Hailing from El Paso, Texas, John Cameron Mitchell is an actor, writer, and director most famously known for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. He studied theater at Northwestern University in the early 80s and quickly made his way to the stage on and off Broadway before moving to film and television. Mitchell’s more recent acting credits include recurring roles in TV series such as Girls, Vinyl, Mozart in the Jungle, Shrill, and The Good Fight. The films he has directed include themes of LGBTQ+ issues, sexuality, underground culture, and loss.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Cameron Mitchell wrote the eponymous rock musical and portrayed the title character when it debuted off-Broadway in 1998, and was fortunate to adapt and star in the film on the big screen. He drew inspiration from his personal life experiences as a Catholic-American kid in Germany. Cameron Mitchell identifies as a gay man, yet created Hedwig’s character to be intentionally genderqueer—forgoing a conventional transgender narrative to paint her as “more than a woman or a man.” The lines of gender identity are further blurred in Hedwig’s bearded love interest Yitzhak, played by Miriam Shor in the movie and traditionally portrayed by a woman in the musical.
The plot follows Hedwig as the lead singer in an unpopular band travelling from dive bars to family restaurants, telling her life’s story through her songs. Interspersed are hand-drawn animation sequences and flashbacks leading up to her reunion with rock sensation Tommy Gnosis, Hedwig’s ex-lover and man accused of stealing her music. Premiering in 2001, the film garnered many awards on the international film festival circuit and continues to be a cult favorite to this day.
This film was written and directed by Cameron Mitchell with the idea of portraying sex in an open and honest light. He was inspired by counter-culture gatherings and New York art parties in the early 2000s, and wanted to flip the idea of cinematic metaphors for sex by using explicit sexual acts as metaphors for the issues the characters are experiencing in their lives. As he explains, “The way people express themselves sexually can tell you a lot about who they are.”
The un-simulated sex scenes and gay content caused mixed reviews from the public upon its release in 2006, but it maintains a positive rating of 64 on Metascore, and received several film festival awards.
This film adaptation of the 2006 play of the same name was directed by Cameron Mitchell and stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as parents trying to navigate life after the death of their four-year-old-son. The title gets its name from the idea of parallel universes, and that one tragedy in this life is avoided in another.
Cameron Mitchell was personally interested in becoming involved with the film adaptation from his own experience of losing his younger brother when he was a teenager. “It defined a family forever and recovering from it was something we’re still doing,” he says. Kidman’s performance in the 2010 movie earned her numerous Best Actress nominations, among them an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination.
How to Talk to Girls at Parties
Cameron Mitchell co-wrote the script and directed this short-story adaptation by Neil Gaiman. The story is set in 1970s London and follows a punk-rock aficionado who accidently crashes the wrong party and befriends an alien girl. It stars Elle Fanning, Alex Sharp, and Nicole Kidman.