Beau Willimon

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Beau Willimon
Pack Beauregard Willimon

(1977-10-26) October 26, 1977 (age 46)
EducationColumbia University (BA, MFA)
Juilliard School (GrDip)
Occupation(s)Playwright, screenwriter, producer
TitlePresident of the Writers Guild of America, East

Pack Beauregard Willimon[1] (born October 26, 1977) is an American playwright and screenwriter. He helped develop the American version of the series House of Cards and served as showrunner for the first four seasons. In 2018, Willimon created the drama series The First for Hulu, about the first crewed mission to Mars.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Beau Willimon was born in Alexandria, Virginia,[3] to Nancy and Henry Pack Willimon.[4] His father was a captain[4] in the United States Navy and the family moved frequently.[5] Willimon lived in Hawaii, San Francisco, California,[6] and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before settling in St. Louis, Missouri,[1] after Willimon's father retired to become a lawyer.[1]

Willimon attended John Burroughs School, where he took drama classes taught by Jon Hamm[7][8] and graduated in 1995. He majored in history and visual arts and received a BA from Columbia University in 1999.[9][10][11] When he was an undergraduate, he met Jay Carson.[9][12] In 1998, he worked as a volunteer and intern for the Senate campaign of Charles Schumer, which led to jobs with Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, Bill Bradley's 2000 presidential campaign, and Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign.[13] After graduating, he worked for the ministry of the interior for the Estonian government in Tallinn as part of a fellowship,[5] during which he sorted through and wrote summaries of thousands of pages of E.U.-related documents.[1] Shortly after, he moved to Vietnam to work for a small cultural magazine,[5] and there did research for his first screenplay, based on the life of Tomas Vu, a visual arts professor at Columbia who grew up in Vietnam during the war.[9]

He returned to New York to attend Columbia's School of the Arts. One of his mentors was playwright Eduardo Machado.[6][9] Willimon said, "I was the worst student by far in our group. A lot of these people had known they wanted to be playwrights forever. I didn't know a soul in the theater world, and I didn't have the faintest idea how to truly write a play. But I quit drinking then and really committed myself to this path."[1] During graduate school, he received a visual arts scholarship for a proposal to create 40 lithographs about paranoia, and lived in South Africa for a year.[5] After receiving an MFA in Playwriting from the School of the Arts in 2003, he worked in odd jobs, including gallery and painter's assistant, set builder, finding jobs for the homeless,[12] barista, and an instructor teaching SAT prep classes. He also did an internship with New Dramatists.[6][9][12]

Willimon subsequently enrolled at the Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program, receiving both the Lila Acheson Wallace Juilliard Playwriting Fellowship and the Lincoln Center Le Compte du Nuoy Award.[14]


At Juilliard, he wrote a play, Farragut North, that was inspired by his experience as press aide for Dean's 2004 campaign for President.[6][9] In fall 2008, it premiered off Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company in a production starring John Gallagher Jr., Chris Noth, and Olivia Thirlby.[15] The production received a Los Angeles run the following summer, with Chris Pine in the starring role. Concurrently it received a production at the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University in July 2009.[16] Willimon was nominated in 2009 for the John Gassner Award by the Outer Critics Circle.[17]

Other plays include Lower Ninth, produced in 2007 by the SPF and The Flea Theater in 2008;[18] Zusammenbruch, produced in 2008 at the American Airlines Theater and directed by Thomas Kail;[19] Spirit Control, produced in 2010 by the Manhattan Theatre Club;[20] The Parisian Woman, produced in 2013 by South Coast Repertory;[21] and Breathing Time, produced in 2014 by Fault Line Theater.[22]

Willimon's work has also been developed and performed at MCC Theater, Ars Nova, HERE Arts Center, the Phoenix Theatre, the Actors Theater of Chicago, Battersea Arts Centre in London, Cherry Lane Theatre, and the South Coast Repertory.[14]

A film adaption of Farragut North, retitled The Ides of March, premiered in October 2011. The movie was directed by George Clooney; the script was written by Willimon, Clooney and his producing partner, Grant Heslov. It starred Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and Jeffrey Wright. The film was nominated in 2012 for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and for four Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture – Drama and Best Screenplay.

In September 2017, Willimon was elected for a two-year term as President of the Writers Guild of America, East, running unopposed.[23] He was re-elected without opposition in 2019.[24]

Hulu gave a straight-to-series order to The First in May 2017 (co-produced with Channel 4). It debuted in 2018, but was not renewed for a second season.[25] The show portrays members of a team of astronauts as they become the first humans to visit Mars.

In 2019, as WGA-E President, Willimon oversaw the negotiating committee for the "WGA-Agency Agreement", and joined other WGA members in firing his agents as part of the guild's stand against the ATA after the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on a new "Code of Conduct" that addressed the practice of packaging.[26] In 2021, he signed a first look deal with Entertainment One.[27]

House of Cards[edit]

In 2012, Willimon developed House of Cards, the American adaption of the BBC series of the same name, for Netflix. It was produced by Media Rights Capital, David Fincher, and Kevin Spacey, and for five seasons starred Spacey as ruthless politician Frank Underwood and Robin Wright as his equally scheming wife Claire. The series also stars Kate Mara, Corey Stoll, Michael Kelly, Neve Campbell, Michel Gill, Jayne Atkinson, Sebastian Arcelus and Lars Mikkelsen. It premiered on Netflix on February 1, 2013.

Willimon served as the series' showrunner for its first four seasons, stepping down in January 2016.[28] House of Cards premiered its sixth and final season on November 2, 2018.[29]

On November 3, 2017, Netflix fired Spacey from House of Cards and cut all ties with the actor following several allegations of sexual misconduct. Several crew members on the House of Cards set accused Spacey of sexually harassing them.[30] When the accusations first surfaced in late October of that year, Willimon released a statement saying, "During the time I worked with Kevin Spacey on House of Cards, I neither witnessed nor was aware of any inappropriate behavior on set or off".[31] However, three House of Cards crew members have disputed that assertion, commenting anonymously in a Buzzfeed News article that Willimon was aware of Spacey's behavior, including an incident during the show's first season in which Spacey allegedly sexually assaulted a production assistant, and took no action against the actor.[32][33] A "higher-level source" for the article alleged that Willimon witnessed Spacey behaving inappropriately.[32] Willimon denied witnessing or knowing about the alleged assault, but said, “I am heartsick that anyone on the crew had to endure this sort of behavior. Clearly we as an industry, particularly those in a position of power, myself included, need to be more perceptive and proactive. We also need to do a better job at empowering and supporting our colleagues who come forward.”[34]



Year Title Role Notes
2011 The Ides of March Co-screenwriter, co-producer
2013 A Master Builder Executive producer
2018 Mary Queen of Scots Screenwriter


Year Title Role Notes
2008 Farragut North Writer
2008 Lower Ninth Writer
2008 Zusammenbruch Writer As part of The 24 Hour Plays Off Broadway
2010 Spirit Control Writer
2013 The Parisian Woman Writer
2014 Breathing Time Writer

Television series[edit]


Year Show Season Episode Episode number Original airdate Notes
2013 House of Cards 1 "Chapter 1" 1 February 1, 2013
"Chapter 2" 2 February 1, 2013
"Chapter 3" 3 February 1, 2013 Written by Willimon & Keith Huff
"Chapter 4" 4 February 1, 2013 Written by Willimon & Rick Cleveland
"Chapter 7" 7 February 1, 2013 Written by Willimon & Kate Barnow
"Chapter 8" 8 February 1, 2013
"Chapter 9" 9 February 1, 2013 Written by Willimon & Rick Cleveland
"Chapter 11" 11 February 1, 2013 Written by Willimon, Keith Huff, & Kate Barnow
"Chapter 12" 12 February 1, 2013 Written by Willimon & Gina Gionfriddo
"Chapter 13" 13 February 1, 2013
2014 2 "Chapter 14" 1 February 14, 2014
"Chapter 15" 2 February 14, 2014
"Chapter 16" 3 February 14, 2014
"Chapter 17" 4 February 14, 2014
"Chapter 22" 9 February 14, 2014
"Chapter 23" 10 February 14, 2014 Written by Willimon & Laura Eason
"Chapter 24" 11 February 14, 2014 Written by Willimon & John Mankiewicz
"Chapter 25" 12 February 14, 2014
"Chapter 26" 13 February 14, 2014
2015 3 "Chapter 27" 1 February 27, 2015
"Chapter 33" 7 February 27, 2015
"Chapter 38" 12 February 27, 2015
"Chapter 39" 13 February 27, 2015
2016 4 "Chapter 40" 1 March 4, 2016
"Chapter 52" 13 March 4, 2016
2018 The First 1 "Separation" 1 September 14, 2018
"What's Needed" 2 September 14, 2018
2022 Andor 1 "Narkina 5" 8 October 26, 2022
"Nobody's Listening!" 9 November 2, 2022
"One Way Out" 10 November 9, 2022


Year Association Category Project Result Ref.
2011 Academy Award Best Adapted Screenplay The Ides of March Nominated
2011 BAFTA Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
2011 Golden Globe Award Best Screenplay Nominated
2013 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series House of Cards Nominated
2014 Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
2015 Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
2016 Nominated
2023 Andor Pending

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sternbergh, Adam (January 31, 2014). "The Post-Hope Politics of 'House of Cards'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  2. ^ "The First (TV Series 2018-)". IMDB.
  3. ^ Willimon, Beau (June 2, 2013). "Look kids, this is where I was born - Alexandria, VA...on the banks of the Potomac, a stone's throw from D.C." Twitter. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Peterson, Deb (January 24, 2012). "Oscar nominee Beau Willimon grew up in St. Louis". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Rothman, Lily (February 13, 2014). "House of Cards Creator Beau Willimon Talks Season 2 and His Surprising Influences". Time. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d Wallenberg, Christopher (April 25, 2010). "A political drama with powerful ambitions". Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  7. ^ Willimon, Beau (February 23, 2013). "Was just at a JBS reunion event. Yes, I went to high school with Jon Hamm. We were in "Stage Door" together". Twitter. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  8. ^ "Biography - Beau Willimon". Columbia University. Archived from the original on February 22, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Beau Willimon on the Ides of March". Columbia University Entertainment. March 10, 2014. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  10. ^ ""HOUSE OF CARDS" COMES TO COLUMBIA: AN EVENING WITH BEAU WILLIMON CC'99, SOA'03". Columbia College Today. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  11. ^ Grobar, Matt (2019-01-08). "Beau Willimon Rewrites The Narrative Of 'Mary Queen Of Scots,' As Well As His Own". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-01-21.
  12. ^ a b c Thompson, Anne (June 27, 2013). "EMMY WATCH: Willimon Talks Fincher's 'House of Cards,' Last-Minute Corey Stoll Rewrites". Indie Wire. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  13. ^ Erickson, Amanda (May 1, 2009). "Beau Willimon '99 Brings Politics Alive on Stage". Columbia College Today. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Biography Beau Willimon - Playwright, Lower Ninth (2007)". Summer Play Festival. Retrieved November 9, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Dorment, Richard (December 12, 2008). "The Most Promising Young Playwright in America". Esquire. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  16. ^ Contemporary American Theater Festival. "History & Archives". Retrieved 22 July 2015
  17. ^ Gans, Andrew (April 20, 2009). "Billy Elliot and Shrek Top Outer Critics Circle Awards Nominations". Playbill. Archived from the original on March 6, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  18. ^ James, Caryn (March 6, 2008). "Where Men Are Stranded". The New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  19. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (November 18, 2008). "Lights out on the 24 Hour Plays". Time Out New York. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  20. ^ Isherwood, Charles (October 26, 2010). "Four Seven Whiskey, We've Got a Problem: A Controller's Life in a Tailspin". The New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  21. ^ Ng, David (January 4, 2013). "Beau Willimon's 'The Parisian Woman' to premiere in Orange County". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  22. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (March 28, 2014). "Coping Simply With Life Until Ordinary Disappears". The New York Times. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  23. ^ McNary, Dave (September 19, 2017). "Beau Willimon Elected WGA East President". Variety. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  24. ^ McNary, Dave (September 19, 2019). "Beau Willimon Re-Elected as President of Writers Guild of America East". Variety. Retrieved September 19, 2019.
  25. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (3 May 2017). "Hulu Orders 'Marvel's Runaways' & Beau Willimon's 'The First' To Series". Deadline. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  26. ^ "WGA: More Than 7,000 Writers Have Fired Their Agents". Deadline.
  27. ^ White, Peter (2021-01-11). "Beau Willimon Adapting Hasbro Board Game 'Risk' As TV Series As Part Of New First-Look Deal With eOne". Deadline. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  28. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (January 28, 2016). "'House of Cards' Renewed for Fifth Season, Showrunner Beau Willimon Exits". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  29. ^ Corinthios, Aurelie (August 7, 2018). "House of Cards: Netflix Announces Premiere Date for Final Season Starring Robin Wright". People. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  30. ^ Melas, Chloe (November 3, 2017). "'House of Cards' employees allege sexual harassment, assault by Kevin Spacey". CNN. Atlanta, Georgia. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  31. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (October 30, 2017). "'House of Cards' Showrunner Beau Willimon Calls Kevin Spacey Allegations 'Deeply Troubling'". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  32. ^ a b Aurthur, Kate (November 6, 2017). "Kevin Spacey's Behavior On The Set Of "House Of Cards" Wasn't A Secret". Buzzfeed News. New York City: BuzzFeed Entertainment Group. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  33. ^ Nordine, Michael (November 6, 2017). "'House of Cards' Crew Members Say Creator Beau Willimon Knew About Kevin Spacey Accusations". IndieWire. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  34. ^ Patten, Dominic (November 2, 2017). "Beau Willimon Says He Wasn't Told About Kevin Spacey 'House Of Cards' "Incident"". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 6, 2018.

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