James Gunn (filmmaker)

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James Gunn
James Gunn - Guardians of the Galaxy premiere - July 2014 (cropped).jpg
Gunn at the Guardians of the Galaxy premiere in July 2014
Born James Gunn
Nationality American
Occupation Screenwriter, director, film producer, novelist, actor, musician
Spouse(s) Jenna Fischer (m. 2000–08)
Relatives Sean Gunn (brother)

James Gunn is an American writer, filmmaker, actor, musician and cartoonist. He is the older brother of actor Sean Gunn.

Gunn started his career mainly as a screenwriter from the late 90s to the mid-2010s, writing the scripts of Tromeo and Juliet (1996), Scooby-Doo (2002), its sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004) and the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead.

He then started to act also as director, starting with Slither in 2006. He subsequently wrote and directed the web series James Gunn's PG Porn and Super (2010). His next film Guardians of the Galaxy, based on the comic of the same name and a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is planned for an August 1, 2014 release.

Early life[edit]

Gunn was raised in St. Louis, Missouri.[1] His family includes a brother, Sean, who is an actor; and a brother, Matt, who is an actor and political writer. Though the surname Gunn is usually Scottish, Gunn's name is from the Irish name MacGilGunn meaning "Sons to the Servants of the God of the Dead".[2]


Gunn began his career in filmmaking with Troma Entertainment, for whom he wrote the independent film Tromeo and Juliet. After contributing to several other Troma films, Gunn wrote, produced and performed in his own superhero comedy, The Specials, directed by Craig Mazin and featuring Rob Lowe, Thomas Haden Church, Paget Brewster, Judy Greer and Jamie Kennedy.

Gunn's first major Hollywood screenplay was Scooby-Doo in 2002. In 2004, he wrote the screenplays for the remake of Dawn of the Dead and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. With these films, Gunn became the first screenwriter to have two films top the box office in consecutive weeks.[3] That same year, he executive produced and starred in the mockumentary LolliLove, directed by and starring his then-wife Jenna Fischer. His directorial film debut was the 2006 horror-comedy Slither. Slither was included on Rotten Tomatoes list of the 50 Best Ever Reviewed Horror Movies.[4]

Gunn's next projects included the comedy short film Humanzee! which was originally intended exclusively for the Xbox Live's Horror Meets Comedy series of short comedy films by horror directors, it was replaced with Sparky and Mikaela which debuted on Xbox Live on December 31, 2008.[5][6][7] In an April 2009 interview on The Jace Hall Show, Gunn described Sparky and Mikaela as being "about a human racoon crime fighting team and they fight crime in both the forest world, among the furry animals, and in the human world".[8] Gunn also has a short form web series for Spike.com titled James Gunn's PG Porn[9] which made EW's The Must List.[10]

In 2008, James Gunn was one of the judges on the VH1 reality television show Scream Queens where 10 unknown actresses compete for a role in the film Saw VI, where he directed contestants during acting challenges.[11]

In 2009, Gunn announced he was going to write and direct Pets, a comedy about a man who is abducted by aliens who want to turn him into a household pet with Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld and Jeremy Kramer producing.[12] However, by March 2009, Gunn announced, "PETS, unfortunately, is done. I'm gone. I left the project for various reasons. I hope it sees the light of day somehow, but it won't be with me attached as director."[13]

In 2010, Gunn released the film Super, a dark comedy and superhero satire starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page.

Outside of filmmaking and television, Gunn also penned a novel in 2000, The Toy Collector, and with Troma's President Lloyd Kaufman co-wrote All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger, about his experiences with Kaufman while working at Troma. As a musician, Gunn released one album with his band, The Icons, Mom, We Like It Here on Earth.[14] He has written music for the films The Low Life, as well as for Scooby-Doo and Scooby-Doo 2.

He also wrote the story for Grasshopper Manufacture's video game Lollipop Chainsaw.[15]

Gunn co-wrote and directed the Marvel Studios adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy which will be released on August 1, 2014.[16] His brother, Sean Gunn will have an "integral part" in the film.

Personal life[edit]

He married actress Jenna Fischer on October 7, 2000, but after seven years of marriage Gunn and Fischer announced their separation in a joint statement on September 5, 2007.[17] Fischer and Gunn divorced less than a year later.[18] Gunn has since been romantically involved with Kayo Dot violinist Mia Matsumiya[19] and model Melissa Stetten.[20]


Year Film Functioned as Notes
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
1996 Tromeo and Juliet Yes Yes Found a peanut father also associate director
2000 The Specials Yes Yes Yes Minute Man
2000 Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV Yes Doctor Flem Hocking
2002 Scooby-Doo Yes Yes
2003 The Ghouls Yes
2003 Doggie Tails, Vol. 1: Lucky's First Sleep-Over Yes Riley direct-to-video
2004 Dawn of the Dead Yes
2004 Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Yes Yes
2004 LolliLove Yes Yes James Also executive producer
uncredited as writer
2006 Slither Yes Yes Yes Hank uncredited as actor
2008–2009 James Gunn's PG Porn Yes Yes Yes Yes various roles web series
also executive producer
2010 Super Yes Yes Yes Demonswill
2012 Lollipop Chainsaw Yes video game
2013 Movie 43 Partial Partial Segment: "Beezel"
2013 Thor: The Dark World Partial uncredited as director for mid-credits scene[21]
2013 LocoCycle[22] Yes video game
2014 Guardians of the Galaxy Yes Yes


Year Title Notes
1998 All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger with Lloyd Kaufman
2000 The Toy Collector
2003 Make Your Own Damn Movie: Secrets of a Renegade Director Introduction only

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Title Result
2005 Bram Stoker Award Best Screenplay Dawn of the Dead Nominated
2006 Chainsaw Award Highest Body Count Slither Won
2007 Saturn Award The Filmmakers Showcase Award Slither Won
2014 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Director Movie 43 Won
2014 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Screenplay Movie 43 Won


  1. ^ James Gunn (September 1, 2010). "Facebook Page". Facebook. 
  2. ^ April 4, 2012. Interview. The 404 Podcast Ep. 1047
  3. ^ "Strike Let St. Louisan James Gunn Widen His Horizons". St. Louis Post Dispatch. October 24, 2008. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ "RT’s 50 Best-Reviewed Horror Movies". Rotten Tomatoes. October 24, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  5. ^ Mark Hefflinger (July 23, 2008). "Comedy Shorts from Horror Directors". Digital Media Wire. Retrieved January 3, 2009. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Xbox Live Show Sparky and Mikela". Celebrifi. October 27, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Xbox Live Marketplace – Horror Meets Comedy". Xbox Live Marketplace. December 31, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ "James Gunn & Brutal Legend". The Jace Hall Show. Season 2. Episode 5. 20089-04-16.
  9. ^ "Spike.com likes its 'Porn' PG". The Hollywood Reporter. September 19, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009. [dead link]
  10. ^ "The Must List: What's Hot for the Week of Oct. 5, 2008". Entertainment Weekly. October 5, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  11. ^ "A Search For Authenticity on the Set of 'Scream Queens' Season 2". BloodyDisgusting. 
  12. ^ Michael Fleming (September 20, 2007). "New Regency adopts 'Pets' pitch – James Gunn to write and direct comedy". Variety. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  13. ^ James Gunn (March 31, 2009). "Re: A Few Things..". Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Mom, We Like It Here on Earth by The Icons - MTV". mtv.com. January 1, 1994. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  15. ^ Johnny Cullen (August 1, 2011). "Warner to publish Grasshopper's Lollipop Chainsaw". vg247. Retrieved August 1, 2011. 
  16. ^ Lesnick, Silas (September 18, 2012). "James Gunn Confirmed to Direct and Rewrite Guardians of the Galaxy". Superherohype.com. Archived from the original on September 18, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  17. ^ Reuters (September 12, 2007). "'Office' actress Fischer, husband separate". Reuters. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Jenna Fisher Finds Love One Year After Divorce". Contact Music. September 24, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009. 
  19. ^ Jeremy Taylor (April 21, 2010). "Mia Matsumiya – Rock Violinist, Contortionist, Legal Dwarf". Asylum. 
  20. ^ August 22, 2012. Interview. Decently Funny Podcast: Stetten and Gunn Are a Lot of Fun
  21. ^ Connelly, Brendon (October 22, 2013). "Alan Taylor And Kevin Feige Express Rather Different Opinions About Thor: The Dark World’s End-Credits Tease". Bleedingcool.com. Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  22. ^ http://twistedpixelgames.com/lococycle-live-action/

External links[edit]