John Cameron Mitchell

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John Cameron Mitchell
John Cameron Mitchell.jpg
Mitchell in October 2004
Born (1963-04-21) April 21, 1963 (age 54)
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Residence New York City, New York
Occupation Actor, screenwriter, film director
Years active 1983–present

John Cameron Mitchell (born April 21, 1963) is an American actor, writer and director, best known for originating the title role in the musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and reprising it in the 2001 film adaptation directed by him, as well as for directing the films Shortbus (2006) and Rabbit Hole (2010).

Early years

Mitchell was born in El Paso, Texas. His father was a U.S. Army Major General, and Mitchell grew up on army bases in the U.S., Germany, and Scotland, attending Catholic schools, including St. Xavier High School (Junction City, Kansas) and St. Pius X High School (Albuquerque, New Mexico), graduating from the latter in 1981. His mother is a native of Glasgow, Scotland, who immigrated to the United States as a young schoolteacher.[1] His brother Colin is also an actor, writer, and filmmaker.

His 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.[2] His 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.[1]

He appeared in the original cast of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation (both off-Broadway and on Broadway), and starred in Larry Kramer's Off Broadway sequel to The Normal Heart, The Destiny of Me, for which he received an Obie Award[3] and a Drama Desk nomination.[4]

Mitchell's early television work includes guest-starring roles in Daybreak, MacGyver, Head of the Class, Law & Order, The New Twilight Zone, Freddy's Nightmares, The Equalizer, Our House, The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story, and The Stepford Children. He was a regular cast member on the 1996 Fox sitcom Party Girl, and was the long-running voice for "Sydney", an animated kangaroo that appeared in commercials for Dunk-a-roos cookies.[citation needed]

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. 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.[5]

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 rock musical about an East German rock musician chasing after an ex-lover who plagiarized her songs.[1]

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.[6][7]

The 2014 Broadway production of Hedwig starred Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall, was directed by Michael Mayer, and won four Tony Awards, including Best Actor in a Musical (Harris), Best Featured Actress in a Musical (Hall), and Best Revival of a Musical. Mitchell reprised his performance in the role of Hedwig on Broadway for a limited run in early 2015, opposite Lena Hall as Yitzhak. He received a 2015 Special Tony Award for his return to the role.[8]


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".[citation needed] 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,[citation needed] 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. Tarnation won 2004 Best Documentary from the National Society of Film Critics, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Gotham Awards.

He directed videos for Bright Eyes' "First Day of My Life" (featuring Secret Garden co-star Alison Fraser) and the Scissor Sisters' "Filthy/Gorgeous";[citation needed] the latter was banned from MTV Europe for its explicitly sexual content.[9] In 2012, Mitchell wrote and produced a narrative short film for Sigur Ros entitled "Seraph", directed by animator Dash Shaw (link to film:[10]).

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. He wrote 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. In 2013, he wrote and directed a fashion video for Agent Provocateur entitled "Insurrection".[11] He appeared as a recurring character, e-book editor David Pressler-Goings, on the 2013 and 2014 seasons of HBO series Girls, and as Andy Warhol in the 2016 season of HBO's Vinyl. Mitchell appeared in the 2016 documentary Danny Says alongside Danny Fields, Alice Cooper & Iggy Pop. He has appeared as a character based on Milo Yiannopoulos on CBC All Access's The Good Fight opposite Christine Baranski and appears as the character of Egon in Season 4 of Amazon Studios' Mozart in the Jungle opposite Gael Garcia Bernal. His new film How to Talk to Girls at Parties, a screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman's punk-era short story of the same title starring Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp and Nicole Kidman will be released by A24 in Spring 20018.[12]

In 2016 Mitchell appeared on Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff's tribute album to late musician David Bowie, Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff: Strung Out In Heaven (A David Bowie Tribute). He contributed vocals to English and German covers of Bowie's song, Heroes.[13]

Personal life

In 1985, Mitchell came out as gay to his family and friends.[1] He came out publicly in a New York Times profile in 1992.[2] His subsequent writing has often explored sexuality and gender. He is a Radical Faerie, which was influential in Mitchell's making of Shortbus.[14] 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".[15]

Mitchell lives in New York City.[16]


As director

Year Title Notes
2001 Hedwig and the Angry Inch
2006 Shortbus
2010 Rabbit Hole
2011 Lady Grey London Short film
2011 L.A.dy Dior Short film
2013 Nurse Jackie Episode: "Luck of the Drawing"
2013 Control Yourself. Short film
2015 Happyish Unaired Pilot
2017 How to Talk to Girls at Parties

As actor

Year Title Roles Notes
1984 American Playhouse Calvin Fitch Episode: "The Roommate"
1986 The Equalizer Ed Donahue Episode: "Unpunished Crimes"
1986 Band of the Hand J.L.
1986 The Twilight Zone Tom Episode: "A Day in Beaumont/The Last Defender of Camelot" (segment "The Last Defender of Camelot")
1986 One More Saturday Night Teenager #2
1986 ABC Afterschool Specials Friend at bus stop Episode: "A Desperate Exit"
1987 The Stepford Children Kenny TV film
1987 MacGyver Aaron Episode: "Hell Week"
1987-1990 Head of the Class Manfred Episodes: "That'll Be the Day" and "From Hair to Eternity: Part 2"
1988 Higher Education Student #1 (as John Mitchell)
1988 Our House Willie Gillis Episode: "Out of Step"
1988 A Friendship in Vienna Tommi Lowberg TV Film
1988 Freddy's Nightmares: A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Series Bryan Ross Episode: "It's a Miserable Life"
1989 No Holds Barred Man in Audience (uncredited)
1989 Misplaced Jacek
1990 Book of Love Floyd
1990 The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story Albert the Reporter TV Film
1990 Teach 109 1st Android TV Short
1990 Daybreak Lennie TV Film
1993 Class of '96 Horace Episode: "See You in September"
1993 Law & Order Eddie Episode: "Pride"
1995 Girl 6 Rob
1996 Party Girl Derrick 4 episodes
1996 David Searching Man with Fruit
1997 Nothing Sacred Matt Evans Episode: "Speaking in Tongues"
1999 I Remember Joe Short film
2001 Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hedwig
2006 Shortbus Sextra (uncredited)
2013-2014 Girls David Pressler-Goings 5 episodes
2016 Vinyl Andy Warhol 3 episodes
2016 My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea Brent Daniels (voice)
2017 The Good Fight Felix Staples Episode: "Social Media and Its Discontents"


  1. ^ a b c d "John Cameron Mitchell profile". May 5, 2005. Archived from the original on April 18, 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Weber, Bruce (November 4, 1992). "A Minimalist Actor Now Warms to Excess". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2009. 
  3. ^ Berson, Misha (August 3, 2001). "Man behind Hedwig captures her on film". The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 27, 2007. 
  4. ^ Parks, Louis B. (August 2, 2001). "Give him an 'Inch,' and he'll take it". The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 27, 2007. 
  5. ^ Brantley, Ben (June 26, 1996). "Redeeming A Williams Washout". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2012. 
  6. ^ Blackwelder, Rob (June 21, 2001). "'Hedwig'-ing Out". Spliced Wire. Archived from the original on March 30, 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2007. 
  7. ^ "John Cameron Mitchell News". Retrieved May 27, 2007. 
  8. ^ Mark Maron interview with Mitchell here.
  9. ^ Durbin, Jonathan.What Is a Scissor Sister? PAPER Magazine. April 4, 2005.
  10. ^ SERAPH – YouTube
  11. ^ Agent Provocateur Models Rebel, Strip Down to Lingerie in Protest. [1] AdRants. September 16, 2013.
  12. ^ John Cameron Mitchell Talks Animated 'The Ruined Cast' & Upcoming Neil Gaiman Adaptation.[2] Archived December 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. indieWIRE. December 10, 2010.
  13. ^ "Here Is Amanda Palmer's David Bowie Memorial Cover EP, Feat. John Cameron Mitchell and Anna Calvi". Flavorwire. 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2016-05-22. 
  14. ^ Dubowski, Sandi (Fall 2006), "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret", Filmmaker, Archived from the original on March 4, 2012, retrieved March 26, 2010 
  15. ^ Murphy, Tim (Fall 2010), "Tinseltown Can Wait; the Village Cannot", New York Times, retrieved January 5, 2012 
  16. ^ Epstein, Warren (February 4, 2001). "Springs has surprisingly strong link to Sundance". The Gazette. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010. Retrieved May 27, 2007. 

External links

  • John Cameron Mitchell on IMDb
  • John Cameron Mitchell at the Internet Broadway Database
  • John Cameron Mitchell at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
  • Mitchell Live at Amoeba Music "Origin of Love"
  • Mitchell's video for Bright Eyes' "First Day of My Life"
  • BBC Collective Shortbus feature including John Cameron Mitchell video interview
  • John Cameron Mitchell interview at (March 2007)
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