Legendary, Oscar nominated actor Judd Hirsh is certainly having a career resurgence with his recent Oscar best supporting actor nomination for his work in Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. The renowned actor was first nominated for the golden statue for his work in Ordinary People, directed by Robert Redford, in 1980. With the increased interest in his work, Hirsch’s lead role in filmmaker Michael Wechsler’s award-winning, critically acclaimed psychological thriller Altered Minds should not be overlooked.
“Many consider Judd’s lead performance in Altered Minds as one of the best performances of his illustrious career,” explains Wechsler. “However, due to the film’s limited promotional budget, his stellar work did not receive the recognition it truly deserved.”
In Altered Minds, Hirsch stars in the central role of Dr. Shellner, a Nobel Prize-winning psychiatrist and father of five, who was rumored to have worked for the CIA during the Cold War and is accused by one of his own children of conducting experiments in MKUltra mind control. (*during the 1960’s and 70’s there were reports of the U.S. government conducting mind altering experiments on its citizens – acts where the lines of science fiction and reality became blurred.) During a family reunion, Dr. Shellner’s adopted son Tommy, (played by Ryan O’Nan), makes the stunning accusation that his father, who is dying of cancer, conducted psychological experiments on himself and his siblings. Is the good doctor a monster? Is the family’s house a torture chamber? Are Tommy’s visions fragments of his own mental instability or is it PTSD left over from his childhood? A night of revelations ensues which brings forth truth, disbelief, grief and introspection, defining the mask of a loving father against the backdrop of a winter storm.
“I’m thrilled that new generations of film lovers are discovering Judd Hirsch and his outstanding work over the years,” comments Wechsler. “Judd was born to play Dr. Shellner in Altered Minds and I hope more people will discover his work in the film. I’m hoping this Oscar noise can lead more of his fans to my film, as well at to one of my favorites, Running on Empty, in which he also stars.”
The film and Hirsch’s performance received stellar reviews by many critics:
“Altered Minds is a film that keeps its secrets nicely close to its chest until the increasingly heightened last half hour, and while all of the performances are suitably intense (with Judd Hirsch delivering his expected sense of intelligence and compassion) impressive attention is also played to production design and tone, with the film often lapsing into atmospheric gloominess as lights go out and scenes are played out in the dark woods near to the house.” (Mark Adams, Chief Film Critic, Screen International)
“Judd Hirsch gives his best performance since Ordinary People.” (Adam Schartoff, Filmwax Radio)
“The first thing I want to mention about Altered Minds is how good the acting is. We’ve known Judd Hirsch for years as an actor who has played endearing characters in Ordinary People and Independence Day, not to mention his appearances on the television series Taxi and Dear John. The role of Dr. Nathaniel Shellner is one he could easily have turned into a two-dimensional adult character, but Hirsch reminds us of what a talented actor he is by making him much more. How dare anyone forget how great an actor he is.” (Ben Kenber, The Ultimate Rabbit)
“It also helps that performances are strong all across the board, specifically those from Judd Hirsch and C.S. Lee. Hirsch goes to great lengths to maintain the composure of someone who firmly believes in everything he did and that it was for the greater good, all while trying to keep his family from falling apart.” (DC Filmdom)
Distributed by Gravitas Ventures, Altered Minds is available now to view on Prime Video, Paramount+, MGM+, Roku. Vudu, Tubi, Kanopy, DirecTV, Pluto, Freevee, and others. The film is licensed by eOne for DVD sales.
Since its release, many of Altered Mind’s cast members have had great successes, including Jaime Ray Newman (Marvel The Punisher, Netflix), who won an Academy Award in 2019 as executive producer of the provocative short film SKIN, and Caroline Lagerfelt (Gossip Girl), who has had memorable starring roles in Law & Order SVU: Organized Crime and Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias. Ryan O’Nan stars in ABC’s Big Sky, while C.S. Lee, most known for his work in Dexter, is a cast member of the new CBS series East New York.
Screenwriter/director NYU Tisch School of Arts alum Wechsler produced the film with Shawn R. Singh. Executive producers include Jonathan Sanger (The Elephant Man), Rick Porras (Lord of the Rings), Wendy Herst and Khush Singh. Terry Keefe is co-producer. Tom Swartwout, who edited Sidney Lumet’s last four films, including Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, is the film’s editor. Director of photography is Adrian Correia, while the film’s composer is Edmund Choi. Wechsler currently is in pre-production on his latest feature A Wood’s Tale, set to begin filming in spring 2024.
Altered Minds was a favorite on the festival circuit, winning the Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Filmmaking at the Gasparilla International Film Festival and Outstanding Achievement Awards in both Screenwriting and Cinematography at the Oaxaca FilmFest in 2013. Actress Caroline Lagerfelt also received an Honorable Mention for her role in the film. Wechsler received the Director’s Choice Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Additionally, the film was an official selection at the Montreal World Film Festival, Newport Beach Film Festival, Palm Beach Film Festival, Bushwick Film Festival, Coney Island and Golden Door Film Festivals. The film premiered in Europe at the Glasgow International Film Festival and Fantasporto in Portugal.
About Rowish Productions – Filmmaker Michael Wechsler founded Rowish Productions with producing partner, Shawn Singh, to develop transmedia entertainment across multiple platforms including motion pictures, television, online and mobile. Rowish produces and distributes rich entertainment media focused on cathartic stories of ordinary people transcending extraordinary circumstances.