John Cameron Mitchell

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John Cameron Mitchell

In May 2006
Born(1963-04-21) April 21, 1963 (age 49)
El Paso, Texas, United States
ResidenceNew York City
Years active1983–present
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John Cameron Mitchell

In May 2006
Born(1963-04-21) April 21, 1963 (age 49)
El Paso, Texas, United States
ResidenceNew York City
Years active1983–present

John Cameron Mitchell (born April 21, 1963) is an American writer, actor, and director. He is best known for his motion pictures Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus and Rabbit Hole.


Early life

Mitchell was born in El Paso, Texas.[1] The son of a retired U.S. Army Major General, he grew up on army bases in the U.S., Germany, and Scotland, and generally attended Catholic schools including St. Xavier High School (Junction City, Kansas) and St. Pius X High School (Albuquerque) from which he graduated in 1981. His mother is from Glasgow, Scotland and emigrated to the United States as a young schoolteacher.[2] His brother Colin is also an actor, writer, and filmmaker.[3]

Mitchell's first stage role was the Virgin Mary in a Nativity musical staged at a Scottish Benedictine boys boarding school when he was 11 years old. He studied theater at Northwestern University from 1981 to 1985.[citation needed]


Mitchell's first professional stage role was Huckleberry Finn in a 1985 Organic Theater adaptation at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.[4] Mitchell's first New York acting role was Huck Finn in the Broadway musical Big River (1985). He originated the role of Dickon on Broadway in The Secret Garden, and appeared in the original cast of the Off Broadway musical Hello Again. He received Drama Desk nominations for both roles, and can be heard on the original cast recordings for each.[2] (His rendition of the original demo version of "Giants in the Sky" can be heard as a bonus track on the 2007 remastered release of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.) He appeared in the original cast of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation (off- and on Broadway) and starred in Larry Kramer's Off Broadway sequel to The Normal Heart, The Destiny of Me, for which he received a Village Voice Obie Award[5] and a Drama Desk nomination.[6]

Mitchell's early television work includes guest-starring roles in MacGyver, Head of the Class, Law & Order, The New Twilight Zone, Freddy's Nightmares, The Equalizer, Our House, Dreamer of Oz, The Stepford Children, and the ABC Afterschool Special "A Desperate Exit" (his single line: "He's dead. Don't you get it? He killed himself"). He was a regular cast member on the 1997 Fox sitcom Party Girl, and was the long-running voice for "Sydney", an animated kangaroo that appeared in commercials for Dunkaroos.[7]

His first film role was in an improvised drunk-driving educational film called Just Along for the Ride (1983), in which he was killed on Halloween while wearing a tutu.[citation needed] This was followed by the lead role in My Father's Son: The Legacy of Alcoholism (1984) and his first feature film role as Drunk Teen ("Hey, dudes, where's the brewskies?") in One More Saturday Night (1986). Starring and co-starring film roles include a homicidal new-waver in Band of the Hand (1986), a Polish immigrant violinist in Misplaced (1990), and a teen Lothario poet in Book of Love (1990). Mitchell had a single line ("Delivery!") in Spike Lee's Girl Six (1996) as a man auditioning for a pornographic film.[7][8]

Mitchell is a founding member of the Drama Department Theater Company, for which he adapted and directed Tennessee Williams' Kingdom of Earth starring Cynthia Nixon and Peter Sarsgaard.[9]

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

In 1998, Mitchell wrote (along with composer Stephen Trask) and starred in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, an Obie Award-winning Off Broadway musical about an East German transgender rock musician chasing after an ex-lover who plagiarized her songs.[2] Three years later, he directed and starred in the feature film version of the play for which he won Best Director at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. His performance was nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Both the play and the film were critical hits and have spawned cult followings around the world.[10][11]


After the success of Hedwig, Mitchell expressed an interest in writing, directing and producing a film that incorporated explicit sex in a naturalistic and thoughtful way, without using "stars".[1] After three years of talent searches, improv workshops and production, Shortbus premiered in May 2006 at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. The film garnered many awards,[12] at venues such as the Athens, Gijón and Zurich International Film Festivals.

Rabbit Hole

He directed the 2010 film Rabbit Hole, starring Nicole Kidman (in an Oscar-nominated performance) and Aaron Eckhart, adapted from David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. The film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival.

Other work

Mitchell was the executive producer of the 2004 film Tarnation, a documentary about the life of Jonathan Caouette whom he met when the latter auditioned for Shortbus.[13] Tarnation won 2004 Best Documentary from the National Society of Film Critics, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Gotham Awards. In 2005, Mitchell directed music videos for Bright Eyes' "First Day of My Life" and the Scissor Sisters' "Filthy/Gorgeous,"[14] the latter of which was banned from MTV Europe for its explicitly sexual content.[15] Mitchell has appeared as a pundit on Politically Incorrect and various VH1 and Independent Film Channel programs. He introduced films on a show called Escape From Hollywood on IFC for two years. Recently he's written and directed a number of short films and commercials for Dior including Lady Grey London and L.A.dy Dior both starring Marion Cotillard and Dior Homme Sport starring Jude Law.

Together with Shortbus producer Howard Gertler, he is producing an animated feature The Ruined Cast written and directed by graphic novelist Dash Shaw, and developing for the screen Neil Gaiman's short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties.[16]

Personal life

In 1985, Mitchell came out as gay to his family and friends.[2] He came out publicly in a New York Times profile in 1992.[4] His subsequent writing has often explored sexuality and gender. He is a Radical Faerie, which was influential in Mitchell's making of Shortbus. [17] Along with Shortbus stars PJ DeBoy and Paul Dawson and performance artists Amber Martin and Angela Di Carlo, he is a co-founder and DJ of the long-running New York City monthly party "Mattachine".[18]

Mitchell lives in New York City.[19]


  1. ^ a b "John Cameron Mitchel". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Mitchell, John Cameron (b. 1963)". 2005-05-05. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  3. ^ "Colin Mitchell". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  4. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (1992-11-04). "A Minimalist Actor Now Warms to Excess". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  5. ^ Berson, Misha (2001-08-03). "Man behind Hedwig captures her on film". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  6. ^ Parks, Louis B. (2001-08-02). "Give him an 'Inch,' and he'll take it". The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  7. ^ a b "John Cameron Mitchell". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  8. ^ "John Cameron Mitchell Full Bio". Retrieved 2007-10-29. [dead link]
  9. ^ Brantley, Ben (1996-06-96). "Redeeming A Williams Washout". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-2-18. 
  10. ^ Blackwelder, Rob (2001-06-21). "'Hedwig'-ing Out". Spliced Wire. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  11. ^ "John Cameron Mitchell News". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  12. ^ "Awards for Shortbus (2006)". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  13. ^ "Tarnation (2004)". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  14. ^ "Other works for John Cameron Mitchell". Retrieved 2007-05-27. 
  15. ^ Durbin, Jonathan.What Is a Scissor Sister? PAPER Magazine. April 4, 2005.
  16. ^ John Cameron Mitchell Talks Animated ‘The Ruined Cast’ & Upcoming Neil Gaiman Adaptation.[1] indieWIRE. December 10, 2010.
  17. ^ Dubowski, Sandi (Fall 2006), "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret", Filmmaker,, retrieved 26 March 2010 
  18. ^ Murphy, Tim (Fall 2010), "Tinseltown Can Wait; the Village Cannot", New York Times,, retrieved 5 Jan 2012 
  19. ^ Epstein, Warren (2001-02-04). "Springs has surprisingly strong link to Sundance". The Gazette (Colorado Springs). Retrieved 2007-05-27. 

External links