John Cameron Mitchell



Actor and Director

b. April 21, 1963, El Paso, Texas

“Rock and roll and theatre and drag are all the same thing. They’re ways to remind yourself that you’re not alone.”

John Cameron Mitchell is best known for writing, directing and starring in the cult classic film “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

While the story of Hedwig is not autobiographical, the sexually ambiguous character—the lead singer in a fictional rock band—does share some traits with her creator. Like Hedwig, who is from East Germany and spent her youth craving the freedom of the West, Mitchell used to visit his military father in Berlin and became haunted by the Berlin wall. Hedwig, like Mitchell, is a performer with an insatiable passion for the stage. Both are perennial outsiders making their own way—idealists who transcend labels. Hedwig confounds male and female identities and Mitchell is an out gay man who believes gays are on the verge of selling out as they assimilate into society. Hedwig and Mitchell teach us to distrust appearances because true character comes from the inside out.

In 2008 Mitchell established a New York nightclub called Mattachine. It was located at Julius, the nation’s oldest known gay bar. Mattachine was an homage to activists who convened at Julius in 1966 to hold a “sip-in” protest of the State Liquor Authority’s regulation prohibiting bartenders from serving homosexuals.

In 1998 Mitchell’s rock musical, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” debuted Off-Broadway and won an Obie Award. Mitchell played the lead role for seven shows a week. In 2001 he directed and starred in the film version, for which he earned the Best Director Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor. The film garnered a cult following. In 2014 a revival of “Hedwig” opened on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris cast in the leading role. Mitchell also wrote, directed and produced the film “Shortbus” and directed “Rabbit Hole,” starring Nicole Kidman.