Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn

Birth name: Wallace Michael Shawn
Born: November 12, 1943
Age: 75
Birthplace: New York City, New York, U.S.
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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 in the Louis Malle directed comedy-drama My Dinner with Andre (1981), Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987), Mr. Wendell 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. His book Essays was published in 2009 by Haymarket Books.


Early life

Shawn was born on November 12, 1943 in New York City, to 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. Shawn attended The Putney School, a private liberal arts high school in Putney, Vermont, and graduated with an 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.



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." 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. He was also awarded the Obie Award for best playwrighting in 1974 for his play Our Late Night.

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 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. Aunt Dan and Lemon earned Shawn his second Obie Award for excellence in playwrighting in 1986, and The Fever won Best American Play in 1991. 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), 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 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.


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.

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

Voice acting

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, 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. 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

In June 2013, Shawn and numerous other celebrities appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning. 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.

Shawn was born to Jewish parents, but now identifies as an atheist. He resides in Manhattan, New York City.

Wallace Shawn also voiced his support for the Palestinian people during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

Wallace is a member of Jewish Voice for Peace and is on the advisory board.

His longtime companion is writer Deborah Eisenberg.



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


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
1983 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"
1992 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"
1993 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
1995 Something Wilder Roof Inspector Episode: "Dr. Roof"
1995 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
1998 The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story Tarzan (voice) Television special
1998 The Lionhearts (voice) 5 episodes
1999 Homicide: Life on the Street Frank Hopper Episode: "A Case of Do or Die"
1999 Cosby Mr. Fleming 2 episodes
2000-01 Teacher's Pet Crosby Strickler (voice) 6 episodes
2001 Ally McBeal Mr. Dune Episode: "Falling Up"
2001 Blonde I. E. Shinn 2 episodes
2001 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
2002 Teamo Supremo Gauntlet (voice) Episode: "Running the Gauntlet"
2002 Mr. St. Nick Mimir Television film
2003 Monte Walsh Colonel Wilson Television film
2003 Stanley Mr. Goldberg (voice) Episode: "Going-Away Goose/Time to Climb!"
2004 Sex and the City Martin Grable Episode: "Splat!"
2004 Karroll's Christmas Zeb Rosecog Television film
2005 Fat Actress Sigmund von Oy Episode: "The Koi Effect"
2005 Stargate SG-1 Arlos Kadawam Episode: "The Ties That Bind"
2005 Desperate Housewives Lonny Moon Episode: "They Asked Me Why I Believe in You"
2006 The 12th Man Marty Pilot
2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Film Professor Episode: "Weeping Willow"
2008 The Return of Jezebel James Garson Leeds Episode: "I'm with Blank"
2008 Cashmere Mafia Animal Handler Episode: "Dog Eat Dog"
2009 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Roy Batters Episode: "Snatched"
2009 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"
2010 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 (voice) 9 episodes
2012 Fish Hooks Rat King (voice) Episode: "Guys' Night Out"
2013 Adventure Time Rasheeta (voice) Episode: "Puhoy"
2013 Uncle Grandpa Ule Gapa (voice) Episode: "Belly Bros"
2013 Toy Story of Terror! Rex (voice) Television special
2013-15 The Good Wife Charles Lester 3 episodes
2014 Phineas and Ferb Saul (voice) Episode: "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer"
2014 Courage the Cowardly Dog Eustace Bagge (voice) Episode: "The Fog of Courage"
2014 Toy Story That Time Forgot Rex (voice) Television special
2014 The Mysteries of Laura Kenneth Walters Episode: "The Mystery of the Sex Scandal"
2014 Club Penguin: Monster Beach Party Gary the Gadget Guy (voice) Television special
2014 The 7D Not-So-Magic Mirror (voice) Episode: "Mirror, Mirror"
2014 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) 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"
2016 Regular Show The Evil Brain (voice) Episode: "The Brain of Evil"
2017 Cop and a Half: New Recruit Principal Miller Television film
2017 OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes Wally the White (voice) Episode: "You Got Me"
2017 Mr. Robot Mr. Williams Episode: "eps3.2_legacy.so"
2017 Graves Jerry North 3 episodes
2017 She's Gotta Have It Julius Kemper 2 episodes
2017 The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Herb Smith Episode: "Doink"
2017 Trollhunters Unkar the Unfortunate (voice) Episode: "Unbecoming"

Video games

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 Multiverse Bertram
2016 King's Quest Manny/Manannan


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


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


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

[ Source: Wikipedia ]