Longhorns on Screen

From Eli Wallach and Farrah Fawcett to Wes Anderson and Matthew McConaughey, Longhorns have a talented ancestry of Hollywood stars and filmmakers. You may have even seen some of their recent work without knowing it, whether in blockbusters or on the indie festival circuit. Here’s our roundup of 11 alumni who have joined the tradition on the big and small screens.

Longhorns on Screen


Keith Maitland, BA ’98

This documentary revisits the 1966 UT Tower shooting on the occasion of its 50th anniversary this summer, combining archival footage, survivor interviews, and rotoscopic animations—a blended live-action/animation style you may recognize from 2006’s A Scanner Darkly. Director and producer Maitland (The Eyes of Me, Law & Order) is one of numerous Longhorns involved with the film, which won both the documentary grand jury prize and the audience award for documentary feature at South by Southwest 2016.


James Fino, BS ’88

Deemed “the most human movie of the year” by Esquire, Anomalisa was nominated for a 2016 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Released in January, the film follows a lonely self-help author who is bored with life until he falls in love with a timid woman in a Cincinnati hotel. James Fino is an executive producer for the film, written and directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. A specialist in animation and visual effects, Fino is the co-owner of animation studio 23D Films, Inc. and production company Starburns Industries.


The Martian

Mac Ruth, BS ’90

Behind the sounds of every space explosion and shuttle takeoff in The Martian was sound mixer Mac Ruth. Having worked on films like 13 Hours, Spy, and Underworld, Ruth has carved an impressive space for himself in Hollywood. Along with sound mixers Paul Massey and Mark Taylor, he was nominated for a 2016 Oscar for Best Sound Mixing.

Altered Carbon

Laeta Kalogridis, MA ’90

As a writer for Avatar, Shutter Island, and Terminator: Genisys, Laeta Kalogridis has worked with top directors like James Cameron and Martin Scorsese. Netflix picked up her latest project Altered Carbon, an adaptation of Richard K. Morgan’s sci-fi book of the same name, for a 10-episode season. The series takes place in a dystopian future where the elite can achieve immortality by storing their consciousness digitally and downloading it into another body. A release date has not yet been set.

First Girl I Loved

Kerem Sanga, BA ’06, Life Member; Seth Caplan, BS ’02; Rick Diaz, BS  ’06

Directed, produced, and shot by a team of three Longhorns, indie drama First Girl I Loved is the winner of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival NEXT Audience Award. The film follows Anne, a high school senior who falls in love with Sasha, the star of the softball team. When Anne tells her best friend Cliff, who’s secretly in love with her, he lashes out. Inspired by the coming out story of Kerem Sanga’s sister, the film delves into complex topics of abuse, love, and sexuality.


Master of None

Noël Wells, BS ’10

Since Noel Wells left Texas for Los Angeles in 2010, she has created a popular YouTube series, performed with the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and briefly joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. Now, she stars as Rachel on Netflix’s hit series Master of None. Created by Aziz Ansari, the comedy centers on a 30-year-old actor making his way through life in New York City. The show, which was picked up for a second season, recently received the 2016 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Comedy.

Richard Linklater—Dream is Destiny

Louis Black, MA ’80

As a founder of The Austin Chronicle and South By Southwest, Louis Black is deeply embedded in Austin’s cultural scene. In his latest documentary feature, he takes on another of the city’s symbols, filmmaker Richard Linklater. Richard Linklater—dream is destiny, which captures the life and work of Linklater and stars Matthew McConaughey, BS ’93, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, Jack Black, and Ethan Hawke, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.


Mark Duplass, BA ’98, Jay Duplass, BA ’96

The Duplass brothers—often referred to as the kings of mumblecore—are known for portraying subjects not often discussed, whether it’s the aftermath of an attempted suicide or young love that turns abusive. Stirring up buzz is the producers’ latest project, Tangerine, now available on Netflix, which focuses on a transgender sex worker who discovers her pimp boyfriend has been cheating on her.

Photos from top:

Photo courtesy Tower Documentary; Twentieth Century Fox/Entertainment Pictures/ZUMAPRESS.com; K.C. Bailey/Netflix


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