Paul Haggis is the award-winning filmmaker who, in 2006, became the first screenwriter to write two Best Film Oscar winners back-to-back - Million Dollar Baby (2004) directed by Clint Eastwood, and Crash (2004/I) which he himself directed. For Crash (2004/I), he won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. The film also received an additional four nominations including one for Haggis' direction. Crash (2004/I) reaped numerous awards during its year of release from associations such as the IFP Spirit Awards, the Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA.
In 2006, Haggis' screenplays included the duo Clint Eastwood productions Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and Letters from Iwo Jima (2006), the latter earning him his third screenplay Oscar nomination. He also helped pen Casino Royale (2006), which garnered considerable acclaim for reinvigorating the James Bond spy franchise.
In 2007, Haggis wrote, directed and produced In the Valley of Elah (2007) for Warner Independent Pictures, Samuels Media and Summit Entertainment. The film, which starred Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, and Susan Sarandon, was a suspense drama of a father's search for his missing son, who is reported AWOL after returning from Iraq. Jones earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the film. Haggis' latest film, The Next Three Days (2010), stars Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, and Elizabeth Banks. It was produced by Highway 61 and Lionsgate Films. Hwy 61 is the production company Haggis formed with his friend and producing partner Michael Nozik. This is their first feature. It was released in November 2010.
Haggis was born in London, Ontario, Canada and moved to California in his early 20s. For over two decades he has written, directed and produced television shows such as "thirtysomething" (1987) and "The Tracey Ullman Show" (1987), "Due South" (1994), "The Black Donnellys" (2007) and also developed credits as a pup writer on many 'Norman Lear' sitcoms. He also created the acclaimed, if short-lived, CBS series "EZ Streets" (1996) which the New York Times cited as one of the most influential shows of all time, noting, that without it "there would be no Sopranos."
Haggis is equally committed to his private and social concerns. He is the founder of Artists for Peace and Justice. Under this umbrella, many of his friends in the film business have come forward to build schools and medical clinics serving the children of the slums of Haiti.
He divides his time between residences in Los Angeles and New York.
|Deborah Rennard||(21 June 1997 - present) (separated) 1 child|
|Diane Christine Gettas||(9 April 1977 - 1997) (divorced) 3 children|
He is the son of Edward (Ted) H. Haggis and Mary Yvonne Metcalfe. His mother was a catholic. He has two younger sisters: Kathy and Jo. Children with Diane Gettas (married 1977-1997): Alissa Sullivan (born 1978), Lauren Kilvington and Katy Elizabeth. Son with Deborah Rennard (married 1997-): James (born 1998).
In March 2003, Razor Magazine made a list of "nonconformists that defy dictates, the iconoclasts that cling to independent thought, the radicals that refuse adherence, that give us pause. They are what legends are made of." Along with Sam Shepard, Julian Schnabel, Baz Luhrmann, Lance Armstrong, Richard Branson, Robert Shapiro, John Irving and Bill Clinton, Razor Magazine named Haggis one of its "25 Mavericks of our time.".
The April 7, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone chose him as their breakthrough filmmaker of the year, saying "Crash, Haggis' directorial film debut is already being touted for this year's awards race."
He was originally going to direct Million Dollar Baby (2004). He was in the middle of directing Crash (2004/I) when Clint Eastwood asked to direct the film after being offered the lead. Haggis agreed.
Had a heart attack during the filming of Crash (2004/I), yet refused to let anyone else finish directing it. He returned to directing 2 weeks after the event.
Moved to LA age 22.
Studied cinematography at London's Fanshawe College.
On March 5, 2006 became the first person in Oscar history to have written back-to-back best picture winners.
Was nominated for an Oscar for writing three years in a row: 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Quit the Church of Scientology in 2009, because he disagreed with the organization about their support of Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in California. His public break with the church was profiled in a long piece by Lawrence Wright in the February 14, 2011, issue of "The New Yorker"; the article was unusual in that it shed light on some of the inner workings and controversies of the normally secretive Church of Scientology.
Estimated that he spent more than a hundred thousand dollars on courses and auditing, and three hundred thousand dollars on various Scientology initiatives (The New Yorker, 2011).
"I agreed to write the pilot because I thought it would just go away, but it became this huge hit and I remember waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning in a cold sweat, dripping wet. I mean, I was drenched. I just pictured my tombstone and it said: 'Paul Haggis: Creator of Walker Texas Ranger.' So the impetus for making these movies is really just to wipe that image from my mind." (on his decision to move from television to films like Crash)
A lot of films made me love the movies, everything from Hitchcock to Godard. But the ones that really grabbed me were Costa-Gavras's films like "Z" and "State of Siege."
The worst thing you can do to a filmmaker is to walk out of his film and go, "That was a nice movie." But if you can cause people to walk out and then argue about the film on the sidewalk ... I think we're all seeking dissension, and we love to affect an audience.
Artists need to be outsiders in order to really view what's going on. That little bit of detachment has been great for me being down here. I look like everyone else; I almost sound like everyone else, except for the odd time I say chesterfield or serviette. But I am different. And I am proud to be a Canadian...
As artists, we have to be brave. If we aren't brave, we aren't artists.
Talking about Scientology (in the New Yorker): Demands for donations never seemed to stop. They used friends and any kind of pressure they could apply. I gave them money just to keep them from calling and hounding me.
Talking about "Walker, Texas Ranger" (1993): "It was the most successful thing I ever did," he says. "Two weeks of work. They never even used my script!"
What I love about writing is the contradictions we all embody as human beings.
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