Podtalk: Actor Wallace Shawn Celebrates ‘Rifkin’s Festival’

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CHICAGO – The distinctive voice and presence of Wallace Shawn has been in the show business firmament for over 40 years. From his legacy film “My Dinner with Andre” through cultural icon in “The Princess Bride” to “Young Sheldon,” Wally Shawn has endured and prospered. He stars as the title character in “Rifkin’s Festival, opening January 28th, 2022.

Wallace Shawn is Mort Rifkin, a struggling novelist who used to be a film studies professor. Through his academia he met and married Sue (Gina Gershon), a movie publicist who saw potential in his literary pursuit. She is representing a hot young director at the famous San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain, and takes Mort along for the ride. The ex-professor doesn’t like modern cinema, and distracts himself by pursuing a local cardiologist (Elena Anaya) and creating dreams and fantasies from his film heroes.

Wallace Shawn and Gina Gershon in ‘Rifkin’s Festival’
Photo credit: MPI Media Group

Wallace Shawn’s story begins in New York City, where he was born the son of journalist Cecille Lyon and William Shawn, the longtime editor of the NEW YORKER magazine. After doing his undergrad at Harvard and post-grad work at Oxford, he eschewed his philosophy and political studies to translate a play for a friend. He also had a role in the play, and his future was determined.

He began as a playwright, and many of his notable titles have been staged on Broadway and elsewhere including “Aunt Dan and Lemon” and “The Designated Mourner.” His film actor debut was in Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” (1979) and his breakthrough film work came with “My Dinner with Andre” (1981). His status as character actor was solidified with “The Princess Bride” (1987), featuring his catchphrase, “Inconceivable!” Shawn has worked ever since, collaborating again with Allen in “Radio Days,” “Shadows and Fog,” “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” and most famously, “Melinda and Melinda.” And lest we forget his animation voiceover work in the Toy Story series as Rex, and his current role – among his many TV appearances – as Dr. John Sturgis in “Young Sheldon.”

In a Podtalk, Actor Wallace Shawn Talks to Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com about “Rifkin’s Festival” and working with the cast and Woody Allen …

The Trailer for “Rifkin’s Festival” …

”Rifkin’s Festival” opens in select theaters and through Video-On-Demand on January 28th, 2022. Featuring Wallace Shawn, Gina Gershon, Elena Anaya and Christoph Waltz. Written and directed by Woody Allen. Rated “PG-13”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor, Film Writer

© 2022 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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