Tracy Letts (July 04, 1965 - ..)
Born: 4th July, 1965
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Playwright
Region: Tulsa, Oklahoma, "The Stretch", "Killer Joe", "Superior Donuts", "Bug", "Mary Page Marlowe", "August: Osage County", "The Man from Nebraska", "Linda Vista"
Notable works: Pulitzer Prize, Tony Awards

Tracy Letts Facts

Biography

Tracy Letts, full name Tracy Shane Letts, (born July 4, 1965, Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.), American actor and dramatist who was best known for his award-winning play August: Osage County (2007; film 2013).

Letts was raised in Durant, Oklahoma, the home of Southeastern Oklahoma State University. His father, Dennis, was an English professor and an aspiring actor, and his mother, Billie, was a journalism professor and a best-selling novelist. Inspired by his father's work in community theatre, Letts pursued a career in acting. He briefly attended Southeastern Oklahoma State before moving to Dallas and then, at age 20, to Chicago, where he eventually landed acting jobs. In Chicago he also began to write plays.

In 1991 Letts wrote the play Killer Joe, about a Texas family that enlists the titular murderer-for-hire to kill a relative with a sizable life insurance policy. The script was so graphic and violent, however, that no theatre company would agree to produce it. Two years later Letts and a few other actors produced the play themselves. Mixed reviews did not prevent it from being a hit. A later successful staging at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe resulted in well-received productions in New York City and London. Next came Bug, a love story about a woman who is a cocaine addict and a man who thinks his body is infested with insects. It premiered in London in 1996 and later ran in New York. Meanwhile, Letts continued to act. He moved to Los Angeles for a brief period, finding bits of work on television shows such as Seinfeld and Judging Amy. He appeared onstage in several productions of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company before being invited to join the ensemble in 2002.

In 2003 Steppenwolf staged Letts's next play, The Man from Nebraska. The story of an insurance agent's loss of religious faith, it represented a departure from the writer's previous shocking blood-and-guts material and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His subsequent play, August: Osage County, was a black comedy depicting a wildly dysfunctional Oklahoma family coping with the death of its patriarch. Performed by Steppenwolf as well as on Broadway (with Letts's own father in the role of the patriarch) in 2007, August: Osage County won a Pulitzer Prize and five Tony Awards, including for best play. Critics regarded The Man from Nebraska and August: Osage County as tamer than Letts's earlier fare; however, the playwright himself saw more similarities than differences across his body of work. According to Letts, all of his plays feature real-life characters who do not always express themselves poetically.

Letts followed August: Osage County with Superior Donuts, which debuted at Steppenwolf in 2008 and moved to Broadway the following year. The play revolves around a doughnut shop, located in Chicago's changing Uptown neighbourhood, whose Polish American ex-hippie proprietor struggles to deal with his altered surroundings and a new, charismatic African American shop assistant. Also in 2009 Letts's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters premiered at a theatre in Portland, Oregon. In 2016 his one-act The Stretch opened at The Gift Theatre in Chicago, and Mary Page Marlowe, about the quotidian struggles of an accountant, premiered at Steppenwolf. The following year the latter theatre also staged the debut of his play Linda Vista, a comedy about a mid-life crisis. The production moved to Broadway in 2019.

In addition to his writing for the stage, Letts penned the screenplays for film adaptations of Bug (2006) and Killer Joe (2011), both of which were directed by William Friedkin, and of August: Osage County (2013).

Letts's acting credits included roles in Steppenwolf productions of David Mamet's American Buffalo (2009) and Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2010). He made his Broadway debut as an actor when the latter show transferred there in 2012, and he earned a Tony Award for his searing performance as George. In 2013 he joined the cast of the television drama series Homeland as an aggressively determined U.S. senator. Letts later played an investment manager in The Big Short (2015), which relates the stories of several experts who foresaw the 2008 financial crisis. In 2016 he was cast as Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs official John Finlator in the comedy Elvis & Nixon, about a 1970 meeting between U.S. Pres. Richard Nixon and musician Elvis Presley, and as a bloviating college dean in the adaptation of Philip Roth's Indignation. That year he also began appearing in the HBO comedy series Divorce. Film credits from 2017 included The Post, which also starred Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, and the acclaimed coming-of-age tale Lady Bird. In 2019 Letts starred in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons and appeared in Little Women, a film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's beloved classic.

Top 21 Tracy Letts quotes

In theater, the playwright is the boss, period. The decisions will go through him or her. In movies, the writer is pretty far down on the list.
Boss
Decisions
Down
Far
Go
Her
Him
List
Movies
Period
Playwright
Pretty
Theater
Through
I grew up in a small town, in a small community, and I would not have had access to great plays when I was a kid were it not for the films of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' and 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.'
Access
Afraid
Cat
Community
Films
Great
Grew
Had
Hot
Kid
Plays
Roof
Small
Small town
You don't work as hard to watch a movie. You work harder to watch a play, so what the audience puts into it is interesting.
Audience
Hard
Harder
Interesting
Movie
Play
Puts
Watch
Work
You
It's not a natural translation, transition, to take something from stage to screen. Onstage your action is communicated through the spoken word primarily, and on screen it's communicated through pictures. So it's always been kind of unnatural to take something that lives on the stage and turn it into moving pictures.
Action
Always
Been
Kind
Lives
Moving
Natural
On-screen
Onstage
Pictures
Primarily
Screen
Something
Spoken
After the success of 'August,' there were people saying I should change my life. And maybe I should have bought a yacht and traveled the world instead of returning to Steppenwolf to act in and write plays. But I'm from the Midwest, and that's what we do: We go back to work.
Act
After
August
Back
Bought
Change
Go
Instead
Life
Maybe
Midwest
My life
People
Plays
'Killer Joe' provides a lot of red meat for the theater. Pam MacKinnon is the perfect director to shepherd a group of actors who share a certain bloodlust.
Actor
Certain
Director
Group
Joe
Killer
Lot
Meat
Pam
Perfect
Provides
Red
Red meat
Share
When books and plays are made into movies, they frequently want to cut out the valleys and just show the peaks.
Books
Cut
Frequently
Just
Made
Movies
Out
Peaks
Plays
Show
Valleys
Want
I don't believe moviegoers don't have patience. Screenwriters are told a scene can't be longer than three minutes, that you have to cut to the chase. Not true!
Believe
Chase
Cut
Longer
Minutes
Patience
Scene
Than
Three
True
You
I like it when actors get an opportunity to chew into something. They love scenes with beginnings, middles, and ends - scenes that give an arc to their characters and allow audiences to get to know these people.
Actor
Allow
Arc
Audiences
Beginnings
Characters
Chew
Ends
Get
Give
Know
Like
Love
Opportunity
The nature of the beast is that film is a director's medium. It's not a Tracy Letts play, it's a John Wells film. 'August: Osage County,' as a play, is done. Written. On the shelf. It'll be performed in its entirety for years.
August
Beast
County
Director
Done
Entirety
Film
John
Medium
Nature
Performed
Play
Shelf
Tracy
The way we tell our stories on stage is that we use spoken word to convey action, and in movies, we use visual images to convey action.
Action
Convey
Images
Movies
Our
Spoken
Spoken word
Stage
Stories
Tell
Use
Visual
Way
Word
I don't write plays for them to be turned into movies.
Movies
Plays
Them
Turned
Write
When I write a play, and we read it for the first time, the great fear is that everybody is going to say, 'You're a bum and you can't write. This stinks.' and throw the script in the garbage. The great hope is that they're all going to lift me up on their shoulders and carry me to the streets, singing, 'He's a genius, he's a genius!'
Bum
Carry
Everybody
Fear
First
First time
Garbage
Genius
Going
Great
Great hope
He
Hope
I write
I'm just a Chicago actor who's a playwright. Even with the success of 'August,' the people in town who come to our theater know me by sight, because they've seen me onstage so much.
Actor
August
Because
Chicago
Come
Even
Just
Know
Me
Much
Onstage
Our
People
Playwright
I don't have a great face for camera.
Camera
Face
Great
'Killer Joe' was originally written in 1991 and first produced in '93 at the Next Theater's Lab - a 40 seat black box theater in Evanston, Illinois - back when I was getting started. I was just 25 and I had been acting for awhile, but it was my first play and the one that really got me noticed, especially by Steppenwolf.
Acting
Awhile
Back
Been
Black
Box
First
Getting
Getting started
Got
Had
Illinois
Joe
Just
Some people do stage and film. Some people are film actors, and some people are stage actors. I'm quite sure that any of the actors who did the original production of 'August' could have done the film of 'August.' I don't think any of them were particularly surprised when they didn't wind up doing the film.
Actor
Any
August
Could
Did
Doing
Done
Film
Film actors
Original
Particularly
People
Production
Quite
One of the things you hope you've done as a playwright is create roles that can sustain different interpretations.
Create
Different
Done
Hope
Interpretations
One of the things
Playwright
Roles
Sustain
Things
You
I think my experience as an actor helps me to write anything. It certainly helped me to write 'August Osage County.' It helps me to write any play that I'm working on because I think one of the things I do well is write good roles for actors.
Actor
Actor
Any
Anything
August
Because
Certainly
County
Experience
Good
Helped
Helps
I think
Me
I try to write fun - though difficult and challenging - things for actors to do, because I know if they're having fun, they're going to give it everything they got.
Actor
Because
Challenging
Difficult
Everything
Fun
Give
Going
Got
Having
Having fun
Know
Things
Though
I'm not a fan - this is a personal preference - I'm not a fan of tour-de-force writing. I admire it, but it's not where my inclination is. I want to hide.
Admire
Fan
Hide
Inclination
Personal
Preference
Want
Where
Writing

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