Curtis Hanson

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For other people named Curtis Hanson, see Curtis Hanson (disambiguation).
Curtis Hanson
Curtis Hanson by David Shankbone.jpg
Hanson in May 2007
Born Curtis Lee Hanson
(1945-03-24) March 24, 1945 (age 71)
Reno, Nevada, U.S.
Occupation Film director, producer and screenwriter
Years active 1970–present

Curtis Lee Hanson (born March 24, 1945) is an American film director, film producer and screenwriter. His directing work includes the psychological thriller The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), the neo-noir crime film L.A. Confidential (1997), the comedy Wonder Boys (2000), the hip hop drama 8 Mile (2002), and the romantic comedy-drama In Her Shoes (2005).

Hanson won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1997, for co-writing L.A. Confidential alongside Brian Helgeland.

Early life[edit]

Hanson was born in Reno, Nevada and grew up in Los Angeles, the son of Beverly June (Curtis), a real estate agent, and Wilbur Hale "Bill" Hanson, a teacher.[1][2][3] Hanson dropped out of high school, finding work as a freelance photographer and editor for Cinema magazine.[4]

Film career[edit]

In 1970, Hanson co-wrote The Dunwich Horror, an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story. Hanson wrote and directed his next feature Sweet Kill in 1973, then in 1978 wrote and produced The Silent Partner, starring Elliott Gould and Christopher Plummer. As the 1980s and 1990s began, he directed a string of comedies and dramas. He did thrillers, too: many of them would deal with people who would lose a sense of control or security when facing danger and the threat of death. Some, like the financial executive in Bad Influence and the police officers in L.A. Confidential unexpectedly walk into violence and disaster.

In the 1990s Hanson found box-office success with The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and The River Wild, and significant critical acclaim with L.A. Confidential, an adaptation of the James Ellroy novel. The film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, and won 2, for Best Adapted Screenplay, a credit Hanson shared with Brian Helgeland, and Best Supporting Actress (Kim Basinger). Hanson's later works include In Her Shoes, Wonder Boys, 8 Mile, and Lucky You.

Hanson claims to be heavily influenced by Alfred Hitchcock and Nicholas Ray. He previously stated that Ray's film In a Lonely Place was among many that he watched in preparation for the filming of L.A. Confidential.[5] In 8 Mile, Kim Basinger's character is watching Elia Kazan's Pinky on television, a film about a mixed race girl passing as white - an homage to the themes of racial mixing and boundary crossing that are features of most of Hanson's work.

Hanson's 2011 film was Too Big to Fail, based on the 2009 Andrew Ross Sorkin book of the same name about the early rounds of the financial crisis of 2007–2010. The HBO film featured an all-star cast, including William Hurt as Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson and Cynthia Nixon as his liaison to the press; James Woods as Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers; and Paul Giamatti as Ben Bernanke.[6]

Hanson resides in Southern California.


Title Year Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer Other
The Dunwich Horror 1970 Yes
Sweet Kill 1973 Yes Yes Yes
The Silent Partner 1978 Yes
The Little Dragons 1980 Yes Yes
White Dog 1982 Yes
Losin' It 1983 Yes
Never Cry Wolf Yes
The Children of Times Square 1986 Yes Yes Television film
The Bedroom Window 1987 Yes Yes
Evil Town Yes Credited as Edward Collins
Bad Influence 1990 Yes
The Hand that Rocks the Cradle 1992 Yes
The River Wild 1994 Yes
L.A. Confidential 1997 Yes Yes Yes
Wonder Boys 2000 Yes Yes
8 Mile 2002 Yes Yes
Greg the Bunny Yes Episode: "Piddler on the Roof"
Adaptation Yes Role: Orlean's Husband
In Her Shoes 2005 Yes Yes
Lucky You 2007 Yes Yes Yes
Three Rivers 2010 Yes Executive producer,
episode: "Win-Loss"
Too Big to Fail 2011 Yes Yes Television film;
executive producer
The Big Year Yes
Chasing Mavericks 2012 Yes Yes Co-directed with Michael Apted


  1. ^ "* Wilbur (Bill) Hanson; Educator". Los Angeles Times. February 16, 1994. 
  2. ^ "Survival Lesson For 'River' Director". The New York Times. October 5, 1994. 
  3. ^ Kappa Delta Sorority (1941). Angelos. ISSN 1064-5837. Retrieved 2014-10-25. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ A Dark Lesson in Trust
  6. ^ "Too Big To Fail": The story behind HBO's movie", interview with Curtis Hanson, Marketplace (radio program), May 23, 2011.

External links[edit]