Alexander Payne – Unmasking dark humor and hometown
Alexander Payne is a critically acclaimed scriptwriter and director whose pieces include movies such as Nebraska, The Descendants, and About Schmidt. His works are a little bit of real-life drama and a little bit of dark comedy mixed into one.
Alexander Payne (born Constantine Alexander Payne) was born the son of Peggy and George Payne, who own a Greek restaurant in Omaha Nebraska. The youngest of 3, Alexander graduated from Creighton Prep high school in 1979. There, he started writing a humor column for the school paper and was editor of his school yearbook. He studied Spanish language and History in college at Stanford and briefly lived in Medillin Columbia after graduating.
Payne believes his breakthrough began with his film, “The Passion of Martin” (1991) which sparked higher rating works such as “Citizen Ruth” (1996), “About Schmidt” (2002), “Sideways” (2004), “The Descendants” (2011) and “Nebraska” (2013) to name a few.
Alexander Payne is touted as saying that he likes to capture a strong sense of place in his films and he’s really connected to his hometown in Omaha Nebraska. His films are mostly set in this type of real-world America and they seem to balance a little of real-life drama with a bit of dark humor. He likes to bring to the screen, not the fancy posh fantasy lives of people living in high rises making a lot of money, but more the real world working folks whose lives seem to be spinning out of control.
Alexander has won an Oscar for an adapted screenplay of “The Descendants” starring George Clooney, which was also nominated for three more awards, best picture, best director, and best actor. He has also had other films nominated for “About Schmidt” and “Sideways”, which in 2004 succeeded in winning “Best Screenplay Award”.
When talking about his hometown in Omaha, Alexander Payne says he very much considers it home. His parents still live there and he keeps his awards tucked away there. He claims that no matter where he is, Nebraska is always in his thoughts, especially his parents, whose Greek heritage has inspired him to make a Greek language movie that will be filmed in Greece someday soon.