Wallace Shawn

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Wallace Michael Shawn[1] (born November 12, 1943), sometimes credited as Wally Shawn, is an American comic character actor and author. He has pursued a parallel career as a playwright, and his work is often dark, politically charged and controversial.

Contents

Personal 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.[2] Shawn attended The Putney School, a private liberal arts high school in Putney, Vermont, and graduated with a B.A. in history from Harvard University. 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, he has made a living primarily as an actor.

Shawn's longtime companion is writer Deborah Eisenberg.

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. Shawn is known for his two famous lines "Inconceivable!" and "If ya please."

Shawn made his film debut in 1979, playing Diane Keaton's ex-husband in Woody Allen's Manhattan and appearing in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz as an insurance agent. His best-known film roles include Nancy Allen's lovable but doomed landlord Earl in Strange Invaders (1983), the evil Vizzini in the fairy tale comedy The Princess Bride (1987), and debate teacher Mr. Hall in Clueless (1995). 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.

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