Wallace Shawn

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Wallace Shawn
Wallace Shawn 2014 (cropped).jpg
Shawn in May 2014
Born Wallace Michael Shawn
(1943-11-12) November 12, 1943 (age 74)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Residence Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater
Occupation Actor, voice actor, comedian, playwright, essayist
Years active 1967–present
Partner(s) Deborah Eisenberg[1]
Parent(s)
Relatives Allen Shawn (brother)

Wallace Michael Shawn (born November 12, 1943) is an American actor, voice actor, comedian, playwright and essayist. His film roles have included those of Wally Shawn (a fictionalized version of himself) in the Louis Malle directed comedy-drama My Dinner with Andre (1981), Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987), Mr. James Hall in Clueless (1995) and providing the voice of Rex in the Toy Story franchise. He has also appeared in a variety of television series, including recurring roles as Grand Nagus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999) and Cyrus Rose in Gossip Girl (2008–2012).

His plays include Obie Award winning Aunt Dan and Lemon (1985), The Designated Mourner (1996) and Grasses of a Thousand Colors (2008). He also co-wrote the screenplay for My Dinner with Andre with Andre Gregory, and he scripted A Master Builder (2013), a film adaptation of the play by Henrik Ibsen, which he also starred in.[2] His book Essays was published in 2009 by Haymarket Books.

Early life[edit]

Shawn was born in New York City, to a Jewish family.[3][4][5][6] His parents are William Shawn (1907–1992), the long-time editor of The New Yorker, and journalist Cecille Shawn (née Lyon; 1906–2005); his brother, Allen, is a composer.[7] Shawn attended The Putney School, a private liberal arts high school in Putney, Vermont, and graduated with a B.A. 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, has made a living primarily as an actor.

Career[edit]

Playwright[edit]

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."[8] His 1977 play A Thought in Three Parts caused controversy in London when the production was investigated by a vice squad and attacked in Parliament after allegations of pornographic content.[9] He was also awarded the Obie Award for best playwrighting in 1974 for his play Our Late Night.[10]

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 United States 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 which he talked extensively 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.[11] Aunt Dan and Lemon earned Shawn his second Obie Award for excellence in playwrighting in 1986,[12] and The Fever won Best American Play in 1991.[13] 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),[14] 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 featured 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.

Acting[edit]

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, on Gossip Girl as Cyrus Rose, and in The Haunted Mansion (2003) as Ezra.

His rare non-comedic film roles include two collaborations with Andre Gregory and Louis Malle: the semi-autobiographical 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, Charles Lester in The Good Wife, 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. One of Shawn's latest films opened in his birthplace in New York in June 2014 titled A Master Builder.[2]

Shawn was honored in 2005 with the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award as a Master American Dramatist.

Voice acting[edit]

Shawn is also a voice actor for animated films and television series, including Rex in the Toy Story franchise, Mr. Gilbert Huph in The Incredibles, Principal Mazur in A Goofy Movie, Bertram in Family Guy, Munk in Happily N'Ever After, Purple Pirate Paul in Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers, 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.[15] 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.

Personal life[edit]

In June 2013, Shawn and numerous other celebrities appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning.[16] He has referred to himself as a socialist in an essay titled Why I Call Myself a Socialist: Is the World Really a Stage?, which was published online and later in a nonfiction collection titled Essays.[17]

Shawn was born to Jewish parents, but now identifies as an atheist.[3][4][5][6] He resides in Manhattan, New York City.[18] Shawn voiced his support for the Palestinian people during the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict.[19] Wallace is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and is on the advisory board.[20]

His longtime companion is writer Deborah Eisenberg.[21]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1979 Manhattan Jeremiah
Starting Over Workshop Member
All That Jazz Assistant Insurance Man
1980 Simon Eric Van Dongen
Atlantic City Waiter Credited as Wally Shawn
1981 Cheaper to Keep Her Mugger
My Dinner with Andre Wally Shawn Also writer
Strong Medicine Uncredited
1982 A Little Sex Oliver
1983 Lovesick Otto Jaffe
The First Time Jules Goldfarb
Strange Invaders Earl
Deal of the Century Harold DeVoto
1984 Crackers Turtle
The Hotel New Hampshire Freud
The Bostonians Mr. Pardon
Micki & Maude Elliot Fibel
1985 Heaven Help Us Father Abruzzi
Head Office Mike Hoover
1987 The Bedroom Window Henderson's Attorney
Radio Days Masked Avenger
Nice Girls Don't Explode Ellen
Prick Up Your Ears John Lahr
The Princess Bride Vizzini
1988 The Moderns Oiseau
1989 She's Out of Control Dr. Herman Fishbinder
Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills Howard
We're No Angels Translator
1991 Shadows and Fog Simon Carr
1992 Unbecoming Age Dr. Block
Nickel & Dime Everett Willits
The Double 0 Kid Cashpot Direct-to-video
Mom and Dad Save the World Sibor
1993 The Cemetery Club Larry
The Meteor Man Mr. Little
1994 Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle Horatio Byrd
Vanya on 42nd Street Vanya
1995 The Wife Cosmo
Napoleon Echidna Vouce; American dub
Canadian Bacon Canadian Prime Minister Clark MacDonald
A Goofy Movie Principal Mazur Voice
Clueless Mr. James Hall
Toy Story Rex Voice
1996 All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 Labrador MC
House Arrest Vic Finley
1997 Vegas Vacation Marty
Just Write Arthur Blake
Critical Care Furnaceman
The Designated Mourner Writer
1998 Noah Zack
1999 The Diary of the Hurdy-Gurdy Man
My Favorite Martian Coleye
Toy Story 2 Rex Voice
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins Voice; Direct-to-video
2000 The Prime Gig Gene
2001 The Curse of the Jade Scorpion George Bond
Monsters, Inc. Rex Voice; Uncredited cameo
2002 Love Thy Neighbor Clinic Doctor
Personal Velocity: Three Portraits Mr. Gelb
2003 Duplex Herman
The Haunted Mansion Ezra
2004 Teacher's Pet Crosby Strickler Voice
Melinda and Melinda Sy
The Incredibles Gilbert Huph Voice
Marie and Bruce Writer
The Fever
2005 Chicken Little Principal Fetchit (voice)
2006 Southland Tales Baron Von Westphalen
Air Buddies Billy Voice; Direct-to-DVD
Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers Purple Pirate Barnacle Paul
2007 Happily N'Ever After Munk Voice
I Could Never Be Your Woman Math Teacher Uncredited
2008 Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mr. Gibson
Mia and the Migoo Migoo Voice; English dub
Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King Mr. Gibbles Voice; Direct-to-DVD
2009 Jack and the Beanstalk Broker / Booker / Lancelot Squarejaw
2010 Furry Vengeance Christian Burr Uncredited
Toy Story 3 Rex Voice
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Calico
Tea Time Short film; writer
2011 The Speed of Thought Sandy
Hawaiian Vacation Rex Voice; Short film
Small Fry
2012 Partysaurus Rex
A Late Quartet Gideon Rosen
Vamps Van Helsing
2013 Admission Clarence
The Double Mr. Papadopoulos
A Master Builder Halvard Solness Also writer and producer
2014 Don Peyote Psychotherapist
2015 Maggie's Plan Kliegler
Robo-Dog Mr. Willis Direct-to-DVD
2016 Drawing Home Mr. Garfield
2017 Animal Crackers Mr. Woodley (voice)
The Only Living Boy in New York David
Someone Else's Wedding Albert
2018 Book Club Derek
2019 Toy Story 4 Rex Voice; In production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1982–83 Taxi Arnie Ross 2 episodes
1983 How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days Professor Silverfish Television film
Saigon: Year of the Cat Frank Judd Television film
1987–91 The Cosby Show Jeff Engels 5 episodes
1992 Civil Wars Riley Baker Episode: "A Bus Named Desire"
One Life to Live Professor Marvel Unknown episodes
1993 Eligible Dentist Pilot
1993–99 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Grand Nagus Zek 7 episodes
1993 The Pink Panther Little Man (voice) Episode: "Ice Blue Pink/Pink Trek"
Matrix Mr. Gonley Episode: "Lapses in Memory"
1994 The Nanny Charles Haste Episode: "Pishke Business"
1994–97 Murphy Brown Stuart Best 4 episodes
1995 Kalamazoo Bobby Short
Something Wilder Roof Inspector Episode: "Dr. Roof"
Just Like Dad Stan Speigel Television film
1996 Toy Story Treats Rex Voice; 18 episodes
1996–97 Clueless Mr. Hall 17 episodes
1997 King of the Hill Philip Ny (voice) Episode: "How to Fire a Rifle Without Really Trying"
1998 Blind Men Pilot
The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story Tarzan (voice) Voice; Television special
The Lionhearts Voice; 5 episodes
1999 Homicide: Life on the Street Frank Hopper Episode: "A Case of Do or Die"
Cosby Mr. Fleming 2 episodes
2000–01 Teacher's Pet Crosby Strickler (voice) 6 episodes
2001 Ally McBeal Mr. Dune Episode: "Falling Up"
Blonde I. E. Shinn 2 episodes
Three Sisters Dean Webb Episode: "Don't Be Thrown"
2001–06 Crossing Jordan Howard Stiles 8 episodes
2001–11 Family Guy Bertram Voice; 3 episodes
2002 Sun Gods Spaulding Pilot
Teamo Supremo Gauntlet Voice; Episode: "Running the Gauntlet"
Mr. St. Nick Mimir Television film
2003 Monte Walsh Colonel Wilson Television film
Stanley Mr. Goldberg Voice; Episode: "Going-Away Goose/Time to Climb!"
2004 Sex and the City Martin Grable Episode: "Splat!"
Karroll's Christmas Zeb Rosecog Television film
2005 Fat Actress Sigmund von Oy Episode: "The Koi Effect"
Stargate SG-1 Arlos Kadawam Episode: "The Ties That Bind"
Desperate Housewives Lonny Moon Episode: "They Asked Me Why I Believe in You"
2006 The 12th Man Marty Pilot
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Film Professor Episode: "Weeping Willow"
2008 The Return of Jezebel James Garson Leeds Episode: "I'm with Blank"
Cashmere Mafia Animal Handler Episode: "Dog Eat Dog"
2009 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Roy Batters Episode: "Snatched"
Life on Mars Stephen Morrell – "The Sorcerer" Episode: "Let All the Children Boogie"
2008–09 The L Word William Halsey 5 episodes
2009 ER Teddy Lempell Episode: "The Beginning of the End"
2010 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Alan Rubin Episode: "Anthony Weiner"
Damages Sterling Biddle Episode: "Don't Forget to Thank Mr. Zedeck"
2008–12 Gossip Girl Cyrus Rose 11 episodes
2011–12 Eureka Warren Hughes 3 episodes
2011–16 Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness Taotie Vouce; 9 episodes
2012 Fish Hooks Rat King (voice) Episode: "Guys' Night Out"
2013 Adventure Time Rasheeta Voice; Episode: "Puhoy"
Uncle Grandpa Ule Gapa Voice; Episode: "Belly Bros"
Toy Story of Terror! Rex Voice; Television special
2013–15 The Good Wife Charles Lester 3 episodes
2014 Phineas and Ferb Saul Vouce; Episode: "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer"
Courage the Cowardly Dog Eustace Bagge Voice; Episode: "The Fog of Courage"
Toy Story That Time Forgot Rex Voive; Television special
The Mysteries of Laura Kenneth Walters Episode: "The Mystery of the Sex Scandal"
Club Penguin: Monster Beach Party Gary the Gadget Guy Voice; Television special
The 7D Not-So-Magic Mirror Voice; Episode: "Mirror, Mirror"
BoJack Horseman Himself Voice; Episode: "One Trick Pony"
2014–18 Mozart in the Jungle Winslow Elliot 6 episodes
2014 Christmas at Cartwright's Harry Osbourne Television film
2015 Club Penguin: Halloween Panic! Gary the Gadget Guy (voice) Voice; Television special
2016 The Night Shift Mr. Neville Episode: "Unexpected"
2016–18 The Stinky & Dirty Show Tall Voice; 12 episodes
2016 Life in Pieces Samuel Episode: "Eyebrow Anonymous Trapped Gem"
Regular Show The Evil Brain Voice; Episode: "The Brain of Evil"
2017 Cop and a Half: New Recruit Principal Miller Television film
OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes Wally the White Voice; Episode: "You Got Me"[citation needed]
Mr. Robot Mr. Williams Episode: "eps3.2_legacy.so"
Graves Jerry North 3 episodes
She's Gotta Have It Julius Kemper 2 episodes
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Herb Smith Episode: "Doink"
Trollhunters Unkar the Unfortunate Voice; Episode: "Unbecoming"
2018 Young Sheldon Dr. John Sturgis 3 episodes
The Good Fight Charles Lester Episode: "Day 471"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1996 Toy Story: The Video Game Rex
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 Bertram
2013 Disney Infinity Rex
2016 King's Quest Manny/Manannan [22]
Disney Magic Kingdoms Rex
2018 Lego The Incredibles Gilbert Huph
2019 Kingdom Hearts III Rex

Other[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008–2016 Toy Story: The Musical Rex Voice

Plays[edit]

Title Year
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 Fever 1990
The Designated Mourner 1997
The Threepenny Opera 2006
Grasses of a Thousand Colors 2008
Evening at the Talk House 2015

Bibliography[edit]

Year Title Notes
2009 Essays Book collection of essays, by Haymarket Books
2017 Night Thoughts Published by Haymarket Books

References[edit]

  1. ^ Steindler, Catherine (Spring 2013). "Interviews, Deborah Eisenberg, The Art of Fiction No. 218". The Paris Review. 
  2. ^ a b Ciampaglia, Dante A. (August 1, 2014). "Film Review: A Master Builder". Architectural Record. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "Bag of Tricks". Tablet Magazine. 
  4. ^ a b "Interview: Wallace Shawn". 
  5. ^ a b "JUF : Tweens : Celebrities : Wallace Shawn". 
  6. ^ a b "Councils, Staff and Board of Jewish Voice for Peace". Jewish Voice for Peace. 
  7. ^ see pg. 20 of liner notes accompanying "Allen Shawn – Piano Works" CD issued by Coviello Classics label (COV 91414)> "Allen Shawn - Klavierwerke". Music Reference. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  8. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 5, 2011). "There's Room for Everyone Aboard a Marital Misery Tour". The New York Times. Retrieved January 5, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Aunt Dan and Lemon". Whistler in the Dark. 2011. Archived from the original on March 23, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  10. ^ Obie Awards "1974 Winners"
  11. ^ McGrath, Patrick (Spring 1997). "Wallace Shawn by Patrick McGrath". BOMB Magazine. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  12. ^ Obie Awards "1986 Winners"
  13. ^ Obie Awards, "1991 Winners"
  14. ^ Richmond, Ray (June 12, 2007). "Redgrave laid low by HBO's heavy "Fever"". Reuters. Retrieved January 5, 2017. 
  15. ^ "We Bet You Didn't Know These Actors Voice Characters in Both Disney and Disney Pixar Movies". Oh My Disney. 2015-06-19. Retrieved 2017-09-14. 
  16. ^ Gavin, Patrick (June 20, 2013). "Celeb video: 'I am Bradley Manning'". Politico. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  17. ^ Shawn, Wallace (February 3, 2011). "Why I Call Myself a Socialist: Is the World Really a Stage?". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 5, 2017. 
  18. ^ Als, Hilton (Summer 2012). "Wallace Shawn, The Art of Theater No. 17". The Paris Review. Retrieved December 17, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Wallace Shawn on Gaza: "The Anger of the Palestinians Cannot Be Ended by Killing Their Children"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-12-22. 
  20. ^ "Councils, Staff and Board of Jewish Voice for Peace". Jewish Voice for Peace. Retrieved 2017-12-22. 
  21. ^ Steindler, Catherine (Spring 2013). "Interviews, Deborah Eisenberg, The Art of Fiction No. 218". The Paris Review. Retrieved January 6, 2017. 
  22. ^ The Odd Gentlemen. King's Quest – Chapter III: Once Upon A Climb. Sierra Entertainment. Scene: Closing credits, 1 min in, Cast. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Higgins, J. (2012). "The End of Room-Space: Domesticity and the Absent Audience in Wallace Shawn's the Fever". Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism. 26 (2): 57–74. 
  • King, W. D. (1997). Writing Wrongs: The Work of Wallace Shawn. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-517-8. 

External links[edit]