Born: 10 February 1961
Birthplace: Omaha, Nebraska
Best known as: The Oscar-winning writer and director of the film Sideways
Alexander Payne is the director of quirky and darkly funny Hollywood films like Election, About Schmidt, and Sideways. He's been called "one of the current cinema's most cutting directors and satirists" by Rovi.com. Alexander Payne was raised in Nebraska and went to Stanford University, where he majored in history and Spanish and graduated in 1983. He then graduated from UCLA's film school in 1990. Six years later he directed Citizen Ruth, a dark satire starring Laura Dern as a wayward slacker whose out-of-wedlock pregnancy makes her the center of a public abortion battle. Payne moved from abortion to politics with Election, another sharp comedy starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. Released in 1999, it earned him an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay. His 2003 drama About Schmidt followed a grizzled Jack Nicholson on a road trip and included a memorable nude hot tub scene by Kathy Bates. Payne really broke out with Sideways, the goofy 2004 comedy-drama about two middle-aged friends (Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church) on a trip to wine country in central California. The film was a surprise hit and Payne won an Academy Award for his screenplay. In 2011, Alexander Payne directed George Clooney in The Descendants, an emotional drama set in Hawaii. Payne was Oscar-nominated again as best director for Nebraska, his 2013 drama starring Bruce Dern as an old man on a last road trip home.
Alexander Payne married actress Sandra Oh in 2003, and she co-starred in Sideways. They divorced in 2006… Alexander Payne’s family ran a Greek restaurant in Omaha, and they “changed the family name from Papadopoulos,” according to a 2005 story by the BBC News…
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