday. He suffered a cracked skull, a broken hip and nerve damage to one foot and although he recovered physically, the incident left him traumatized. He tried jumping from a bridge near his Long Island home in October 2002. Family members, fearing for his safety, and well aware of his family history of mental illness (his mother committed suicide in 1967) convinced him to seek treatment in a Connecticut psychiatric hospital the following month. Sadly, despite his release, Gary's mental outlook did not improve. He was last seen leaving his Manhattan apartment on January 10, and witnesses had reported a man fitting Gray's description look despondent and upset on the Staten Island Ferry that evening. He is survived by his spouse Kathleen Russo; two sons, Forrest and Theo; Russo's daughter from a previous relationship, Marissa; and two brothers, Rockwell and Channing. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1997

Released in United States January 1997

Released in United States May 9, 1997

Released in United States October 1996

Released in United States on Video October 14, 1997

Released in United States September 1996

Released in United States Spring March 19, 1997

Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival (Contemporary International Cinema) East Hampton, New York October 16-20, 1996.

Shown at Nortel Palm Springs International Film Festival in Palm Springs, California January 9-26, 1997.

Shown at Portland International Film Festival February 13 - March 2, 1997.

Shown at Toronto International Film Festival September 5-14, 1996.

Based on Spalding Gray's 1993 one-man show about his failing health.

Began shooting January 1996.

"Gray's Anatomy" marks the first non-documentary feature produced by the Independent Film Channel.

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at Portland International Film Festival February 13 - March 2, 1997.)

Released in United States January 1997 (Shown at Nortel Palm Springs International Film Festival in Palm Springs, California January 9-26, 1997.)

Released in United States Spring March 19, 1997

Released in United States May 9, 1997 (Laemmle's Monica 4; Los Angeles)

Released in United States September 1996 (Shown at Toronto International Film Festival September 5-14, 1996.)

Released in United States October 1996 (Shown at Hamptons International Film Festival (Contemporary International Cinema) East Hampton, New York October 16-20, 1996.)

Released in United States on Video October 14, 1997