The Anniversary Party

Jennifer Jason Leigh and I wrote, produced and directedThe Anniversary Party. We also play the central characters, Joe and Sally Therrian, recently reunited after a 9-month separation, and throwing a sixth wedding anniversary party to prove to themselves as well as their friends that everything is all right. 

The other cast members include Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Beals, Jane Adams, John C. Reilly, Michael Panes, Mina Badie, Parker Posey, John Benjamin Hickey and Denis O'Hare.

Jennifer and I first met while she played Sally Bowles on Broadway in Cabaret. The idea for the story came from Jennifer and I getting to know each other. We thought it would be nice to make a film with friends, and so, partly influenced by the experience she had had working on a Dogma film in Africa we set out to make a film that would feel real, with a crossover of who we all are in real life and who we all are in the film and to make it about grown-up issues and dealt with in a grown-up way i.e. not perfectly and a little messy.

Here's a video diary I made during the course of the film, and some interviews we did about it...

The film premiered at the Cannes film festival in 2001 and was released shortly after. We won a National Board of Review award and were nominated for two Independent Spirit awards for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay

It's Legal

In 2001, after The Anniversary Party was released, Joe Mantegna from the commercial company Zooma Zooma approached me about possibly joining his roster of directors with a view to directing commercials.
In November I shot my first (and only!) commercial, an anti-smoking PSA called It's Legal.  I was able to change the setting of the story and shoot it on a boat that is moored in Chelsea, NYC to give the spot a more eerie ambience, and I was also happy to be able to use several of my friends in roles.

The Weakest Link

in October 2001 I was asked to appear on a celebrity edition of The Weakest Link, entitled Scene Stealers.  Now first of all I have issue with that phrase. I sort of think that if you are stealing the scene then in some way you are diverting attention from what the scene should be about, and I think it infers a level of showing off and pulling focus. However sometimes I think it can mean that the scene demands a sort of bravura performance, which the writer intended, and the actor is justified in his or her flourishes.
So I got over it. And it meant I would get ten thousand dollars for a charity of my choice (in this case Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS), and they'd fly me to LA and put me up at my favourite hotel, The Chateau Marmont, and I could have fun with my LA peeps.  So I did it.
It was insane!! First of all it took about 9 hours from start to finish, and secondly Anne Robinson was scary! Well, not really. She is very nice when she is not being Anne, and I have seen her out of Anne drag with her daughter and she is a darling, but her whole scary head mistress persona is very formidable!  The video here shows me very nervous but still fighting back!
The funniest thing was all the alliances that were being made in the make-up room, and how everyone got quite aggressive.  Ice T was very scary.  I was in an alliance with the lovely Kathy Najimy and Anthony Anderson amongst others, and I was feeling very good about myself having won several rounds but then it was down to just the three of us and as the man says 'statistically Alan was the strongest link' and so they bumped me!  It was quite a life lesson i can tell you.


Cinemagique was made for Disney Studios theme park in Paris.  (It's the park just next to Disneyland, Paris.)
I play a wizard who weaves his magic and transports Martin Short's character from the audience into the actual film, whereupon he takes part in various famous films from history. Julie Delpy is the love interest. It's great fun spotting all the different films, and of course it's pretty cool going to Disneyland and being able to see yourself in one of the attractions.

Ex S

I made a video diary documentary for BBC Scotland's Ex-S series.  It actually began at the end of 2000 as I was finishing up The Anniversary Party in LA, and then it focussed on my time in NYC doing Design For Living.  There is a very scary sequence in which I have everything shaved for an article I wrote for Marie Claire magazine!

It's so funny to look back at things like this and see what was going on in my life in such detail.  I don't feel I have changed, and I was still having fun, so hoorah!


This is a short film directed by Nick Philippou, loosely based on a story by Elisabeth Hauptmann, who was a collaborator and inspiration to Bertolt Brecht.

Here's what Nick has to say about it...

Kleopatra is set in New York (or any major city) at the beginning of the 21st century. A woman lives on the street, the epitome of ugliness. An artist 'discovers' her and brings her into his world, making her an icon and a star for a while. The star that Kleopatra becomes is reflected in the artist's work -  he makes her a living sculpture for one night only.

Sex and the City

Whilst I was appearing on Broadway in Design For Living, I guest-starred in an episode of Sex and the City in which I played 'O', a stylist from Dolce and Gabbana. O had the job of dressing Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) for a New York-style fashion show. The episode was the second of the season's double-bill premiere, and Ed Koch, Heidi Klum and Kevin Aucoin also made appearances.

I remembered how scary television is after doing this. When it came out, everywhere I went people kept saying 'me likey' and I couldn't understand why. Then I remembered that O said it a few times.  People still say it to me to this day actually.

Design for Living

Joe Mantello directed Noel Coward's play about three friends who are in love with each other, and who cannot seem to stay apart. I played Otto opposite Jennifer Ehle and Dominic West. The play opened at The American Airlines Theater on Broadway in March 2001.

I'd always wanted to do this play. I've seen it done, but never felt the true meaning of the play had ever come out. It was always one of these things that annoyed me. I thought it was such an extraordinary idea for three people to try and live together. Even now it's such a daring and provocative thing. To discuss it in the 1930s must have been an extraordinary thing. I also love Noel Coward and I love the subject matter. I love being questioned in my life and doing art that questions preconceived ideas.

It's a really hard play to do though, because you ask the audience to go on a journey that ends with them not really liking the main characters very much.  I love that notion, but it's not a common one for most mainstream theatregoers to experience.