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  • Real name : Wallace Michael Shawn
  • Place of birth : New York City
  • Date of birth : 12/11/1943

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  • Shawn Wallace

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Wallace Shawn (1943)

Wallace Michael Shawn

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  Summary  

Wallace Michael Shawn , sometimes credited as Wally Shawn, is an American stand-up comedian, actor, writer, author, voice artist, and intellectual. His best-known film roles include Wally Shawn in My Dinner with Andre , Vizzini in The Princess Bride , and debate teacher Mr. Hall in Clueless .

On television he played Grand Nagus Zek on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Shawn is well known for his distinctive and high pitched voice. In the animated Toy Story films he provided the voice of Rex, an insecure toy Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Shawn has pursued a parallel career as a playwright whose work is often dark, politically charged and controversial.

He most recently starred as the voice of Taotie in Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.

  Biography  

 early life
Shawn was born into a prominent Jewish family in New York City, where he continues to reside. He is the son of William Shawn, the longtime 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 economics and philosophy at Oxford, originally intending to become a diplomat; he also traveled to India as an English teacher, on a Fulbright program. Since 1979, Shawn has made a living primarily as an actor.

 career
 Playwright

Shawn's early plays, such as Marie and Bruce , 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 and The Designated Mourner . 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.


Four of Shawn's 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 , 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 voiceover during "Song about the Futility of Human Endeavor."

He published his first non-fiction 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
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 ex-husband in Woody Allen's Manhattan as well as in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz, as an insurance agent. His best-known film roles include Earl in Strange Invaders and Mr. Hall in Clueless . After seeing his performance in My Dinner With Andre , casting director Janet Hirshenson was so fond of his delivery of the word 'inconceivable' that she cast him as the evil Vizzini in The Princess Bride .

His rare non-comic 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 on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Stuart Best on Murphy Brown, Jeffrey "Jeff" Engels on The Cosby Show, Dr. Howard Stiles on Crossing Jordan, Arnie Ross on Taxi, and a reprisal of his role as Mr. Hall in the television series Clueless, based on the film. Another recent role is Baron Von Westphalen on the 2005 film Southland Tales. Shawn has also appeared in Gossip Girl as Cyrus Rose and in The Haunted Mansion as Ezra. On February 4, 2010, he appeared as Dr. Alan Rubin in The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

 Voice acting

Shawn is also a voice actor for animated films and animated TV series, including the role of the timid Rex in Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Hawaiian Vacation and Monsters, Inc. , Mr. Incredible's diminutive boss Gilbert Huph in The Incredibles, Stewie Griffin's half-brother Bertram in Family Guy, and Munk in Happily N'Ever After.

Shawn also cameoed as the voice of Principal Fetchit in Chicken Little.

In The Fox and the Hound, he provided the voice of Boomer, but he was soon replaced by the late Paul Winchell.

Shawn also replaced Jon Lovitz as the voice of the elderly Calico in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, the 2010 sequel to the 2001 film Cats & Dogs. Coincidentally, Lovitz and Shawn both appeared in the 2007 film I Could Never Be Your Woman.

 personal life
Shawn is the son of William Shawn, the longtime editor of The New Yorker, and journalist Cecille Shawn (née Lyon). His brother, Allen, is a composer.

His longtime companion is writer Deborah Eisenberg.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Wallace Shawn", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.