Alexander Payne

Payne in 2013, photo by Debby Wong/

Birth Name: Constantine Alexander Payne

Place of Birth: Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.

Date of Birth: February 10, 1961

*75% Greek
*25% German

Alexander Payne is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He has directed the films Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt, Sideways, a segment of Paris, je t’aime; The Descendants, Nebraska, Downsizing, and The Holdovers. He co-wrote all of his films, but Nebraska and The Holdovers, and won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Sideways and The Descendants. He has also appeared in Paris, je t’aime, and directed the pilot episode of the series Hung. His films often lean towards satire.

He is the son of Peggy and George Payne, who are restaurant owners. Alexander’s father is of half Greek and half German descent. His surname, Payne, was changed from Papadopoulos. Alexander’s mother is of Greek ancestry. He was raised in Dundee, Omaha. Alexander has one child with his former wife, Greek philologist Maria Kontos. He has also taken out Greek citizenship, in 2022.

Regarding his background, Alexander has stated:

I’m American, I am Greek-American, but American. However, this crisis affecting Greece I feel that it mobilizes my DNA. Sometimes I’m thinking about things that might help. I believe that the time is right for artists, including Greek artists of the diaspora to make beautiful things. And to do it with the consciousness of their Greekness, to help Greece and care.

Alexander’s paternal grandfather was Nicholas/Nikos/Nick S. Papadopoulous/Payne (the son of Spiro Papadopoulos and Georgia Michalopoulos). Nicholas was born in Aigio, Achaea, Greece. He founded The Virginia Cafe in Omaha.

Alexander’s paternal grandmother was named Clara Rose Hoffman/Hoffmann (the daughter of Joseph Hoffmann, Sr. and Anna). Clara was born in Nebraska, to parents from Germany.

Alexander’s maternal grandparents had roots in Livadeia, Boeotia, and Syros, Greece.


Alexander’s paternal grandfather, Nicholas/Nikos/Nick S. Papadopoulous/Payne, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Alexander’s paternal grandmother, Clara Rose Hoffman/Hoffmann, on the 1910 U.S. Census –

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