Utne Blogs > Literature

UtneCast: Wallace Shawn and the Revolution

Wallace ShawnWallace Shawn is perhaps best known for his roles in commercial blockbuster films like The Princess Bride (where he played the conniving Vizzini) or the Toy Story movies (where he’s the voice of Rex the dinosaur). The more refined among you may know him from Woody Allen’s Manhattan or the film My Dinner With Andre.

Shawn is also a playwright and an essayist. His essays—all of them—are collected in a book published last year by Haymarket Books and called, rather succinctly: Essays. The late historian Howard Zinn called the book “deceptively simple, fiercely honest … and provocative.” Shawn is a radical, and his essays are blunt critiques of class and power. I talked to him about his essays and the evolution of his politics.

Listen now:
Wallace Shawn and the Revolution
(15:33)

Or download the podcast at iTunes or the UtneCast blog.

Image by Jared Rodriguez.

jeffrey turnbull
7/22/2010 5:32:17 PM

Begging pardon for my sometimes hermitic life choices, but I'd not heard of Wallace Shawn until now, and have yet to read any of his soul-droppings, but in response to this interview my own soul felt the warm pleasure of meeting almost-kin. (We might be full kin had I been born more privileged, or he less so.) In my attempts to hone an individual life in alignment with timeless universal and/or 'spiritual' verities, I am partially concerned (but usually in denial of) the fact of my mental/emotional dualistic predilections---i.e., my preference to believe in the 'rightness' of the simple & humble, the earth- and nature-lovers, the poets, farmers, peace-makers, dwellers of forest & mountain, pilgrims...while also assuming I have valid reason to resent the complacent, proud, arrogant wealthy 'elite.' However, such attitude surely prevents my being a true lover of all! Yet I receive from his words an affirmaton of my own dualistic/judgmental proclivities and values, i.e., his words affirm my sense that there IS something more universally appropriate about choosing to be aware of the effects which my life choices spontaneously impose on all other lives---that there IS something deeply valid in choosing to be a more compassionate, sensitive, egalitarian, frugal denizen of the realm of life. I feel there is an added weight of significance to this position when supported by any person who was raised in privilege themself, as were Gautama Buddha, Tolstoy, Francesco Bernardone