Some years ago, filmmakers Gene Gallerano and David Holmes took acting classes at New York's HB Studios under the tutelage of actor Austin Pendleton. The two were cast in a play by Pendleton that opened up their theatrical horizons. Impressed with the uninhibited art and style Pendleton shared with the group they asked him if they could catch his teaching-style on film.
Their journey of documenting Pendleton in action spanned over a period of seven years. Over two hundred hours of film footage incorporating interviews with veterans of the stage and screen are to their credit. Each interviewed guest shares personal take-aways from their involvement with Pendleton's artistic integrity. He's known by many as a master craftsman.
Now in his mid-seventies, the reason Pendleton is so admired is because he is an original in today's celebrity-obsessed world according to Gallerano and Holmes. They describe him as quirky and luminary. He is true to himself in spite of his struggles both as an artist and personally to overcome stuttering, rejection, doubt, and negative career reviews. Pendleton has even been blacklisted. The will to work through his struggles allows him to learn from his mistakes and to never give up on his dreams.
The late Philip Seymour Hoffman once said, "Everybody knows Austin, whether they met him or not - he makes the six degrees of separation thing kind of look ridiculous...his life is an anecdote; it's one amazing story."
Meryl Streep added, "There is no line between the man and his work." Olympia Dukakis recalls, "He just went wherever they let him play the great parts."
His portfolio is comprised of appearing in over two hundred movies ranging from A Beautiful Mind, My Cousin Vinny, to the The Muppet Movie. He is a recurring guest on television series such as Law and Order. He has appeared both ON and OFF-Broadway shows such as The Fiddler on the Roof, The Diary of Anne Frank, Grand Hotel, Educating Rita, Mother Courage & Her Children, etc. Pendleton recently directed the world premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis's Pulitzer Prize winning play Between Riverside and Crazy with the Atlantic theatre Company. At Classic Stage Company Pendleton ran the productions of Hamlet, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya and Ivanov. For several of his works he has been nominated and won several awards. Pendleton has also written three award-winning plays Orson's Shadow, Uncle Bob and Booth. To top if off he's written the libretto for the musical A Minister's Wife preformed at the Lincoln Center. His passion for excellence with his talent knows no boundaries.
Pendleton follows his dreams and goes where there's work. To date, he has not simply acted but has written plays, directed plays and taught scores of thespians both young and old. A memorable character with a heart. Pendleton says, "The life of an artist is never settled, the aspirations never complete, the journey never ending." He continues, "The next great part is always still around the corner."
This quintessential character isn't necessarily recognizable to the masses but he is one of the most influential artists in today's thespian world. His tutelage will never be forgotten for those students lucky enough to glean from his expertise. His sphere of influence will span beyond his years.
The documentary Starring Austin Pendleton from co-directors Gallerano and Holmes will enlighten your world and delight your soul as they honor one of the most interesting artists living today.