Christopher McQuarrie

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Christopher McQuarrie
Christopher McQuarrie (2).jpg
McQuarrie in 2012
Born 1968 (age 45–46)
Princeton Junction, New Jersey
Occupation Screenwriter, film producer, director

Christopher McQuarrie (born 1968) is an American screenwriter, director and producer. A regular collaborator of director Bryan Singer, he co-wrote the screenplay of Singer's Public Access, wrote the screenplay for The Usual Suspects, co-wrote and produced Valkyrie and co-wrote Jack the Giant Slayer and Edge of Tomorrow. McQuarrie won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Usual Suspects. His greatest commercial success was The Tourist, co-written by McQuarrie which grossed US$ 278 million worldwide.[1]

As a director, McQuarrie wrote and directed The Way of the Gun and Jack Reacher. He is planned to direct Mission Impossible 5, his fourth collaboration with actor and producer Tom Cruise after Valkyrie, Jack Reacher and Edge of Tomorrow.

He is also the creator of the short-lived TV series Persons Unknown.

Early life[edit]

McQuarrie was raised in the Princeton Junction section of West Windsor Township, New Jersey, and attended West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South with director Bryan Singer, actor Ethan Hawke and a musician, James Murphy.[2] McQuarried worked as an assistant at Christ Church Grammar School in Perth, Western Australia, and at a detective agency. In 1992, schoolmate Singer offered him the opportunity to co-write Public Access with him and Michael Feit Dougan.


Public Access[edit]

In 1992, McQuarrie co-wrote with director Bryan Singer the thriller Public Access. Despite mainly negative reviews,[3] it won the Critics Award at the Deauville American Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize. The film did not secure a theatrical distributor.[4]

The Usual Suspects[edit]

Three years later, Singer and McQuarrie collaborated again on the 1995 film The Usual Suspects, for which McQuarrie received best screenplay awards from Premiere magazine, The Texas Board of Review, and the Chicago Critics as well as the Edgar Award, The Independent Spirit Award, and the British and American Academy Awards. The film was later included on the New York Times list of the 1000 greatest films ever made, and the character Verbal Kint was included on AFI's list of the 100 greatest Heroes and Villains of all time. In 2006, the Writers Guild of America voted The Usual Suspects No. 35 on their list of 101 Greatest Screenplays.

The Way of the Gun[edit]

Five years later, in 2000, Artisan Entertainment released The Way of the Gun, a modern-day Western written and directed by McQuarrie. It starred Benicio del Toro, Ryan Phillippe, and James Caan. The film received mainly negative reviews [5] and performed poorly at the box office, grossing US$ 13 million worldwide off a reported US$ 21 million budget.[6]


Eight years later, McQuarrie co-wrote and co-produced Valkyrie, which opened on December 25, 2008. The story is based on the real-life July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The script was co-written with Nathan Alexander. The pair had access to members of the Stauffenberg family as well as a book written by Fabian von Schlabrendorff – a conspirator who survived.[7] While doing research for the screenplay, they also spoke with Hitler's bodyguard. In an interview,[8] McQuarrie talked about how the plot succeeded in one key respect; despite the conspirators' obvious failure to kill Hitler, one of their objectives was also for history to reflect that they tried so the world would know that not all of Germany or its military was sympathetic to Hitler. The film stars Tom Cruise and is directed by Bryan Singer. It received two awards, the BMI Film Music Award and the Bambi Award for "Courage".

The Tourist[edit]

In 2010, McQuarrie co-wrote his most successful film to date, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. The film grossed US$ 278 million worldwide.[9] It received 3 Golden Globe Award nominations and several other awards, among them the Redbox Movie Award for the most rented drama of 2011.

Jack Reacher[edit]

In 2012, McQuarrie directed Jack Reacher, an adaptation of One Shot, the 9th in the series of 19 Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. Paramount Pictures released the film.[10]

Tom Cruise played Jack Reacher amidst criticism from fans claiming that he was too short to play the part of a character described to be 6'5" with a 50" chest.[11] In an interview with the BBC, Lee Child stated that even though he was much shorter than the Jack Reacher from the novels, he still felt Cruise had the talent and presence to make an effective Reacher.[12]

Filming began in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area on October 3, 2011, and continued through the end of January 2012. The film was released in December 2012.[13] It won the BMI Film Music Award, and was nominated for 3 Golden Trailer Awards.

Jack the Giant Slayer[edit]

2013 saw the release of McQuarrie's fourth collaboration with Bryan Singer: Jack the Giant Slayer, co-written by McQuarrie. The film was a box office flop, grossing only US$ 198 million off an estimated US$ 240 million budget (excluding promotional fees).[14] Reviews were generally negative.[15]

Mission: Impossible 5[edit]

McQuarrie will reteam with Cruise for the fifth Mission: Impossible film.[16][17]



Writer only[edit]


  • NYPD Blue (1994) – Writer (1 episode)
  • The Underworld (1997) – Writer
  • Persons Unknown (2010) – Creator/Executive producer


  • McQuarrie, Christopher (1996). "The Usual Suspects". Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-19153-3.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Miller, Lynn. "More West Windsor Filmmaking Stars on the Horizon", West Windsor & Plainsboro News, December 15, 2007. Accessed December 15, 2007. "Two West Windsor-Plainsboro High School graduates are following in the footsteps of two other filmmakers from West Windsor, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie. Singer, Class of 1984, and McQuarrie, Class of 1986, have recently joined together for the filming of "Valkyrie,” a film about Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the German Army officer who tried to do away with the Hitler."
  3. ^
  4. ^ Stax (December 9, 2002). "Featured Filmmaker: Bryan Singer". IGN. Retrieved March 28, 2010. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Christopher McQuarrie: Valkyrie". December 24, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2008. .
  8. ^ "Christopher McQuarrie: Valkyrie". December 24, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2008. .
  9. ^
  10. ^ "One Shot Information Page". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved July 23, 20119. 
  11. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. (June 13, 2011). "Tom Cruise Mulling Offer to Take on Jack Reacher in 'One Shot". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Author Lee Child wins top crime award". British Broadcasting Corporation. July 22, 2011. Retrieved July 23, 2011. 
  13. ^ Falk, Joshua (September 9, 2011). "Tom Cruise movie 'One Shot' confirmed for Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
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  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^ [2]

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