Alexander Payne (Papadopoulos) is a film director, screenwriter, and producer, known for several succesful films such as Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011), Nebraska (2013), and Downsizing (2017).

His films are noted for their dark humor and satirical depictions of contemporary American society. Payne is a two-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and a three-time nominee of the Academy Award for Best Director.

“The best cinema is about ethics.”

Is Alexander Payne Greek?

Yes, both his parents are of Greek heritage (his father is half-Greek, half-German, his mother is Greek on both sides of her family).

Payne was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on February 10, 1961, his mother Peggy (née Constantine) and his father George Payne were restaurant owners. Payne is the youngest of three boys and grew up in the same neighborhood as billionaire Warren Buffett.

His paternal grandfather, Nicholas Payne, anglicized the last name from Papadopoulos. His family comes from three areas in Greece: the island of Syros, Livadia, and Aegio.

Payne’s family was part of the fabric of Omaha, which he references as part of his upbringing. His grandfather was a founder and owner of The Virginia Cafe restaurant, which Payne’s father later took over. Payne went there regularly as a child. The restaurant was destroyed in a fire in 1969, this is where the W. Dale Clark Library is located today.

Alexander Payne talks about his Greek heritage: