The Green Mile
“If you’re going to succeed, you’ve got to be like one of those punch-drunk fighters in the old Warner Bros. boxing pictures: too stupid to fall down, you just keep slugging and stay on your feet.” Frank Darabont
French-born, American-raised film director, screenwriter, and producer Frank Darabont spent his early years in Hollywood as a set decorator and production assistant before rocketing into the public eye with his triumphant motion picture directorial debut, The Shawshank Redemption (1994). The movie didn’t burn up the box office but it gained wide praise and numerous honors, including Best (Adapted) Screenplay Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Darabont. Following a five-year break, the Oscar nominee was put back on the limelight with another Academy Award-nominated film, The Green Mile (1999). For his effort, he won a Broadcast Film Critics Award, as well as an Oscar and Director’s Guild of America nods. Darabont’s work on The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile (1999), both based on Stephen King’s novels, has earned him a status as one of only six filmmakers in history with the exceptional merit of having his first two feature films receive nods for the Best Picture Oscar.
Known well for his scriptwriting skill, Darabont has penned such films as the short Woman in the Room (1983), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), the remake of The Blob (1988), the sequel The Fly II (1989) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). Currently, the director/writer is working on the films The Mist and Fahrenheit 451, both for 2007 release.
As for his private life, Darabont has been romantically involved with Julie Richardson.
Childhood and Family:
The son of Hungarian expatriates, Frank Darabont was born in a refugee camp in Montbéliard, Doubs, France, on January 28, 1959. His parents escaped Hungary after the 1956 Hungarian Mutiny, and he was brought to America as an infant, where his family lived in Chicago. Frank was raised in Illinois and California, and enrolled in Hollywood High School. After high school, he went to a college, but dropped out for a career in films.
The Shawshank Redemption
Screenwriter-turned-director Frank Darabont received his first break as a production aide on the horror film Hell Night (1981), and two years later, he, along with a group of friends, obtained the rights to a Stephen King short story, Woman in the Room, and created a 30-minute adaptation of the story that was later aired on several cable stations and was released to video. The film made the semi-finalist list for Oscar consideration in 1983. The next year saw Darabont earn credit as a set dresser for the Ken Russell-helmed Crimes of Passion, a drama starring Kathleen Turner and Bruce Davison.
Darabont’s involvement on Hell Night introduced him to director Chuck Russell, and they collaborated for the 1987 action/comedy A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, which Darabont helped the filmmaker rewrite the film’s script. The success of the film, combined with Darabont’s venerable worship of horror movies led to his writing screenplays for and the remake of The Blob (1988, again with Russell) and The Fly II (1989), the installment to David Cronenberg’s 1986 classic, as well as several episodes of HBO’s “Tales from the Crypt” (1990-1992).
A very triumphant and favorite screenwriter, Darabont made his feature length directing debut with Buried Alive, a TV film that aired on the USA Network in 1990 and starring Tim Matheson and Jennifer Jason Leigh. He continued with an extensive run as writer for George Lucas’s soon-cancelled television series “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” (1992-1993). Darabont, however, did not reach prominence until 1994, after making good on the deal with Stephen King by directing and writing The Shawshank Redemption, a drama film starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins as two convicts imprisoned for life. The Shawshank Redemption won a Mainichi Film Concours, a Kinema Junpo and a Hochi Film for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as a USC Scripter and a Heartland Film Festival, and a Humanitas Prize for Feature Film Category. Additionally, the critically praised received seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, and for his efforts, Darabont netted nominations from the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild, the Golden Globe and the Academy (for Best Adapted Screenplay).
Following the massive success of The Shawshank Redemption, Darabont took a five-year hiatus from directing. He maintained his existence in the industry by doing screenplay rewrites for Kenneth Branagh’s film Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), having small roles in such projects as the TV miniseries version of King’s “The Shining” (1997) and the John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) and executive produced and scripted the HBO-movie Black Cat Run (1998). In 1998, Darabont reportedly worked on the script to Steven Spielberg’s WWII drama Saving Private Ryan, but final screen credit went to writer Robert Rodat.
In 1999, Darabont made an auspicious return to filmmaking with the extremely well-received prison drama The Green Mile, a film he helmed, scripted and produced. Starring Tom Hanks as a kind jail guard and relative newcomer Michael Clarke Duncan in an Academy Award-nominated performance as a devout death row prisoner, the movie, also an adaptation of Stephen King’s book, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and Darabont was nominated for his second Oscar for Writing Adapted Screen play, as well as won a 2000 Broadcast Film Critics Association for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also earned a Directors Guild of America and Saturn nods for Best Director.
Next, Darabont could be seen directing and producing the Jim Carrey comedy The Majestic (2001), which earned criticism from viewers and critics for the too heavy-handed Frank Capra-like story and performances. He followed this with The Salton Sea (2002), as producer, and the Tom Cruise thriller Collateral (2004), as executive producer.
The director/writer/producer is now working on The Mist, an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel starring Thomas Jane. The horror film is due for November release. He is also scheduled to direct and script the drama/ sci-fi film Fahrenheit 451 (2007). Rumors stated that Brad Pitt was considered for the lead role.