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Stephen Gaghan (born May 6, 1965) is an American screenwriter and director. He is noted for writing the screenplay for Steven Soderbergh's film Traffic, based on a Channel 4 series, for which he won the Academy Award, as well as Syriana which he wrote and directed.
Childhood and education
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of the former Elizabeth Jane Whorton and her first husband, Stephen Gaghan (d. 1980), and a stepson of Tom Haag, Gaghan attended Kentucky Country Day School, a college preparatory school in Louisville. He was an All-State soccer player where he held the assist record at the school for nearly three decades. He is a grandson of Jerry Gaghan, a newspaper columnist and drama critic for Variety and the Philadelphia Daily News, whose career inspired Gaghan's own professional pursuits.[not in citation given] As he wrote in a 2001 article in Newsweek, "I also wanted to be a writer, like my grandfather, who carried a card in his wallet that read, "If you find me, call my son [my father] at this number..."[dead link]
In his final days of high school before graduation, Gaghan was expelled for driving a go-cart through the halls of the school. During the release of Traffic, a critic commented on one of the teen characters in the movie who is a drug addict and a straight-A student, calling it unrealistic, which Gaghan defended by stating that he had straight A's while he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. As Gaghan wrote in an article published in Newsweek in February 2001, "I wasn't much different from my peers, except where they could stop drinking after three or six or 10 drinks, I couldn't stop and wouldn't stop until I had progressed through marijuana, cocaine, heroin and, finally, crack and freebase--which seem for so many people to be the last stop on the elevator." Gaghan has stated that he began dealing with his addictions in 1997. "Over one long, five-day weekend, I had three separate heroin dealers get arrested," he said. "My dealer, my backup dealer and my backup-backup dealer. I was left alone, and I just hit that place, that total incomprehensible demoralization. That was the end of it; up five days straight, locked in the bathroom, convinced there was nowhere else to go, I had to kill myself, I'm going to kill myself. I just couldn't take another minute of it."[dead link]
He attended the University of Kentucky and was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity.[dead link] He attended Babson College in Massachusetts.[not in citation given] He also started a catalog company, Fallen Empire Inc., which he hoped would support his writing career.
Gaghan wrote the screenplay for Traffic, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2000. In addition to Traffic, Gaghan has also directed and written the screenplays for Syriana (2005) and Abandon (2002), the former receiving comparable critical acclaim to Traffic, while the latter turned out to be a total fiasco. Other writing credits include Havoc (2005), The Alamo (2004) and Rules of Engagement (2000), as well as a handful of episodes of various television series. Gaghan turned down the chance to adapt Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code.
In his television writing career, he won an Emmy Award for co-writing a NYPD Blue episode entitled Where's Swaldo, in 1997. In addition to NYPD Blue, he has also written for The Practice and New York Undercover. As a filmmaker, Gaghan is generally regarded as one of the two precursors of the style known as hyperlink cinema, along with the Alejandro González Iñarritu/Guillermo Arriaga writer-director team of Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. Most especially, Syriana's convoluted narrative, which mimics the confusion and lack of information of the characters yet manages to capture the complexity and feel of being in its particular milieu, is considered a prime example of the hyperlink film. Gaghan played himself in the Entourage season 4 premiere "Welcome to the Jungle".
His next project is a film adaptation of Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. He has also been hired by Warner Bros. to write the screenplay of the Dead Spy Running franchise written by author Jon Stock. He is also set to direct crime thriller Candy Store.
Gaghan has a son Gardner (b. 1999) and daughter Elizabeth (b. 2001) from a previous relationship with actress Michael McCraine. On May 19, 2007, Gaghan married Marion "Minnie" Mortimer; they have a daughter together (b. Feb. 2, 2009).
- New York Undercover (1995) TV series
- American Gothic (1995 - 1996) TV series
- NYPD Blue (1996) TV series
- The Practice (1997) TV series
- Sleepwalkers (1997) TV series (unknown episodes)
- Rules of Engagement (2000) Film
- Traffic (2000) Film
- Abandon (2002) Film
- The Alamo (2004) Film
- Havoc (2005) Film
- Syriana (2005) Film
- Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) Video game
- The Henry Rollins Show
- Film '72
- Sunday Morning Shootout
- The Charlie Rose Show
- The Big Story
- HBO First Look
- Hollywood High (2003) (TV) .... Himself
- The 73rd Academy Awards
- Inside Traffic: The Making of Traffic
Awards and nominations
- George Skinner, a Broadcast Pioneer
- Gaghan, Stephen (2001). "The Enemy is Every One of Us". Newsweek.[dead link]
- Screenwriter Drew on Own Experience to Write Traffic[dead link]
- Delta Tau Delta[dead link]
- Lyman, Rick (February 5, 2001). "The Screenwriter for 'Traffic' Says He Drew on His Past of Drug Use". The New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
- "Stephen Gaghan set to adapt 'Dead Spy'". Hollywood Reporter. 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
- "Jason Clarke And Omar Sy To Star In Stephen Gaghan Thriller ‘Candy Store’". deadline.com. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
- Minnie Mortimer. "Minnie Mortimer". Guest of a Guest. Retrieved November 15, 2012.