Wallace Shawn, who played Vizzini in The Princess Bride, Dr. John Sturgis in Young Sheldon and was the voice of Rex the dinosaur in the Toy Story series among a bunch of other iconic roles, came out to Steel City Con.
Shawn had a Q&A panel where he revealed that he considers himself to be a writer first and then an actor.
“In case you didn’t know I do have a kind of double life. I actually have been a writer for years. And I’ve had the honor of being, in a way, as disliked as a writer as I’ve been liked as an actor. So I have had these two lives really, I’ve written plays and and some essays, but mainly plays for about 50 years,” said Shawn. “That’s how I generally think of myself… I do think I’m that writer whom I have know all my life and then in my mind acting is a kind of strange thing that I fell into by accident.”
Shawn said he was 35 when he was first started acting and said it was never his dream to be an actor, but “then so history unfolded.”
Marie and Bruce
One audience member brought up an early play of Shawn’s titled Marie and Bruce. This play portrays emotional and sexual conflicts in seemingly mundane situations which led critics to question the piece’s value. The story focuses on the relationship between an unlikely couple and their struggle when one decides to leave the other.
“In my acting career and as a person, I think it’s just the way I was brought up or maybe its genetic, I have no idea, I basically am agreeable and pleasant. I mean, you may disagree, but I basically am agreeable in my own mind and polite and harmless in a way. But inside, rightly or wrongly, I’m a very angry and have a somewhat explosive personality inside that comes out in my writing. And so my plays are actually upsetting to a lot of people,” said Shawn. “Most of them have been somewhat political and certainly have even dealt with sex and some of the rougher aspects of human behavior.”
Writing himself into his work
“I don’t understand myself or know myself very well. My self knowledge level is in the basement and I don’t quite know what I look like or what I seem like and I’ve never thought I could really do that. I mean you know Woody Allen wrote many parts that he then play but I just don’t know,” said Shawn. “I’ve acted in many of my own plays, but always because I couldn’t find anybody else. It’s never been because I thought I was the best possible person. I have sometimes thought ‘well, I’m the second best person to play the part that I wrote and the person I really want, won’t do it. So I’ll do it.'”
Shawn also spoke about making Toy Story and how 1995’s Just Like Dad is probably his favorite Disney project that he’s worked on. (I haven’t found it on Disney+ yet, but fingers crossed that it comes soon!)
He even admitted that he’d love to continue writing if the fates allow.
“I always have taken years to write each thing that I done. And you know history will tell but I would love to write more,” concluded Shawn.
When Beth “grows up” she wants to see her creations appear on the screen and stage. In her free time, Beth blogs about her love of craft beer and writes screenplays. She received her bachelors in journalism from Youngstown State and received her masters in communication from The University of Akron. She is honored to be a part of the FanFest family.