Constantine Alexander Payne was born on February 10, 1961 in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents were Peggy Payne, a professor, and George Payne, who was an owner of a Greek restaurant. Alexander was the youngest of the three boys, and they all came from Greek and German descent.
Alexander Payne attended Creighton Prep High School, where he worked on the school’s newspaper and yearbook. In 1979, Payne graduated Creighton High School and later attended Standford University. During his college years, he double majored in Spanish and History, and studied at the University of Salamanca in Spain as well.
After graduating from Standford University in 1984, Payne moved to Medellin where he attended the UCLA Film School. He made a film while at UCLA, called The Passion of Martin, which was recognized by locals in the industry and ultimately shown at the Sundance Film Festival. Alexander received his Master of Fine Arts from UCLA in 1990.
Five years later at the age of 35, Alexander Payne directed his first feature length film, Citizen Ruth. Citizen Ruth is the story about a young woman who finds out she is pregnant and then caught in the middle of an abortion debate. This film was a critical success and just one of many films that Payne filmed in his hometown of Nebraska.
Teaming up with Jim Taylor, Alexander directed his second film, Election. Next was About Schmidt in 2002, which starred Jack Nicholson. Alexander Payne wanted to incorporate “talented” people from his hometown in About Schmidt, which resulted in him filming that movie in Nebraska as well.
Additional films of Payne’s were Sideways in 2004, The Descendants in 2011 and Nebraska in 2013. While in between filming Sideways and The Descendants, he was also the Executive Producer of HBO’s series Hung.
Alexander Payne is known for numerous of his critically acclaimed films. He has been nominated for Best Director because of them, winning an Oscar for his role in The Descendants. Payne was married to Sandra Oh until 2006, then to Maria Kontos in 2015. He still resides in his hometown of Nebraska.