10 Highbrow Authors Who Gave Acting a Try


I can’t say whether or not L’enlèvement de Michel Houellebecq, or The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, will be the feel-good comedy of the year when it comes out (I’m guessing it won’t), but I can tell you thatthe film that is supposedly based on Houellebecq’s bailing on a 2011 book tour, causing wild speculation as to his whereabouts, isn’t the first time an author has stepped in front of the camera to act. Here are some other highbrow writers who graced the silver (or small) screen.

Susan Sontag and Saul Bellow, Zelig (1983)

They only appeared briefly in Woody Allen’s 1983 mockumentary, but can you think of any other film that had cameos by both Saul Bellow and Susan Sontag?

Salman Rushdie, Then She Found Me (2007)

Remember that time when Salman Rushdie gave Helen Hunt a sonogram?

Norman Mailer, Gilmore Girls (2004)

Remember that time when Sookie told Norman Mailer that she was pregnant? Easily one of the top five moments in television history, and a better Mailer-on-film moment than his infamous fight with Rip Torn in Mailer’s experimental film Maidstone.

Truman Capote as Lionel Twain in Murder by Death (1976)…

… and as himself in Annie Hall (1977)

In case you didn’t know, “the winner of the Truman Capote look-alike contest,” was actually Truman Capote.

Wallace Shawn

This is the question: Is Wallace Shawn, the son of the legendary New Yorker editor William Shawn, a great actor who also happens to be a playwright and essayist, or is he a great playwright and essayist who not only co-wrote and co-starred in My Dinner With Andre, but also appeared in Manhattan, The Princess Bride, and Clueless?

George Plimpton in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

He appeared as an uncredited Bedouin.

John Irving in The World According to Garp (1982)

That’s him as the wrestling referee.

Maya Angelou, Madea’s Family Reunion (2006)

Yup, that happened.