NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t



Alexander Payne
directed and co-wrote the films Election, About Schmidt, Sideways and The Descendants. He’s directed Jack Nicholson and George Clooney in starring roles and has won two Oscars for best adapted screenplay. His new film, Nebraska, stars Bruce Dern, who won the best actor award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his performance. Nebraska also just received six Independent Spirit Award nominations, including best feature and best director. In it, Dern plays an old man who is beginning to show signs of dementia — which is maybe why he falls for one of those junk-mail sweepstakes scams and actually believes that he’s won $1 million. He’s convinced that all he needs to do to collect his money is show up at the Lincoln, Neb., address that’s mentioned on the mailing. That won’t be easy because he lives in Billings, Mont., and can no longer drive — so he starts walking. Payne tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross that even with a story like Nebraska, he’s always looking for a film’s comic potential. “I approach them all as comedies,” he says. “… When I was reading the script [for Nebraska], I read it as a comedy … but then with moments of gravity or realism to anchor it in our world.” MORE