Meet and Greet: 2017 Cincy Comic Expo – Wallace Shawn

I first saw Wallace in The Princess Bride as Vizzini but his voice became part of my household “regular” when he was the sound of Rex in Toy Story.  Browsing his IMDB I am utterly amazed at his body of work (large/small, as an actor/as a voice).  I was prepared for a funny funny panel.  However, he was a tad bit sad(ish).

My notes from his panel:

  • His favorite collection of music is Steely Dan
  • Asked: How do you feel when you are turned down for a role?  Answer: A little more bitter, I suppose.
  • Most of his time is spent as a writer.  This is a fascinating fact for me.
  • It is odd listening to a panel where the guest is disclosing being in debt before he dies…suddenly a dark turn in his conversation.
  • First time he saw himself on-screen was in Woody Allen’s Manhattan.  He did not know when he’d appear because Woody does not let you read the script.
  • Hearing himself creeps him out.  Which I think is funny given his body of voice acting work.
  • He was utterly amazed at the turnout for this panel.  The room was packed.  He kept looking around in awe.  At one point one of those blow up TRex suits came in and it was fun to see him acknowledge the TRex at the back of the room.  After all, he is the voice of Rex.
  • I come away from this panel feeling as if he prattled on.  He was all over the place, disjointed and sounded heavily depressed.

Some Clips of Wallace Shawn:

IMDB Facts:

  • DOB November 12, 1943
  • Born to privilege on November 12, 1943 in New York City, Wallace was the son of renowned editor William Shawn of “The New Yorker” fame and educated at both Harvard University, where he studied history, and Magdalen College, Oxford. Wallace initially taught English in India on a Fulbright scholarship, and then English, Latin and drama back in New York. However, a keen interest in writing and acting soon compelled him to leave his cushy position and pursue a stage career as both playwright and actor. During his distinguished career, Wallace turned out several plays. “Our Late Night”, the first of his works to be performed, was awarded an off-Broadway Obie in 1975. “A Thought in Three Parts” (1976); “The Mandrake” (1977), which he translated from the original Italian and in which he made his acting debut; “Marie and Bruce” (1979); “Aunt Dan and Lemon” (1985) and “The Fever”, for which he received his second Obie Award for “Best New Play” during the 1990-91 season, then followed. A popular support player in both comedy and occasional drama, his assorted kooks, creeps, eggheads and schmucks possessed both endearing and unappetizing qualities. He earned some of his best early notices partnered with theatre director/actor Andre Gregory in the unique Louis Malle-directed film My Dinner with Andre (1981). Shawn co-wrote the improvisatory, humanistic piece and his brother, Allen Shawn, was the composer. Shawn and Gregory would collaborate again for Malle in another superb, original-concept film Vanya on 42nd Street (1994). Among the quality offbeat filming involving has been Bruce Paltrow‘s A Little Sex (1982); James Ivory‘s The Bostonians (1984); Stephen FrearsPrick Up Your Ears (1987); Rob Reiner‘s The Princess Bride (1987); Alan Rudolph‘s The Moderns (1988) and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994); Paul Bartel‘s Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989); and several others for Woody Allen: Radio Days (1987), Shadows and Fog (1991), The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001) and Melinda and Melinda (2004). Of late, he has lent his vocal talents to a considerable number of animated pictures including A Goofy Movie (1995), Toy Story (1995) (and its sequel), The Jungle Book: Mowgli’s Story (1998), The Incredibles (2004), Chicken Little (2005) and Happily N’Ever After (2006).
  • Does not own a television set.
  • In 2005 he received a career achievement award from the PEN/Laura Pels Foundation. The writers organizations gave him this honor for his work in the theater.
  • Is the longtime companion of Deborah Eisenberg.
  • Is afraid of heights.
  • Has a younger sister named Mary who has been institutionalized since the mid-1950s, when she was six. Mary was diagnosed with what were then referred to as mental retardation and “infantile schizophrenia”, the former term for the condition now diagnosed under the name “autism”.
  • Did not start acting until he was age 36.
  • Quote: “I have more free time than a lot of individuals, so, instead of talking, I sometimes write.”
  • Quote: “In real life, every person is the leading man or woman. We don’t think of ourselves as supporting or character actors.”

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