David Ayer

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David Ayer
David Ayer by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Ayer at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1968-01-18) January 18, 1968 (age 55)
  • Film director
  • film producer
  • screenwriter
Years active2000–present
Mireya Ayer
(m. 2002)
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1986–1988

David Ayer (born January 18 , 1968) is an American filmmaker known for making crime films that are set in Los Angeles and deal with gangs and police corruption. His screenplays include Training Day (2001), The Fast and the Furious (2001), and S.W.A.T. (2003). He has also directed Harsh Times (2005), Street Kings (2008), End of Watch (2012), and Sabotage (2014). In 2016, he directed the superhero film Suicide Squad from the DC Extended Universe, and then the urban fantasy film Bright (2017) for Netflix. He has twice collaborated with actor Shia LaBeouf: first with the World War II drama Fury (2014), then the crime thriller The Tax Collector (2020). He has also collaborated with his friend Cle Shaheed Sloan who has appeared in four of his films.

Early life[edit]

Ayer was born in Champaign, Illinois, on January 18, 1968, and grew up in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Bethesda, Maryland, where he was kicked out of his house by his parents as a teenager.[1] Ayer lived with his cousin in Los Angeles, California, where his experiences in South Central Los Angeles became the inspiration for many of his films.[2] Ayer dropped out of high school and painted houses for a living.[3] Ayer enlisted in the United States Navy as a submarine sonar technician (STS) aboard the USS Haddo (SSN-604)[4][5]


Ayer's screenplay, U-571 was based on his experiences as a submariner in the US Navy. Ayer collaborated on the screenplay for The Fast and the Furious in 2001. Ayer wrote the screenplay for crime drama Dark Blue, and it was his research into the Los Angeles Police Department that led to his most prominent screenplay, Training Day. Ayer signed a contract to write a screenplay for S.W.A.T., which was based on his original story pitch. The film was directed by Clark Johnson and released in 2003.

In 2006, screenwriter David Ayer admitted that U-571 had distorted history, and said that he would not do it again.[6] He told BBC Radio 4's The Film Programme that he "did not feel good" about suggesting that Americans, rather than the British, had captured the naval Enigma cipher: "It was a distortion ... a mercenary decision ... to create this parallel history in order to drive the film for an American audience. Both my grandparents were officers in the Second World War, and I would be personally offended if somebody distorted their achievements."[7]

Ayer's directorial debut was with the film Harsh Times, an action-drama set on the streets of South Central Los Angeles, showing how drug use and past military experiences affects people's attempts to lead normal lives. He went on to direct the action thriller Street Kings, which was released in 2008.

Ayer later wrote and directed End of Watch, an action thriller about the daily lives of two South Central Los Angeles policemen, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña. The film was released in the fall of 2012 to profitable box-office returns and favorable reception from critics, with Roger Ebert naming it as the fourth-best film of 2012, hailing it as "one of the best police movies in recent years".[8] His next film was the action thriller Sabotage, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger; the film was released on March 28, 2014. He wrote and directed the World War II-set action film, Fury, starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman; the film was released in October 2014.[9]

Ayer wrote and directed the film adaptation of the comic book Suicide Squad, which was released on August 5, 2016. The film, along with Ayer's directing, received negative reviews, though it became his most commercially successful film to date.[10]

Ayer also directed Bright, "a contemporary cop thriller, but with fantastical elements", starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton with a script penned by Max Landis that Ayer rewrote.[11][12] Netflix picked up the film for a $90 million deal.[13] The film was released on December 22, 2017. On January 3, 2018, Netflix confirmed they were moving ahead with the sequel for Bright, with Smith and Edgerton reprising their roles and Ayer directing and writing the script with Evan Spiliotopoulos, the filming of which began in March 2019.[14] This ultimately did not happen due to Will Smith's schedule, and on May 5, 2020, he was replaced with Louise Leterrier as David Ayer wanted to focus on The Dirty Dozen for Warner Brothers.[15]

On December 13, 2016, Ayer was brought on board to direct the spin-off of Suicide Squad, Gotham City Sirens, which evolved into Birds of Prey, directed by Cathy Yan,[16] and starring Margot Robbie reprising her role of Harley Quinn.[17] Gotham City Sirens remained in development, but as of April 2021, Gotham City Sirens has been put on pause.[18]

He was also contracted by Universal Pictures to direct a remake of Scarface starring Diego Luna, but was let go because his script was too violent.[19]

Ayer established Cedar Park Entertainment on January 4, 2018, with former head of programming at Audience Network, Chris Long. Primarily established to produce films and television shows, the first film Cedar Park produced was 2020's The Tax Collector, Ayer's second collaboration with actor Shia LaBeouf.[20][21] On June 21, 2018, it set a first look deal with Entertainment One, and it will cover television series, both scripted and unscripted.[22]

In May 2022, Ayer signed on to direct action thriller The Beekeeper for Miramax, written by Kurt Wimmer and starring Jason Statham, with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer later acquiring domestic distribution rights.[23][24]



Year Title Director Writer Producer
2000 U-571 No Yes No
2001 Training Day No Yes Co-producer
The Fast and the Furious No Yes No
2002 Dark Blue No Yes No
2003 S.W.A.T. No Yes No
2005 Harsh Times Yes Yes Yes
2008 Street Kings Yes No No
2012 End of Watch Yes Yes Yes
2014 Sabotage Yes Yes Yes
Fury Yes Yes Yes
2016 Suicide Squad Yes Yes No
2017 Bright Yes No Yes
2020 The Tax Collector Yes Yes Yes
TBA The Beekeeper Yes No No

Cameo roles

Year Title Role
2001 Training Day Russian mafia hitman
2008 Street Kings Gang member prisoner in L.A. County Jail
2016 Suicide Squad Belle Reve prison guard (Extended Cut)


Year Title Director Executive
2020 Deputy Yes Yes Episodes "Graduation Day" and "10-8 Outlaws"

Other roles[edit]

Year Title Role
2001 Training Day Stunts
2004 Taking Lives Uncredited script revisions
2008 HBO First Look Special production footage
2020 Birds of Prey Executive producer
2021 The Suicide Squad Special thanks


  1. ^ Simon, Jeff. "David Ayer's bumpy and brilliant road to Fury". The Buffalo News. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  2. ^ Carbone, Nick (September 21, 2012). "'End of Watch' Director David Ayer on Reinventing the Cop Genre". Time. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  3. ^ Cabin, Chris (January 22, 2017). "David Ayer Pens Message About 'Suicide Squad' Reception & The Joker's Role". Collider.
  4. ^ Barnes, Henry (October 16, 2014). "David Ayer: 'There's something maternal about the tank in Fury'". The Guardian. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  5. ^ Gettell, Oliver (September 19, 2012). "David Ayer writes his own rules for the cop genre in 'End of Watch'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  6. ^ "U-571 writer regrets 'distortion'". August 18, 2006.
  7. ^ "U-571". August 28, 2012.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 19, 2012). "End of Watch". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  9. ^ Lesnick, Silas (May 1, 2013). "Logan Lerman Enlists for Fury". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
  10. ^ "David Ayer Movie Box Office Results". boxofficemojo.com.
  11. ^ Goldberg, Matt (March 2, 2016). "Will Smith and David Ayer Reteam for Bright with Joel Edgerton". Collider.
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 3, 2016). "Will Smith, David Ayer Reteaming on Max Landis Spec 'Bright'". Variety.
  13. ^ Goldberg, Matt (March 18, 2016). "Netflix Makes Mammoth Deal for David Ayer's 'Bright' Starring Will Smith". Collider.com.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 3, 2018). "Netflix Firms 'Bright' Sequel With Will Smith". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  15. ^ "Louis Leterrier Making Netflix Deal to Direct Will Smith & Joel Edgerton in 'Bright 2'". May 5, 2020.
  16. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 17, 2018). "Cathy Yan Is Warner Bros' Choice To Direct Margot Robbie in Next Harley Quinn Film". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on April 17, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  17. ^ "David Ayer, Margot Robbie Reteam on Female DC Villains Movie".
  18. ^ "DC's Gotham City Sirens Movie on Hold Says Director". January 8, 2020.
  19. ^ "Universal's 'Scarface' Reboot Loses Director David Ayer (Exclusive) | Hollywood Reporter". hollywoodreporter.com. July 12, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  20. ^ Holloway, Daniel (January 4, 2018). "Chris Long, David Ayer Launch Indie Studio Cedar Park Entertainment". Variety. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  21. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (June 21, 2018). "David Ayer Sets Gritty LA Crime Thriller 'Tax Collector;' Shia LaBeouf, Bobby Soto Star For Cross Creek". Deadline. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  22. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (June 21, 2018). "David Ayer and Chris Long's Cedar Park Sets First-Look Deal With eOne". Variety. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  23. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (May 5, 2022). "'Suicide Squad' Filmmaker David Ayer To Direct Jason Statham In Miramax's Action Pic 'The Beekeeper' — Cannes Market Hot Package". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 18, 2022.
  24. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (August 31, 2022). "Jason Statham-David Ayer Action Pic 'The Beekeeper' Pre-Bought By MGM For U.S. & Some Of International". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 18, 2022.

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