American actor-turned-filmmaker Mitchell Lichtenstein is known for his performances in Robert Altman's “Streamers” (1983) and Ang Lee's “The Wedding Banquet” (1993). He won a Venice Film Festival Award for the first film and an Independent Spirit nomination for the latter. Since the early 2000s, the son of the late painter Roy Lichtenstein has focused his attention on writing and directing. His motion picture directorial debut, “Teeth” (2007), which he also wrote and produced, was well received at the Sundance Film Festival where he picked up a Grand Jury Prize nomination and star Jess Weixler won a Special Jury Prize honor. He stated, “It's about a young women who discovers that she is anatomically unique and that happens when her boyfriend gets violent with her and is 'punished' for it.”
His second film, “Happy Tears,” was released in 2009.
Son of an Artist
Childhood and Family:
Mitchell Wilson Lichtenstein was born on March 10, 1956. He is the son of painter and sculptor Roy Lichtenstein (born in 1923, died in 1997). His father, who pioneered the 'pop art' movement, was awarded the 1995 American National Medal of the Arts by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington, DC.
The Wedding Banquet
Mitchell Lichtenstein kicked off his film career in 1983 when he landed a supporting role in “The Lords of Discipline,” which starred David Keith. Later that same year, he received additional attention for playing Richie in the Toronto Film Festival premiered “Streamers.” Under the direction of Robert Altman, he took home a Venice Film Festival award for Best Actor.
After supporting Donald Sutherland, Jack Warden and Sean Penn in the 1984 comedy “Crackers,” helmed by Louis Malle, Lichtenstein turned his attention toward television when he appeared in episodes of “Miami Vice” (1984), “The Equalizer” (1987) and “Cheers” (1993). He made his TV movie debut in the drama “Blue Bayou” (1990) and revisited the large screen when Ang Lee cast him as Simon, a gay Chinese man living in America who is forced to marry, in “The Wedding Banquet,” a movie which received Best Foreign Language Film nominations at the Oscars and Golden Globes. For his good acting job, Lichtenstein was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in the category of Best Male Lead.
Lichtenstein next appeared in two episodes of “Law & Order” and teamed up with Tom Gilroy and Margaret Welsh in “Ratchet” (1996), a thriller written and directed by John Johnson. He went on to make a guest appearance in a 1998 episode of “Homicide: Life on the Street,” where he portrayed Adam. He closed out the decade with a bit part in Joel Schumacher's “Flawless” (1999), which starred Robert De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Lichtenstein executive produced the 22-minute short “Patriotic” (2000) and returned to acting two years later with the supporting role of Hamilton Albatross in the comedy short “Twin Set” (2002), which marked Lichtenstein's last onscreen appearance to date. After the performance, he emerged as a filmmaker.
In 2004, Lichtenstein wrote, directed and produced a short called “Resurrection.” He made an auspicious comeback three years later with the movie “Teeth,” a black comedy and horror film. Starring Jess Weixler, John Hensley and Josh Pais, the film was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize-Drama at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and Weixler earned a Special Jury Prize-Dramatic for his performance. It also won a Special Jury Prize at the 2008 Gérardmer Film Festival.
Lichtenstein's next attempt, “Happy Tears,” a drama he directed and scripted, was released in 2009 and starred Demi Moore, Parker Posey, Rip Torn and Ellen Barkin.
Gérardmer Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, “Teeth,” 2008
Venice Film Festival: Best Actor, “Streamers,” 1983