Alexander Payne has written and directed a number of award-winning films throughout his career, two of which earned him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He won the Oscar in this category for his movie The Descendants at the award ceremony’s 84th Annual show, and previously, in 2005, he won it for his movie Sideways, which had also been nominated in several more categories. The filmmaker has directed some of his big screen productions in his home state of Nebraska, and he has said that he did that because he had always wanted to put the people from the area he grew up in on film. His family has been living in the state since 1913, the year his grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Greece, so he has a certain affection for it as one of its natives.
The first movie production Alexander Payne completed was when he was a student at UCLA, and after it caused such a positive stir on campus, it was only a month later that he was offered a position at Universal as a writer and director. The film, which was a dark comedy, was called The Passion of Martin, and in addition to debuting at UCLA, it was also shown at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival. After graduating from the university, he later went on to direct his first major film called Citizen Ruth. Many of the other movies that he has worked on have won Golden Globe Awards, one being About Schmidt, starring veteran actor Jack Nicholson. He has stated that he is most interested in the kinds of stories that feature people who are flawed, and situations that are not always so clear, because he doesn’t think that every story has to have a neat ending.
Alexander Payne was raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and he attended Lewis and Clark High School until it was destroyed by a tornado in 1975, causing him to have to enroll at Creighton Preparatory School. After high school, he went to Stanford University, where he majored in History and Spanish. He earned his Master of Fine Arts degree at UCLA.