||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2014)|
at Pen America/Free Expression Literature
(May 5, 2014)
|Born||Wallace Michael Shawn
November 12, 1943
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, voice actor, stand-up comedian, singer, dancer, playwright, essayist|
Wallace Michael "Wally" Shawn (born November 12, 1943) is an American actor, voice actor, stand-up comedian, singer, dancer, playwright, and essayist, best known for appearing in film roles, such as Wally Shawn in the Louis Malle-directed comedy-drama My Dinner with Andre (1981), Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987), Ezra in The Haunted Mansion, providing the voice of Rex in the Toy Story franchise, providing the voice of Gilbert Huph in The Incredibles (2004), and providing the voice of Calico in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010). He also starred in a variety of television series, including Gossip Girl and recurring appearances as Grand Nagus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–99).
His plays include The Designated Mourner, Aunt Dan and Lemon, and Grasses of a Thousand Colors. He also co-wrote the screenplay for My Dinner with Andre with Andre Gregory, and he scripted Vanya on 42nd Street, a film adaptation of Anton Chekov's play Uncle Vanya. His latest film from June 2014 was A Master Builder based on the play by Henrik Ibsen.
Shawn was born in New York City, New York on November 12, 1943 to William Shawn, the long-time editor of The New Yorker, and journalist Cecille Shawn (née Lyon); his brother, Allen, is a composer. Shawn attended The Putney School, a private liberal arts high school in Putney, Vermont, and graduated with an A.B. in history from Harvard College. He studied philosophy, politics and economics, as well as Latin, at Magdalen College, Oxford, originally intending to become a diplomat; he also traveled to India as an English teacher, on a Fulbright program. He then taught Latin in Manhattan, but since 1979, Shawn has made a living primarily as an actor.
Shawn's early plays, such as Marie and Bruce (1978), portrayed emotional and sexual conflicts in an absurdist style, with language that was both lyrical and violent. In a conversation with Andre Gregory, parts of which were used to create My Dinner with Andre, Shawn referred to these plays as depicting "my interior life as a raging beast." Critical response was extremely polarized: some critics hailed Shawn as a major writer, while John Simon called Marie and Bruce "garbage" and described Shawn as "one of the unsightliest actors in this city". His play A Thought in Three Parts caused a minor uproar in London in 1977 when the production was investigated by a vice squad and attacked in Parliament due to allegedly pornographic content.
His later plays became more overtly political, drawing parallels between the psychology of his characters and the behavior of governments and social classes. Among the best-known of these are Aunt Dan and Lemon (1985) and The Designated Mourner (1997). Shawn's political work has invited controversy, as he often presents the audience with several contradictory points of view, such as Aunt Dan and Lemon, which Shawn described as a cautionary tale against fascism. The monologue The Fever, originally created by Shawn to be performed for small audiences in apartments, describes a person who becomes sick while struggling to find a morally consistent way to live when faced with injustice, and harshly criticizes the record of the U.S. in supporting oppressive anti-communist regimes. In 1997, Shawn discussed the political nature of Aunt Dan and Lemon, The Fever, and The Designated Mourner in an interview. In this interview Shawn talked extensively with Patrick Mcgrath about the thematic developments between the three plays, as well as his own views on Marxist, communist and socialist politics, their relevance to American liberalism, and how government and individual responsibilities for finding solutions to the dichotomy between rich and poor in the world take hold in the characters presented in his plays. Shawn's four plays have been adapted into films: The Designated Mourner (basically a film version of David Hare's stage production), Marie and Bruce, My Dinner with Andre, and The Fever. Oscar-winner Vanessa Redgrave stars in The Fever (2004), which first aired on HBO on June 13, 2007.
Shawn has also written political commentary for The Nation, and in 2004 he published the one-issue-only progressive political magazine Final Edition, which features interviews with and articles by Jonathan Schell, Noam Chomsky, Mark Strand, and Deborah Eisenberg. Shawn is credited as translator of Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, which opened at Studio 54 in Manhattan on March 25, 2006. He appears briefly in voice-over during "Song about the Futility of Human Endeavor." He published his first nonfiction work, Essays, on September 1, 2009. It is a collection of essays that expresses his perceptions of politics and other subjects that reflect an aspect of his life.
Shawn's involvement with theater began in 1970 when he met Andre Gregory, who has since directed several of his plays. As a stage actor, he has appeared mostly in his own plays and other projects with Gregory. He made his film debut in 1979, playing Diane Keaton's former husband in Woody Allen's Manhattan and an insurance agent in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. His best-known film roles include Earl in Strange Invaders (1983) and Mr. Hall in Clueless (1995). After seeing his performance in My Dinner With Andre (1981), casting director Janet Hirshenson was so fond of his delivery of the word "inconceivable" that she cast him as Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987). Other roles include Baron Von Westphalen in Southland Tales, in Gossip Girl as Cyrus Rose, and in The Haunted Mansion as Ezra.
His rare non-comedic film roles include two collaborations with Andre Gregory and Louis Malle: the semiautobiographical dialogue My Dinner with Andre, and a combined production-and-backstage-drama of Uncle Vanya titled Vanya on 42nd Street. Shawn quite often appears on television, where he has appeared in many genres and series. He has had recurring roles as the Grand Nagus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Stuart Best in Murphy Brown, Jeff Engels in The Cosby Show, Dr. Howard Stiles in Crossing Jordan, Arnie Ross in Taxi, and a reprisal of his role as Mr. Hall in Clueless (based on the film). He appeared in the 1985 music video for Chaka Khan's "This is My Night." On February 4, 2010, Shawn appeared as Alan Rubin in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He appeared in Vegas Vacation (1997) as Marty. Shawn's latest film opened in his birthplace in New York in June 2014 titled A Master Builder.
Shawn was honored in 2005 with the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a Master American Dramatist.
Shawn is also a voice actor for animated films and television series, including Rex in the Toy Story franchise, Mr. Huph in The Incredibles, Mazur in A Goofy Movie, Bertram in Family Guy, Munk in Happily N'Ever After, and as a caricature of himself in BoJack Horseman. In The Fox and the Hound, he was originally going to voice Boomer, but dropped out and was replaced by Paul Winchell. In Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Shawn replaced Jon Lovitz as the voice of Calico. Coincidentally, Lovitz and Shawn both appeared in I Could Never Be Your Woman.
|1979||Starting Over||Workshop Member|
|1979||All That Jazz||Assistant Insurance Man|
|1980||Simon||Eric Van Dongen|
|1980||Atlantic City||Waiter||Credited as Wally Shawn|
|1981||Cheaper to Keep Her||Mugger|
|1981||My Dinner with Andre||Wally Shawn||Also screenwriter|
|1982||A Little Sex||Oliver|
|1983||How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days||Professor Silverfish|
|1983||The First Time||Jules Goldfarb|
|1983||Deal of the Century||Harold DeVoto|
|1983||Saigon: Year of the Cat||Frank Judd|
|1984||The Hotel New Hampshire||Freud|
|1984||The Bostonians||Mr. Pardon|
|1984||Micki + Maude||Elliot Fibel|
|1985||Heaven Help Us||Father Abruzzi|
|1985||Head Office||Mike Hoover|
|1987||The Bedroom Window||Henderson's Attorney|
|1987||Radio Days||Masked Avenger|
|1987||Nice Girls Don't Explode||Ellen|
|1987||Prick Up Your Ears||John Lahr|
|1987||The Princess Bride||Vizzini|
|1989||She's Out of Control||Dr. Fishbinder|
|1989||Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills||Howard|
|1989||We're No Angels||Translator|
|1991||Shadows and Fog||Simon Carr|
|1992||Unbecoming Age||Dr. Block|
|1992||Nickel & Dime||Everett Willits|
|1992||Mom and Dad Save the World||Sibor|
|1993||The Cemetery Club||Larry|
|1993||The Meteor Man||Mr. Little|
|1994||Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle||Horatio Byrd|
|1994||Vanya on 42nd Street||Vanya|
|1995||Canadian Bacon||Canadian Prime Minister|
|1995||A Goofy Movie||Principal Mazur||Voice|
|1995||Clueless||Mr. Wendell Hall|
|1995||Just Like Dad||Stan Speigel|
|1996||All Dogs Go to Heaven 2||Labrador MC||Voice|
|1996||House Arrest||Vic Finley|
|1997||Just Write||Arthur Blake|
|1999||The Diary of the Hurdy-Gurdy Man|
|1999||My Favorite Martian||Coleye|
|1999||Toy Story 2||Rex||Voice|
|2000||The Prime Gig||Gene|
|2001||The Curse of the Jade Scorpion||George Bond|
|2001||Monsters, Inc.||Rex||Voice; uncredited|
|2002||Love Thy Neighbor||Clinic Doctor|
|2002||Personal Velocity: Three Portraits||Mr. Gelb|
|2002||Mr. St. Nick||Mimir|
|2003||Monte Walsh||Colonel Wilson|
|2003||The Haunted Mansion||Ezra|
|2004||Teacher's Pet||Crosby Strickler||Voice|
|2004||Melinda and Melinda||Sy|
|2004||The Incredibles||Gilbert Huph||Voice|
|2004||Karroll's Christmas||Zeb Rosecog|
|2005||Chicken Little||Principal Fetchit||Voice|
|2006||The 12th Man||Marty|
|2006||Southland Tales||Baron Von Westphalen|
|2006||Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers||Purple Pirate Paul||Voice|
|2007||Happily N'Ever After||Munk||Voice|
|2007||I Could Never Be Your Woman||Math Teacher||Uncredited|
|2007||New York City Serenade||Himself|
|2008||Kit Kittredge: An American Girl||Mr. Gibson|
|2008||Mia and the Migoo||Migoo||Voice, English-language version|
|2009||Capitalism: A Love Story||Himself||Documentary|
|2010||Jack and the Beanstalk||Broker / Booker / Lancelot Squarejaw|
|2010||Furry Vengeance||Christian Burr|
|2010||Toy Story 3||Rex||Voice|
|2010||Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore||Calico||Voice|
|2011||The Speed of Thought||Sandy|
|2011||Tower Heist||Mr. McBurns|
|2011||Hawaiian Vacation||Rex||Voice; short film|
|2011||Small Fry||Rex||Voice; short film|
|2012||Partysaurus Rex||Rex||Voice; short film|
|2012||A Late Quartet||Gideon Rosen|
|2013||Toy Story of Terror!||Rex||Voice; television special|
|2013||The Double||Mr. Papadopoulos|
|2014||A Master Builder||Halvard Solness||Also screenwriter|
|2014||Toy Story That Time Forgot||Rex||Voice; television special|
|2016||Animal Crackers||Mr. Woodley||Voice|
|1982–83||Taxi||Arnie Ross||Episode: "Love Un-American Style"
Episode: "Arnie Meets the Kids" (as Arnie)
|1987–91||The Cosby Show||Jeff Engels||Episode: "Cliff's Mistake" (as Jeffrey Engels)
Episode: "The Day the Spores Landed" (as Jeff Engels)
Episode: "Cliff's Nightmare" (as Jeffrey Engels; voice)
Episode: "The Moves" (as Jeff Engels)
Episode: "Olivia's Field Trip" (as Jeffrey Engels)
|1992||The Double 0 Kid||Cashpot|
|1992||Civil Wars||Riley Baker|
|1992||One Life to Live||Professor Marvel|
|1993||The Pink Panther||Little Man||Voice
|1994||The Nanny||Charles Haste||1 episode|
|1995||Something Wilder||Roof Inspector||1 episode|
|1996||Toy Story Treats||Rex||Voice|
|1996–97||Clueless||Mr. Hall||17 episodes|
|1994–97||Murphy Brown||Stuart Best||4 episodes|
|1997||King of the Hill||Philip Ny||Voice
|1998||The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story||Tarzan||Voice|
|1998||The Lionhearts||5 episodes|
|1999||Homicide: Life on the Street||Frank Hopper||1 episode|
|1993–99||Star Trek: Deep Space Nine||Grand Nagus Zek||7 episodes|
|1999||Cosby||Mr. Fleming||2 episodes|
|2000||Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins||Rex||Voice|
|2000||Teacher's Pet||Crosby Strickler||Voice|
|2001||Ally McBeal||Mr. Dune||1 episode|
|2001||Blonde||I. E. Shinn|
|2001||Three Sisters||Dean Webb||1 episode|
|2004||Sex and the City||Martin Grable||1 episode|
|2005||Fat Actress||Sigmund von Oy||1 episode|
|2005||Stargate SG-1||Arlos||Episode: "The Ties That Bind"|
|2005||Desperate Housewives||Lonny Moon||1 episode|
|2001–06||Crossing Jordan||Howard Stiles||8 episodes|
|2006||Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers||Purple Pirate Paul / Narrator||Voice|
|2006||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Film Professor||1 episode|
|2008||The Return of Jezebel James||Garson Leeds||1 episode|
|2008||Cashmere Mafia||Animal Handler||1 episode|
|2008||Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King||Mr. Gibbles||Voice|
|2009||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Roy Batters||1 episode|
|2009||Life on Mars||Stephen Morrell - "The Sorcerer"||1 episode|
|2008–09||The L Word||William Halsey||5 episodes|
|2009||ER||Teddy Lempell||1 episode|
|2010||The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Alan Rubin||1 episode|
|2010||Damages||Sterling Biddle||1 episode|
|2008–13||Gossip Girl||Cyrus Rose||11 episodes|
|2011||Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness||Taotie||Voice only|
|2011||Eureka||DoD psychological assessor Warren Hughes||3 episodes|
|2012||Fish Hooks||Rat King||Voice
Episode: "Guys' Night Out"
|2013–14||The Good Wife||Charles Lester||2 episodes|
|2013||Uncle Grandpa||Ule Gapa||Voice
Episode: "Belly Bros"
|2014||Phineas and Ferb||Saul||Voice
Episode: "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer"
|2014||Mozart in the Jungle||Winslow|
|2014||Courage The Cowardly Dog||Eustace Bagge||Voice
The Fog of Courage (Short)
|2014||Mysteries Of Laura Kenneth Walters|
|1996||Toy Story: The Video Game||Rex||Voice only|
|Toy Story Activity Center|
|2004||The Incredibles: The Video Game||Gilbert Huph|
|2006||Family Guy Video Game!||Bertram|
|2008||The Princess Bride Game||Vizzini|
|2010||Toy Story 3: The Video Game||Rex|
|2012||Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse||Bertram|
|1981||My Dinner with Andre|
|1997||The Designated Mourner||Play
|2004||Marie and Bruce||Screenplay|
|2009||Essays||Book collection of essays, by Haymarket Books|
|1995||Charlie Rose||TV series
|Showbiz Today||TV series
|2001||As You Wish: The Story of The Princess Bride|
|E! True Hollywood Story||TV series
|Clueless: The Class of '95|
|Up Close with Carrie Keagan||TV series
|2008||USIDent TV: Surveilling the Southland|
|The Windmill Movie|
|2009||Capitalism: A Love Story|
|Made in Hollywood||TV series
|2012||Up with Chris Hayes||TV series
|2014||BoJack Horseman||TV series
|Four Meals in May||1967|
|The Family Play||1970|
|The Hotel Play||1970|
|The Hospital Play||1971|
|Our Late Night||1975|
|A Thought in Three Parts||1976|
|Marie and Bruce||1978|
|Aunt Dan and Lemon||1985|
|The Designated Mourner||1997; film directed by David Hare, 1998|
|The Threepenny Opera||2006|
|Grasses of a Thousand Colors||2008|
- Steindler, Catherine. "Interviews, Deborah Eisenberg, The Art of Fiction No. 218". The Paris Review.
- Ciampaglia, Dante A. (August 1, 2014). "Film Review: A Master Builder". Architectural Record. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
- "Wallace Shawn Biography (1943-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- Brantley, Ben. "There’s Room for Everyone Aboard a Marital Misery Tour" The New York Times. April 6, 2011.
- "Whistlerinthedark". Whistlerinthedark.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- Hill, Gary. "BOMB Magazine — Wallace Shawn by Patrick McGrath". Bombsite.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- "The-Fever - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - NYTimes.com". Movies.nytimes.com. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- "Celeb video: ‘I am Bradley Manning’ - Patrick Gavin". Politico.Com. 2013-06-20. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- "I am Bradley Manning (full HD)". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
- Wallace Shawn: Why I Call Myself a Socialist. MSNBC. February 20, 2012.
- Huffington Post, Why I Call Myself a Socialist: Is the World Really a Stage? February 3, 2011
- "Higgins, J. "The End of Room-Space: Domesticity and the Absent Audience in Wallace Shawn's the Fever." Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. 26.2 (2012): 57-74.
- King, W.D. (1997). Writing Wrongs: The Work of Wallace Shawn. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-517-8
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wallace Shawn.|
- Wallace Shawn at the Internet Movie Database
- Wallace Shawn at the Internet Broadway Database
- Wallace Shawn at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Works by or about Wallace Shawn in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Hilton Als (Summer 2012). "Wallace Shawn, The Art of Theater No. 17". The Paris Review.
- Yahoo! author index
- An Innocent Man in Guantanamo with readings by Wallace Shawn at LIVE from the New York Public Library, April 4, 2008
- Lannan Foundation: Wallace Shawn reading of The Fever