Andrew Davis (director)
Director Andrew Davis
November 21, 1946 |
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Occupation||Film director, producer|
Andrew Davis (born November 21, 1946) is an American film director, producer, writer and cinematographer who is known for directing a number of successful action thrillers including Code of Silence, Above the Law, Under Siege and The Fugitive.
Davis was born on the south side of Chicago, Illinois, and has directed several films using Chicago as a backdrop. He is the son of actor Nathan Davis and Metta Davis and the brother of musician Richard "Richie" Peter Davis (co-founder of the cover band Chicago Catz) and Jo Ellen Friedman. Davis used his actor father Nathan Davis to fill out many character roles throughout the years. Notably as the grandfather to Shia Lebeouf’s character in the Disney film, Holes.
After attending the Harand Camp of the Theater Arts summer camp program and Bowen High School. Davis went on to study journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he was issued a degree in journalism in 1968. It was not long before his interest in civil rights and anti-war issues converged with his growing interest in film-making. Davis was mentored by acclaimed cinematographer Haskell Wexler with whom he worked on Medium Cool and began his film career as a cameraman on blaxploitation films like The Hit Man, Cool Breeze and The Slams in the 1970s.
Wexler and Davis recently reunited to discuss the film before a screening at the Pollock Theater on the campus of the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Davis is best known as a big budget Hollywood filmmaker. His film The Fugitive starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones received seven Academy Award nominations including the best picture category in 1993. Jones received a nomination and won for best supporting actor that year, which is still his only Oscar win to date. The academy ultimately gave the 1993 best picture award to Schindler's List. That year Davis was also honored with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director by the Hollywood Foreign Press. The Directors Guild of America nominated him for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Theatrical Direction.
Roger Ebert reviewed The Fugitive in 1993, he begins his review with, "Andrew Davis' "The Fugitive" is one of the best entertainments of the year, a tense, taut and expert thriller that becomes something more than that, an allegory about an innocent man in a world prepared to crush him." ...with regards to Davis Ebert made this observation, “transcends genre and shows an ability to marry action and artistry that deserves comparison with Hitchcock, David Lean, and Carol Reed. He paints with bold, visual strokes.”
His first feature film as a director was the 1978 semi-biographical picture Stony Island. The film had a theatrical release in 1978 and was eventually released on DVD on April 24, 2012. Stony Island centered around young musicians forming a band in there impoverished south side neighborhood. The film stars veteran musicians like saxophone player Gene Barge and soul singer Ronnie Barron as well as relative newcomers like Dennis Franz and Edward "Stony" Robinson. Roger Ebert describes the movie in a 2012 article, "The energy, I gather, came in large part from the performers themselves. The movie is more or less based on fact; the director and co-writer, Andy Davis, has a brother who was the last white kid on the block down on Stony Island, and actually was involved in a band something like the one in the movie."
In 1981 Davis directed a slasher flick titled The Final Terror, which was released in 1983. The film was produced by Joe Roth and features several early performances from stars like Rachel Ward, Daryl Hannah, and Joe Pantoliano among others.
Davis co-wrote a screenplay for a Harry Belafonte project “Beat Street” which was a rap musical featuring breakdancing and the street music culture of early eighties New York City. Mike Medavoy and Orion Pictures tapped Davis to direct the Chuck Norris vehicle, Code of Silence. Off that success in 1988 Davis developed for Warner Brothers a film titled Above the Law. Davis co-wrote, produced and directed the film which is most notable for the feature film Debut of Steven Seagal. Davis then went back to Orion with his project The Package, working with Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones.
Davis brought Jones with him to his next project, which was originally titled Dreadnaught but eventually carried the title Under Siege. In the picture Davis re-teams with Seagal to create the top grossing fall film of 1992.
Davis continued directing big budget adventures throughout the nineties including The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. Steal Big Steal Little featuring Alan Arkin and Andy Garcia in a dual role playing opposite himself as twin brothers. Chain Reaction with Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman and Rachel Weisz. A Perfect Murder, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Douglas, and Viggo Mortensen.
2000s to present
In the fall of 2001, Davis was set to release Warner Brother's Collateral Damage starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The initial release date was pushed in an effort to be sensitive to the tragedies of 9/11. The film's plot and content too closely echoed the tragedy. The film was finally released theatrically in 2002.
In 2003 Davis developed Holes for the Walt Disney Company starring Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, and a sideburned Jon Voight. Louis Sachar and Davis developed the script based on Sachar’s Newberry Medal and National Book Award-winning children's novel. A.O. Scott’s review in The New York Times called it "the best film released by an American studio so far this year". 
Davis filmed the Disney/Touchstone feature film, The Guardian in 2006. The film focuses on the Rescue Swimmers of the U.S. Coast Guard and stars Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. Costner plays a legendary rescue swimmer who returns to the training facility to bring up the next generation of swimmers, in this case played by Kutcher. Production was halted when the film's New Orleans location was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The real life Coast Guard advisers on the film were immediately deployed to rescue victims of the storm.
Upcoming and announced projects
Most recently Davis is known to be developing a contemporary film version of Treasure Island through his production company Chicago Pacific Entertainment. The working title is Thieves Fortune, a modern retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The film will be set in Louisiana. Davis is quoted describing the project as, "I'm currently putting together a modern version of Treasure Island set in post Katrina Louisiana called Thieves Fortune. It's the treasure of Jean LaFitte and I think it could be a really interesting, fun movie that could be about something and still be very entertaining." 
- 1978: Stony Island
- 1982: The Final Terror
- 1985: Code of Silence
- 1988: Above the Law
- 1989: The Package
- 1992: Under Siege
- 1993: The Fugitive
- 1995: Steal Big Steal Little
- 1996: Chain Reaction
- 1998: A Perfect Murder
- 2002: Collateral Damage
- 2003: Holes
- 2006: The Guardian
- Weinraub, Bernard (October 26, 1992). "The Talk of Hollywood; Director Who Blends Action With a Bit of Art". The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
- Kagan, Jeremy (2000-04-26). Directors Close Up. USA: Focal Press. p. 223. ISBN 0240804066.
- Spence, D. (April 17, 2003). "An Interview with Andrew Davis". IGN. Archived from the original on March 17, 2007. Retrieved March 24, 2007.
- Flores, Gilberto. "'Medium Cool' Revisited". The Bottom Line. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- "Don Quixote" Meets "Tom Jones" (October 12th 2006)
- Ebert, Roger. "The Fugitive". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Bey, Lee. "Revisiting 'Stony Island': Soulful 1970s Chicago cult film hits the streets again". Chicago Public Media. Retrieved May 3, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger. "Stony Island". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
- Ebert, Roger. "Collateral Damage". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Scott, A. O. "Holes (2003) Holes (2003) FILM REVIEW; Not Just for Children, a Suspenseful Allegory of Greed, Fate and Racism". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- Gallagher, Brian. "'The Fugitive' Director Andrew Davis Planning 'Treasure Island' Remake". WATCHR Media. Retrieved 26 February 2014.