James Gunn was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri in a large Irish Catholic family. His father and his uncles were all lawyers. He has been writing and performing as long as he can remember. He began making 8mm films at the age of 12. Many of these were comedic splatter films featuring his brothers being disemboweled by zombies.
Gunn dropped out of college to pursue a rock and roll career. His band, "the Icons", released one album, "Mom, We Like It Here on Earth". He earned very little money doing this and so during this time, he also worked as an orderly in Tucson, Arizona, upon which many of the situations in his first novel, "The Toy Collector", are based. He also wrote and drew comic strips for underground and college newspapers.
Gunn eventually returned to school and received his B.A. at Saint Louis University. He immediately thereafter moved to New York where he received an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, which he today thinks may have been a wonderfully expensive waste of time.
While finishing his MFA, Gunn started writing "The Toy Collector" and began working for "Troma Studios", America's leading B-Movie production company. While there he wrote and produced the cult classic Tromeo and Juliet (1996) and, with Lloyd Kaufman, he wrote the book, "All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger".
Gunn had a spiritual awakening in Cannes France in 1997. At that time, he quit Troma and moved from New York to Los Angeles. He wrote and acted in the film The Specials (2000) with Rob Lowe, Jamie Kennedy, Thomas J. Churchill and his brother Sean Gunn. He wrote two scripts for Warner Brothers live action movies: Spy vs. Spy (1985) (VG) and Scooby-Doo (2002). In 1999, after almost five years, he finished "The Toy Collector".
Gunn has four brothers, all of whom are in the entertainment industry. His brother, Patrick Gunn, is a Senior VP at Artisan Entertainment, the company responsible for distributing (and the marketing campaign of) The Blair Witch Project (1999). His brother, Brian Gunn, is a screenwriter who works in partnership with their cousin Mark Gunn. Brian and Mark wrote the MTV-TV movie 2gether, and are executive producers on the upcoming television series of the same name. Gunn's brother, Matt Gunn wrote and starred in the winner of the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, Man About Town, Gunn's brother, Sean Gunn is an actor regularly seen in films, commercials, and such TV shows as "Angel" (1999). Gunn and Sean have collaborated on two occasions Sean starred in Tromeo and Juliet (1996), and they acted together and co-produced The Specials (2000). He has one sister, Beth, who is a lawyer.
Gunn married the actress and cartoonist Jenna Fischer in 2000. They were divorced in 2008.
|Jenna Fischer||(7 October 2000 - 2008) (divorced)|
Took five years to write his first novel, "The Toy Collector."
Is an avid comic book reader.
Has worked as a hospital orderly, bar musician, and quarry worker.
Choreographed the sex scenes for Tromeo and Juliet (1996).
Interviewed for summer job filing papers at Troma Films, and was instead hired to write the screenplay for Tromeo and Juliet (1996) (and was paid $150 dollars to do so).
Earned an MFA from Columbia University in New York.
The first person in cinema history to write back-to-back #1 for the weekend box office hits, with Dawn of the Dead (2004) on 19 March 2004 and Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) on 26 March 2004.
Former son-in-law of Anne Fischer.
Cousin of Mark Gunn.
Appeared as himself in the 2008 novel Bad Moon Rising by Jonathan Maberry. Gunn is one of several real-world horror celebrities who are in the fictional town of Pine Deep when monsters attack. Other celebrities include Tom Savini, Brinke Stevens, Ken Foree, Stephen Susco, Debbie Rochon, Joe Bob Briggs and blues man Mem Shannon.
Told NYTimes in August 2011 that the horror film with the most profound impact on him when he was young was Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), because the most frightening aspect of all was that it moved him to relate to, or empathize, with the killer.
Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does buy happier.
On Scooby-Doo: "With all the difficulties plaguing the world over the past year, isn't it about time we had a hero who tells kids it's okay to be afraid?" "Scooby's the greatest cartoon character ever. He isn't cute like Mickey, or smart like Bugs, or fearless like Woody and Buzz -- he's a talking dog who's more human than I am. It's his humanity and imperfections that make him special."
If life gives you lemons, make lemonade, if life gives you assholes, make a Troma movie.
I saw Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) in a theater when it first came out, and it was so gritty and dark I felt sick to my stomach for a couple of days afterwards - like the evil of it stuck to my soul. Part of what was so frightening was Rooker, Michael's incredible performance. We normally distance ourselves from villains, but I almost felt for him as Henry. The last thing you want to do is identify with a serial killer. That's scarier than anything jumping out of the corner of a film frame.
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