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BIOGRAPHY

JOHN SAYLES

John Sayles  Writer | Actor | Director

Date of Birth 28 September 1950, Schenectady, New York, USA
Birth Name John Thomas Sayles
Height 6' 4" (1.93 m)


A bright child, John Sayles began reading novels before age 9. A Williams grad in 1972, he shunned a corporate career to work various blue-collar jobs, moving to east Boston to take a factory job. He wrote stories and submitted them to various magazines, and the Atlantic Monthly gave him the idea of publishing them in a novel--thus "Pride of the Bimbos" (1975) was born.

In the late 1970s he worked for renowned low-budget producer Roger Corman as a screenwriter. He saved much of the money he earned from that job, got some friends together and made Return of the Secaucus Seven (1979) in 25 days. Altough it was a hit, he had trouble obtaining financing for the films he wanted to make because he would not give up his right of final cut. Baby It's You (1983) was Sayles' only film made under studio control.

In 1983 the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship granted him a tax-free income of $32,000 a year for 5 years. That stipend and money he earned for writing such films as The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1983) and Breaking In (1989) enabled him to make the kinds of films he wanted to make. Lone Star (1996) placed Sayles in the ranks of top American filmmakers. In it and his other films, a broadly appealing social consciousness emerges, showing Sayles to be concerned with what's going on with regional cultures, national values and what living in the US is like today. Sayles and Maggie Renzi, whom he met during college, have lived together since the 1970s, splitting their time between a Hoboken, NJ, house and a farm in upstate New York. They have no plans to marry.


Frequently casts Mary McDonnell, Chris Cooper, Angela Bassett, Tom Wright, Gordon Clapp, Joe Morton, Vincent Spano and David Strathairn.
Towering height and slender frame

Drafted in 1968, but rejected by the United States Army because of missing vertebra.
His films are often more based on character than plot.
Was classmates at Williams College with actor David Strathairn, whom Sayles regularly casts in his films.
Did uncredited rewrites for Apollo 13 (1995) and Mimic (1997).
While staying in Greenville, Alabama, during the Honeydripper (2007) shoot, Maggie Renzi and Sayles called in a contribution during the fund drive for the National Public Radio affiliate WUAL-FM in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
In his hometown of Schenectady, New York, there is the Sayles School of Fine Arts Black Box Theatre at the high school.
In the 2008 Empire Magazine movie poll, Sayles listed his ten favorite films as: Yojimbo (1961), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Two Women (1960), The Organizer (1963), The Spirit of the Beehive (1973), Seven Samurai (1954), Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Raging Bull (1980), The Wages of Fear (1953), Port of Shadows (1938).
Has English and Irish ancestry.
Speaks Spanish fluently.
In the Philippines filming Amigo. [June 2010]
In Greenville, Alabama, with partner Maggie Renzi, filming Honeydripper (starring Danny Glover) [September 2006]
Directed one Oscar nominated performance: Mary McDonnell in Passion Fish (1992).
Sayles is a great admirer of Akira Kurosawa and borrowed the basic plot of "Battle beyond the Stars" from "The Seven Samurai.".
In an AFI poll, he chose Akira Kurosawa's "Redbeard" as his favorite film.