PROFILE
Name:
John Cameron Mitchell
Birth Date:
April 21, 1963
Birth Place:
El Paso, Texas, USA
Nationality:
American
Famous for:
Hedwig and the Angry Inch' (2001)
BIOGRAPHY
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Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Background:

“I have seen so few films in which the sex felt really respected by the filmmaker. Hollywood too often shies away from it or makes adolescent jokes about it. Sex is only connected to the negative because people are scared of it.”

Breaking into the entertainment industry in the mid-1980s with gigs on a variety of television shows and small films, American actor, writer and director John Cameron Mitchell was shot to stardom with his spectacular work in the 2001 film “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which was adapted from his successful Off-Broadway production of the same name. The movie, in which Mitchell served as director, co-writer (with Stephen Trask) and actor, won extensive acclaim, including two Sundance Film Festival Awards, a Gotham Award, three Deauville Film Festival Awards, a Berlin International Film Festival Award and a Stockholm Film Festival Award. Mitchell took home a National Board of Review award and an Online Film Critics Society Award for his direction, and a Florida Film Critics Circle Award, an Online Film Critics Society Award, a L.A. Outfest Award, a Seattle International Film Festival Award and a Gijón International Film Festival Award for his impressive portrayal of Hedwig. Five years later, he doubled his prominence with the Cannes-premiered “Shortbus” (2006), which won the Zurich Film Festival Award, the Gijón International Film Festival Award and the Athens International Film Festival Award. Mitchell did not act in the film. Commenting about it, he said, “No I’m not really interested in directing myself anymore because there are just too many things to do. We’ve been working with the actors for a year and a half off and on. We’re getting comfortable and working on the script, which we will continue to do up until shooting.”

One of People Magazine's “Breakthrough Stars of 2001,” Mitchell is openly gay, a truth he revealed to his family and friends in 1985. He officially announced his sexual orientation in a 1992 New York Time’s profile. Mitchell's subsequent writing has worked with gender and sexuality.

Mitchell, who was named one of John Willis' Screen World's “12 Promising New Actors of 1991,” is romantically linked to Jack Steeb. He referred to his partner in his acceptance speech at Sundance. He currently lives in New York City and is a passionate film fan. “I’m a film buff so I see a lot of movies. I don’t see many Hollywood movies because they seem to get worse and worse. I often have to be forced to see a major studio film. The art wing of the Hollywood studios still put out good films like ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.’” John Cameron Mitchell


Army Brat

Childhood and Family:

John Cameron Mitchell was born on April 21, 1963, in El Paso, Texas. His father, John Henderson Mitchell, is a retired U.S. Army Major General, and his mother, Joan Mitchell, is from Scotland and immigrated to the United States as a young schoolteacher. Because of his father's occupation, John had to move quite often as a child and was raised in army bases in the U.S., Scotland and Germany. He was generally educated at Catholic schools and later studied theater at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. John's younger brother, Colin Mitchell, is also an actor and writer.


Shortbus

Career:

Raised as an “army brat”, John Cameron Mitchell found his nomadic upbringing perfect training for a career in show business. Relocating frequently and often the new kid in school, he developed an ability to adapt to various situations. When he was 11, Mitchell had his first taste of the stage when he landed the role of the Virgin Mary in a Nativity musical production at a Scottish Benedictine boy’s boarding school. His first professional gig arrived 11 years later when he was cast as Huck Finn in a Chicago production of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (1985) at the Goodman Theater. During that same period, he also acted in industrial films, such as “Just Along for the Ride” and “My Father's Son.”

Mitchell soon progressed to Broadway when he was recruited as an understudy for Daniel H. Jenkins in the leading role in the 1985 musical “Big River,” which was based on Mark Twain's “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The next year, he found himself in the feature film “Band of the Hand,” opposite Stephen Lang, Michael Carmine and Lauren Holly, and “One More Saturday Night,” starring Tom Davis. He was also seen on TV with “The Roommate,” a PBS “American Playhouse” production. The rest of the 1980s found the actor in a series of projects, including playing Tommi Lowberg on the Disney Channel historical movie “A Friendship in Vienna” (1988) and starring opposite Viveca Lindfors as a Polish violinist in the forgettable drama film “Misplaced” (1989).

In 1990, Mitchell appeared in the original cast of John Guare's “Six Degrees of Separation” off and on Broadway, had an important role on the “American Playhouse” presentation and costarred in the film “Book of Love.” Next, he gave a fine turn as the mysterious Dickon on a Broadway musical adaptation of “The Secret Garden” (1991), from which he was nominated for a Drama Desk, and went on to earn notice with his outstanding portrayal of the young Ned Weeks in the Larry Kramer autobiographical drama “The Destiny of Me” (1992), a sequel to “The Normal Heart.” For his effort, he was handed a Village Voice Obie Award and a Drama Desk nomination. In the acclaimed Off-Broadway “Hello Again” (1994), Michael John LaChiusa's musical adaptation of “La Ronde,” Mitchell again received a Drama Desk nomination for playing one of the lovers.

In 1996, Mitchell, who had appeared as a guest in a series of shows like “The Twilight Zone” (1986), “Head of the Class” (1987), “MacGyver” (1987), “Class of '96” (1993) and “Law and Order” (1995), finally landed a regular role in the 1996 Fox sitcom “Party Girl,” in which he was cast as the gay friend of the title character. Unfortunately for Mitchell, the show was canceled after four episodes. Also in 1996, he played the small role of an aspiring actor in the Spike Lee directed comedy/drama “Girl 6.” He acted in the following year's drama film, “David Searching” and directed the Drama Dept. production of “Kingdom of Earth” that same year.

Still in 1997, Mitchell co-wrote, with composer Stephen Trask whom he met on a 1994 airplane flight, the stage musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” which Mitchell also starred in. When it opened in 1997, no one could have predicted how successful the show would become. In its re-staging the following year, “Hedwig” earned many positive reviews. He was handed an OBIE, a New York Magazine, a Drama League, as well as an Outer Critics Circle for Outstanding Off-Broadway Musical. Led by the victory, Mitchell then developed the material into a feature film at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab and premiered the film version at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” was well-received by both audiences and critics and picked up the Audience Award as well as the directing Award for Mitchell. The movie went on to collect a number of accolades and honors, including a Berlin International Film Festival and a Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival award in the category of Best Feature Film, a Open Palm from the Gotham, a CinéLive Award, a Critics Award and a Grand Special Prize from the Deauville Film Festival. It also received a Stockholm Film Festival for Honorable Mention. Mitchell's performance gained praise too and he was awarded a Florida Film Critics Circle for Newcomer of the Year, an Online Film Critics Society Best Breakthrough Performance, a L.A. Outfest for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, a Seattle International Film Festival and a Gijón International Film Festival for Best Actor. He also nabbed a National Board of Review for Best Debut Director and a Best Breakthrough Filmmaker honor from the 2002 Online Film Critics Society.

“Jonathan auditioned for my film ‘Shortbus,’ which is the one that’s sexually oriented. He sent in an audition tape with parts of ‘Tarnation’ on it and it was quite stunning. I kept up with him and encouraged him to keep working on it and he submitted it to the MIX Festival which is headed by a friend of mine named Stephen Winter. I alerted Stephen about the movie, then he became a producer and they brought me on as executive producer to help edit, advise and godfather it. Then I brought in Gus Van Sant as producer.” John Cameron Mitchell

Already successful as a writer, director and actor, Mitchell tried his hand in producing with the 2003 documentary/biography “Tarnation,” which was helmed and written by Jonathan Caouette. There, he served as executive producer. After directing the Scissor Sisters video of “Filthy/Gorgeous,” which was banned from American MTV due to its explicit sexual content, and Bright Eyes' “First Day of My Life,” Mitchell wrote and directed his next film, “Shortbus” (2006). Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the drama/romance has become a worldwide hit and took home several awards, such as the Zurich Film Festival for Best New Feature Film, a Gijón International Film Festival for Best Screenplay-Motion Picture and the Athens International Film Festival award.


Awards:

  • Zurich Film Festival: Golden Eye, Best New Feature Film, “Shortbus,” 2006

  • Athens International Film Festival: Audience Award, Dramatic, “Shortbus,” 2006

  • Gijón International Film Festival: Best Screenplay-Motion Picture, “Shortbus,” 2006

  • Florida Film Critics Circle: Newcomer of the Year, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2002

  • Online Film Critics Society: Best Breakthrough Filmmaker, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2002

  • Online Film Critics Society: Best Breakthrough Performance, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2002

  • Glitter: Best Feature voted by U.S/International Gay Film Festivals and U.S. Gay Press, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2002

  • L.A. Outfest: Screen Idol Award, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2002

  • Seattle International Film Festival: Golden Space Needle Award, Best Actor, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Stockholm Film Festival: Honorable Mention, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Sundance Film Festival: Audience Award-Dramatic, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Sundance Film Festival: Directing Award-Dramatic, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Provincetown International Film Festival: Audience Award, Best Feature, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • San Francisco International Film Festival: Audience Award, Best Narrative Feature, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival: Best First Feature, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association: New Generation, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Gotham: Open Palm Award, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Montréal Comedy Festival 'Just for Laughs': Jury Award, Special Jury Prize, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Deauville Film Festival: CinéLive Award, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Deauville Film Festival: Critics Award, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Deauville Film Festival: Grand Special Prize, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Gijón International Film Festival: Best Actor-Motion Picture, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival: a GLIFF Award, Best Feature, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Teddy, Best Feature Film, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 2001

  • National Board of Review: Best Debut Director, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” 1999

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