Alexander Payne, Sandra Oh’s Ex-Partner: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Alexander Payne & Sandra Oh

S andra Oh is hosting the 76th Golden Globes with comedian Andy Samberg. Oh, 47, has recently undergone a career boom, as her starring role in Killing Zoe made her the first actress of Asian descent to be nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Oh is currently single, but she was previously married to writer and director Alexander Payne. The couple dated for two years and were married for an additional three before divorcing in 2006. Learn more about Payne and his relationship with Oh here:

1. Payne Has Won 2 Oscars for Best Original Screenplay & Been Nominated 3 Times for Best Director

The Descendants Wins Adapted Screenplay: 2012 OscarsAngelina Jolie presents Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne and Jim Rash with the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants at the 84th Academy Awards. See more 2012 Oscar highlights: Become an Oscar Insider: Check out our Academy Originals: ABOUT THE ACADEMY The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world's…2012-03-01T23:57:48Z

Payne, 57, is one of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers of his generation. He made his directorial debut with the 1996 comedy Citizen Ruth. The controversial film dealt with abortion rights, and received positive reviews from critics. Payne found even greater success with 1998’s Election, as the film landed him his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Payne earned his first Golden Globe nomination for writing 2002’s About Schmidt. 2004’s Sideways would prove to be one of his biggest critical successes, however, earning him five Academy Award nominations and a win for Best Original Screenplay. 2011’s The Descendants followed suit, earning him a second Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama.

Payne has continued to receive acclaim for his family dramas. 2013’s Nebraska was nominated for a whopping six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. His latest release, 2017’s Downsizing, received mixed reviews from critics, though actress Hong Chau did receive a Golden Globe nomination.

2. Oh Landed Her Breakout Role By Starring In Payne’s Acclaimed 2004 Drama ‘Sideways’

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Oh was introduced to a wider audience when she landed a role in Payne’s 2004 drama Sideways. The film was their first and only collaboration together. When asked whether Payne set out to write a part for her, Oh told the New York Times that it just came together organically. “Alexander doesn’t work that way,” she explained. “He just thought the part of Stephanie was right for me, and it’s not necessarily the kind of part people would think of me for. Even when we were shooting, people would say, ‘Oh, I thought you’d be playing the other [character] Maya who is more sincere and earthy’.”

Oh went on to her discuss the film’s dynamic between men and women, and how Payne’s screenplay was unique in that it showed the latter in a more mature light than is typical in Hollywood. “Even though they are not on screen that much, the women have a tremendous impact because of the way they’re written,” she said. “I wish more women would be represented in film like that because I think how Stephanie and Maya deal with men is how women really want to deal with men.”

The film’s ensemble won the 2004 Best Cast Award from the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Oh considers Sideways, along with 1994’s The Diary of Evelyn Lau, as the two best films she’s ever made.

3. Payne Is An Author Who Has Also Done Uncredited Rewrites for ‘Meet the Parents’ & ‘Jurassic Park III’

Alexander Payne Regis Dialogue with Kenneth TuranRead more: essays, articles, photography, ephemera, and related event history at Writer-director Alexander Payne's filmography of dark comic satires is packed with punch—his projects chosen, written, and directed with care as intricate character studies incorporating intelligent and humorous social commentary. Accompanied by clips from his films, Payne discusses his creative process and reflects on…2011-09-16T20:57:50Z

In addition to his own films, Payne has worked on several Hollywood comedies and blockbusters. He wrote a draft of Jurassic Park III along with his long time collaborator Jim Taylor, though much of what they wrote was redone by Peter Buchman. Payne also did an uncredited revision of the classic comedy Meet the Parents starring Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro.

Payne and Jim Taylor wrote an early draft of the comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, but Payne disliked the final film, saying that star Adam Sandler had removed much of what he and Taylor originally had done. Payne has served as an executive producer on the films King of California and The Savages, the latter of which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Payne has also published two books, both of which tie into the theme of his film Sideways. The first is 2003’s The Coffee Table Coffee Table Book, co-written with James Zemaitis; and the second is 2005’s The Sideways Guide to Wine & Life, co-written with Jim Taylor.

4. Payne Married Greek Philologist Maria Kontos In 2015 & They Have an Infant Daughter

Maria Kontos and Alexander Payne

Payne is currently married to a woman named Maria Kontos. They met in May 2014 when Payne visited Aigio, his birthplace, in Greece. According to Protothema, the couple met there and traveled to Athens together, where Kontos, gave Payne a tour to the Acropolis Museum. They were wed the following year in a private ceremony. On August 18, 2016, the filmmaker became an honorary citizen of Aigio.

Kontos, 30, is a philologist, which means she is fluent in the study of language in oral and written historical sources. Philologists are also knowledgable about the intersection between textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics.

During a 2018 interview, Payne revealed that he had recently become a father. “I have a new daughter,” he told the Guardian. “Two weeks. A tiny human.” When asked what her name was, Payne refused to give it name for the record.

5. Both Payne & Oh Have Made a Point of Not Discussing Their Divorce Publicly

Sandra Oh and Alexander Payne in 2003.

Despite the fact that both are highly visible entertainers, both Payne and Oh have made a point to keep the details of their divorce private. Payne, who generally speaks less of his personal life and more about his work, opened up about the recurring theme of alienation from loved ones in his films to SF Weekly.

“Both Schmidt and The Descendants have a protagonist who’s reached a point in life, who says ‘I’ve done my job, I’ve been a good provider’ and doesn’t realize how distant he’s been from others and from himself,” he explained. Payne also spoke on the role that relationship jealousies play in the lives of his characters, and to some extent, himself. “It seems pretty common, pretty dramatic. Maybe I felt some jealousy early in life, and that’s made a mark. Maybe.”

Oh has made a point of avoiding the discussion altogether. “I don’t listen to this stuff. I don’t see it,” she told Marie Claire about the tabloid gossip regarding her marriage. “I tell my people I don’t want to know about it, because while rationally you might know it’s ridiculous, it can hurt your feelings. It can knock me off from being my authentic self.” When asked to elaborate on her post-divorce relationship with Payne, she said: “I can’t.”

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