Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn

Birth name: Wallace Michael Shawn
Born: November 12, 1943
Age: 80
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
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Wallace Michael Shawn (born November 12, 1943) is an American actor, playwright, and essayist, best known for appearing in film roles, such as Wally Shawn in the Louis Malle-directed comedy-drama My Dinner with Andre (1981), Vizzini in The Princess Bride (1987), Ezra in The Haunted Mansion, providing the voice of Rex in the Toy Story franchise, providing the voice of Gilbert Huph in The Incredibles (2004), and providing the voice of Calico in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010). He also starred in a variety of television series, including Gossip Girl and recurring appearances as Grand Nagus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-99).

His plays include The Designated Mourner, Aunt Dan and Lemon and Grasses of a Thousand Colors. He also co-wrote the screenplay for My Dinner with Andre with Andre Gregory, and he scripted Vanya on 42nd Street, a film adaptation of Anton Chekov's play Uncle Vanya. His book "Essays" was published in 2009 by Haymarket Books. His latest film from June 2014 was A Master Builder based on the play by Henrik Ibsen.


Early life

Shawn was born on November 12, 1943 in New York City, New York, to William Shawn, the long-time 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 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, Shawn 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 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 (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. 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 semiautobiographical 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, 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. Shawn's latest film 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. Huph in The Incredibles, 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 appeared on MSNBC referring to himself as a socialist and praising socialism in an essay.

Shawn was born to Jewish parents. He identifies as an atheist.

Shawn currently resides in New York City, New York, his hometown.



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 screenwriter
1981 Strong Medicine Uncredited
1982 A Little Sex Oliver
1983 How to Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days Professor Silverfish
1983 Lovesick Otto Jaffe
1983 The First Time Jules Goldfarb
1983 Strange Invaders Earl
1983 Deal of the Century Harold DeVoto
1983 Saigon: Year of the Cat Frank Judd
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 Mom and Dad Save the World Sibor
1993 The Cemetery Club Larry
1993 The Meteor Man Mr. Little
1993 Eligible Dentist
1994 Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle Horatio Byrd
1994 Vanya on 42nd Street Vanya
1995 The Wife Cosmo
1995 Napoleon Echidna
1995 Canadian Bacon Canadian Prime Minister
1995 A Goofy Movie Principal Mazur Voice
1995 Clueless Mr. Wendell Hall
1995 Just Like Dad Stan Speigel
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
1998 Blind Men
1998 Noah Zack
1999 The Diary of the Hurdy-Gurdy Man
1999 My Favorite Martian Coleye
1999 Toy Story 2 Rex Voice
2000 The Prime Gig Gene
2001 The Curse of the Jade Scorpion George Bond
2001 Monsters, Inc. Rex Voice; uncredited
2002 Sun Gods Spaulding
2002 Love Thy Neighbor Clinic Doctor
2002 Personal Velocity: Three Portraits Mr. Gelb
2002 Mr. St. Nick Mimir
2003 Monte Walsh Colonel Wilson
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 Karroll's Christmas Zeb Rosecog
2005 Chicken Little Principal Fetchit Voice
2006 The 12th Man Marty
2006 Southland Tales Baron Von Westphalen
2006 Air Buddies Billy Voice
2006 Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers Purple Pirate Paul Voice
2007 Happily N'Ever After Munk Voice
2007 I Could Never Be Your Woman Math Teacher Uncredited
2007 New York City Serenade Himself
2008 Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Mr. Gibson
2008 Mia and the Migoo Migoo Voice, English-language version
2009 Capitalism: A Love Story Himself Documentary
2010 Jack and the Beanstalk Broker / Booker / Lancelot Squarejaw
2010 Furry Vengeance Christian Burr
2010 Toy Story 3 Rex Voice
2010 Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Calico Voice
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 Toy Story of Terror! Rex Voice; television special
2013 The Double Mr. Papadopoulos
2014 Don Peyote Psychotherapist
2014 A Master Builder Halvard Solness Also screenwriter
2014 Christmas at Cartwright's Harry Osbourne An Angel
2014 Toy Story That Time Forgot Rex Voice; television special
2014 Club Penguin: Monster Beach Party Gary the Gadget Guy Voice; television special
2015 Club Penguin: Halloween Panic! Gary the Gadget Guy Voice; television special
2016 Animal Crackers Mr. Woodley Voice


Year Title Role Notes
1982-83 Taxi Arnie Ross Episode: "Love Un-American Style"
Episode: "Arnie Meets the Kids" (as Arnie)
1987-91 The Cosby Show Jeff Engels Episode: "Cliff's Mistake" (as Jeffrey Engels)
Episode: "The Day the Spores Landed" (as Jeff Engels)
Episode: "Cliff's Nightmare" (as Jeffrey Engels; voice)
Episode: "The Moves" (as Jeff Engels)
Episode: "Olivia's Field Trip" (as Jeffrey Engels)
1992 The Double 0 Kid Cashpot
1992 Civil Wars Riley Baker
1992 One Life to Live Professor Marvel
1993 Matrix Mr. Gonley
1993 The Pink Panther Little Man Voice
1 episode
1994 The Nanny Charles Haste 1 episode
1995 Kalamazoo Bobby Short
1995 Something Wilder Roof Inspector 1 episode
1996 Toy Story Treats Rex Voice
1996-97 Clueless Mr. Hall 17 episodes
1994-97 Murphy Brown Stuart Best 4 episodes
1997 King of the Hill Philip Ny Voice
1 episode
1998 The Jungle Book: Mowgli's Story Tarzan Voice
1998 The Lionhearts 5 episodes
1999 Homicide: Life on the Street Frank Hopper 1 episode
1993-99 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Grand Nagus Zek 7 episodes
1999 Cosby Mr. Fleming 2 episodes
2000 Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins Rex Voice
2000 Teacher's Pet Crosby Strickler Voice
2001 Ally McBeal Mr. Dune 1 episode
2001 Blonde I. E. Shinn
2001 Three Sisters Dean Webb 1 episode
2003 Stanley Mr. Goldberg Voice
1 episode
2002-04 Teamo Supremo Gauntlet Voice
1 episode
2004 Sex and the City Martin Grable 1 episode
2005 Fat Actress Sigmund von Oy 1 episode
2005 Stargate SG-1 Arlos Episode: "The Ties That Bind"
2005 Desperate Housewives Lonny Moon 1 episode
2001-06 Crossing Jordan Howard Stiles 8 episodes
2001-11 Family Guy Bertram Voice
3 episodes
2006 Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers Purple Pirate Paul / Narrator Voice
2006 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Film Professor 1 episode
2008 The Return of Jezebel James Garson Leeds 1 episode
2008 Cashmere Mafia Animal Handler 1 episode
2008 Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King Mr. Gibbles Voice
2009 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Roy Batters 1 episode
2009 Life on Mars Stephen Morrell - "The Sorcerer" 1 episode
2008-09 The L Word William Halsey 5 episodes
2009 ER Teddy Lempell 1 episode
2010 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Alan Rubin 1 episode
2010 Damages Sterling Biddle 1 episode
2008-13 Gossip Girl Cyrus Rose 11 episodes
2011 Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness Taotie Voice only
2011 Eureka DoD psychological assessor Warren Hughes 3 episodes
2012 Fish Hooks Rat King Voice
Episode: "Guys' Night Out"
2013-14 The Good Wife Charles Lester 2 episodes
2013 Adventure Time Rasheeta Voice
Episode: "Puhoy"
2013 Uncle Grandpa Ule Gapa Voice
Episode: "Belly Bros"
2014 Phineas and Ferb Saul Voice
Episode: "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer"
2014 Mozart in the Jungle Winslow Elliot
2014 Courage the Cowardly Dog Eustace Bagge Voice
The Fog of Courage (Short)

Video games

Video Games
Year Title Role Notes
1996 Toy Story: The Video Game Rex Voice only
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
2015 King's Quest Manny


Year Title Notes
1981 My Dinner with Andre
1997 The Designated Mourner Play
Written by
2004 Marie and Bruce Screenplay
The Fever Play
2009 Essays Book collection of essays, by Haymarket Books
2010 Tea Time Short
2015 Evening at the Talk House Play
Written by


Year Title Notes
1995 Charlie Rose TV series
1 episode
Showbiz Today TV series
1 episode
2001 As You Wish: The Story of The Princess Bride
E! True Hollywood Story TV series
1 episode
2005 Now TV series
2 episodes
Clueless: The Class of '95
2007 Strange Culture
Up Close with Carrie Keagan TV series
1 episode
2008 USIDent TV: Surveilling the Southland
The Windmill Movie
2009 Capitalism: A Love Story
Made in Hollywood TV series
1 episode
2010 MindFlux
2012 Up with Chris Hayes TV series
1 episode
2014 BoJack Horseman TV series
1 episode


Play Name 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; film directed by David Hare, 1998
The Threepenny Opera 2006
Grasses of a Thousand Colors 2008
Evening at the Talk House 2015

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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