Brian Helgeland was born in 1961 in Providence, Rhode Island and raised in New Bedford Massachusetts, fictional home of The Spouter Inn where Ishmael first met Queequeg. A born worker, Helgeland has endeavored to achieve in the following fields: snow shoveler, scrap newspaper collector, dishwasher, nursing home janitor, drug store clerk and unreliable nightshift gas station attendant. Facing unemployment after receiving a degree in English, Helgeland fell back on generations of family tradition and took a site as a 'half-share man' on the fishing vessel Mondego II, working the dredges of a deep sea scalloper over 100 miles offshore for two weeks at a time. Fish School. North Atlantic University. After a year at sea, a chance meeting with a book entitled "A Guide To Film School" changed everything. Ignorant as to the existence of such venerable institutions, he applied to several and was accepted by one. Giving up his now 'full-share man' berth on the fishing vessel Concordia, Helgeland headed west in 1985. After working on several low budget horror films and co-writing "A Nightmare On Elm Street 4" (at the time the highest grossing independent film of all time), he made his mark with several spec script sales, the flashiest being "The Ticking Man" which he co-wrote with Manny Coto. Two other specs sales to Warner Bros landed him an exclusive writing deal at what was then the greatest movie studio on earth. That deal resulted in seven produced films starting with two for director (and longtime mentor) Richard Donner and ending with two films for Clint Eastwood. In between came the much lauded "LA Confidential" for which Helgeland won an Academy Award. Brian's directing career began when Donner gave him an episode of "Tales From The Crypt" to direct. Tired of Helgeland's script note complaints, Donner was eager for him to see how things looked at the trigger end of the gun instead of the barrel. Next up as writer/director was "Payback" which Mel Gibson committed to after leafing through a rough draft version of the script on a Warners ADR stage. Although the director's cut was eventually released, the experience was bittersweet as Paramount demanded a happier ending which Helgeland refused to direct. With the rug pulled out from under him, Helgeland regained momentum with the spec script for "A Knight's Tale". He envisioned the rags to riches story of a peasant determined to prove himself a knight, as a version of his own humble beginnings before moving to Hollywood, but also as the tale of a lowly screenwriter who wants to become a noble director. Columbia Pictures bought the script in a bidding war and mere months later Helgeland found himself in the Czech Republic with Heath Ledger, Paul Bettany and the gang conjuring the story of William Thatcher - aka Sir Ulrich von Lichtenstein - in what would become his most fan favorite film. It provided him with a holiday away from himself which turned out to be unrepeatable. Since then Helgeland has alternated between directing and writing for such talents as Paul Greengrass, Ridley Scott and Pete Berg. But Tony Scott is the director he felt closest to sensibility-wise, in that both of them believed that any single moment in a film can be ordinary and absurd and funny and tragic all at the same time. They worked on several projects together - produced and unproduced. "Man On Fire" was their crowning achievement. Helgeland also wrote and directed the film "42" with Chadwick Boseman and "Legend" with Tom Hardy. Both were biopics. Helgeland recently has decided the film "Cool Hand Luke" is not the highest achievement of Western Civilization after all. The film "Klute" in fact is. Helgeland is also an admirer of John Huston, Richard Brooks, Walter Hill, Frank Pierson, Curtis Hanson and all screenwriters who knighted themselves into the director's chair. As he likes to say about writing. "It's okay to lie if you reach a higher truth doing so."
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