Hughes brothers

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Allen and Albert Hughes
Albert (left) and Allen (right) Hughes at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International
Born (1972-04-01) April 1, 1972 (age 52)
Other namesThe Hughes brothers
Occupation(s)Film directors, producers, writers
Years active1993–present

Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes (born April 1, 1972), known together professionally as the Hughes brothers, are American film directors and producers. The pair, who are twins,[1] are known for co-directing visceral, and often violent, movies, including 1993's Menace II Society, 1995's Dead Presidents, 2001's From Hell and 2010's The Book of Eli. The brothers did most of their collaboration between 1993 and 2001. Since 2004, when Albert moved to Prague, Czech Republic, he and Allen have only directed one film together, The Book of Eli in 2010. They have been involved in directing and producing film and television projects separately since 2005.

Early lives[edit]

The Hughes brothers were born in Detroit, Michigan to an African American father, Albert Hughes, and an Armenian American mother, Aida, whose family were Iranian Armenians from Tehran.[2] Albert is the older of the twins by nine minutes;[3] although they originally believed themselves to be fraternal twins, they suspect they may be identical despite not having had a DNA test.[4] Their parents divorced when they were two years old. The twins moved with their mother to Claremont, California, east of Los Angeles, when they were nine. Their mother raised Albert and Allen alone while putting herself through school and starting her own business, a vocational center.[3] Supportive of her sons' ambitions as filmmakers, she gave them a video camera when they were 12.[5] The boys spent their free time making short films. When a teacher suggested that they make a "How To" film for an assignment, they complied with a short film, "How to Be a Burglar."[3]


After Allen had a son at the age of 18, the twins dropped out of high school and soon began working on music videos as teenagers, directing for artists like Tone Loc and Tupac Shakur.[6] Their first feature film, 1993's Menace II Society premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Centering on black, disenfranchised youth, it was made on a budget of $3.5 million when they were 20 years old. Tyger Williams wrote the screenplay, and shared story credit with the brothers. It became a critical as well as a box office success and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. Because of their previous experience in directing music videos, they became the first sibling duo since Jerry and David Zucker allowed a waiver by the Directors Guild of America to take co-credit as directors.[1]

Their second film was Dead Presidents in 1995. Dealing with the black underclass society like their feature film debut, and also starring Larenz Tate, the film centered on war veterans during the racially charged Vietnam War era. The film, which was released at the New York Critics Film Festival, failed to make as much of a profit as their first film.[3] They followed Dead Presidents with American Pimp, a feature-length documentary about the underground pimp culture and exploitation of women. It premiered at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. They had originally set out to do an adaptation of Iceberg Slim's novel Pimp, but someone else acquired the rights.[7] The brothers have stated that the film's perspective was partially shaped by being raised by their mother, who is a feminist and a lesbian.[8][9] In between projects, they filmed several anti-handgun public service announcements.[10]

In a departure from their previous material, the Hughes brothers co-directed From Hell, the 2001 film adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel of the same name about the Jack the Ripper murders in Victorian England, starring Johnny Depp and Heather Graham. Considered too violent and gory by some critics, the film had to be edited in order to avoid an NC-17 rating by the MPAA.[3] As described by the film's star, there were sometimes disagreements between the twins regarding the direction of the film.[10] For example, the amount of shown violence was a point of contention between the two; one brother thought the brutality should be shown, while the other believed implied violence would suffice.[11]

Their only film together since 2001's From Hell was the post-apocalyptic drama Book of Eli for Warner Bros., which was released in January 2010.[12]

In 2006, the brothers were announced as directing The Iceman, a film about serial killer Richard Kuklinski, but it was eventually directed by Ariel Vromen, and released in 2012. They were also slated to direct a film version of the classic TV series Kung Fu.[12][13] It was announced in 2010 that the brothers were tapped to direct a live-action adaptation of the 1988 manga Akira,[14] but they left the project in 2011.[15]

As a team, Allen typically works with the actors while Albert handles the technical aspects of their films, stemming from Albert's experience of taking classes at Los Angeles City College's film school.[1]

Solo projects[edit]

Allen Hughes[edit]

Allen directed a few episodes of the American version of the TV series Touching Evil (for which his brother was an executive producer) as well as the 2005 television feature Knights of the South Bronx.

In 2009, Allen directed a segment of New York, I Love You, starring Drea De Matteo and Bradley Cooper.[16]

Allen Hughes directed the 2013 film Broken City, a crime thriller starring Mark Wahlberg[17] and Russell Crowe.[18] He directed the four-part 2017 HBO documentary miniseries The Defiant Ones, about music producers Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre.

Albert Hughes[edit]

In 2005, it was announced that Albert would direct a feature film called Art Con, although no further news was reported on its development.[5]

In December 2012, Albert Hughes announced that he would be producing an online video series using the Crysis 3 game engine called The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3.[19]

In 2018, Albert Hughes directed his first solo feature film, Alpha. The film was written by Daniele Sebastian Wiedenhaupt, based on a story written by Hughes, and holds an approval rating of 79% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.

Personal lives[edit]

Known as much for their frank manner as for their films, the Hughes Brothers have been known to get into altercations. They took the hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur to court in 1994, after he assaulted them during a music video shoot.[20] Shakur had originally been slated to star in Menace II Society, but was replaced after the incident that apparently stemmed from Shakur's disliking the role they had chosen for him. He was later sentenced to 15 days in jail for the assault as well as another incident that occurred a day before his sentencing.[21]

The brothers have also made no secret of their use of marijuana and have previously turned down an offer to do anti-marijuana commercials.[10]

Allen has a son with singer/songwriter Stephanie "Stevvi" Alexander, Eric Alexander-Hughes. Albert has a daughter, Adrienne Hughes,[22] and has been living in the Czech Republic since 2004.[citation needed]

In a 2013 interview, Albert stated that the brothers "love each other," but are also "kind of in a weird dance right now."[23]


Year Title Directors Producers Writers Notes
1993 Menace II Society Yes Yes Story
1995 Dead Presidents Yes Yes Story
1999 American Pimp Yes Yes No Documentary
2001 From Hell Yes Executives No
2010 The Book of Eli Yes No No

Solo works[edit]

Allen Hughes

Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
2005 Knights of the South Bronx Yes No No TV movie
2008 New York, I Love You Yes No No 1 segment
2013 Broken City Yes Yes No
2017 The Defiant Ones Yes Executive Yes Documentary mini-series
2022 Dear Mama Yes Executive Yes Documentary mini-series[24]
TBA Untitled Snoop Dogg biopic Yes Yes No [25]

Albert Hughes

Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
2018 Alpha Yes Yes Story
2020 The Good Lord Bird Yes Executive No Episode "Meet the Lord"
2023 The Continental: From the World of John Wick Yes Executive No 2 episodes


  1. ^ a b c Johnson, Quendrith (July–August 1995). "Born II Direct: The Hughes Brothers Interview". 20 (3). Archived from the original on June 27, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2007. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Smith, Krista (January 15, 2010). "The Hughes Brothers on The Book of Eli, Dethroning Avatar, and Tiger Woods". Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e Wloszczyna, Susan (October 18, 2001). "The brothers Hughes". USA Today. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  4. ^ "Nine Years Later, Hughes Brothers Picture Apocalypse (audio)". NPR. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Vartanian, Hrag (April 1, 2005). "Albert Hughes Forges His Own Art". Armenian General Benevolent Union. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  6. ^ Cagle, Jess (October 22, 2001). "Blood Brothers". Time. Archived from the original on March 26, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  7. ^ "Sugar Daddies". Filmmaker Magazine. 1999. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  8. ^ Morales, Ed (April 2000). "Mack Daddy Maestros – Allen and Albert Hughes – Interview". Brant Publications, Inc. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  9. ^ "Hughes v. Hughes". Justia Law. Retrieved August 11, 2023.
  10. ^ a b c Donadoni, Serena (October 17, 2001). "Character studies: The Hughes Brothers". The Metro Times. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  11. ^ Schultz, Steve (November 16, 2001). "The Squeaky Reel: Brothers in Film". The San Francisco Gate. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  12. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (May 21, 2001). "Hughes brothers set for 'Book of Eli'". Variety. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  13. ^ Fleming, Michael (November 1, 2006). "'Kung Fu' has brotherly love". Variety. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  14. ^ Westbrook, Logan (February 10, 2010). "Akira Movie to Be Directed By Hughes Brothers". The Escapist. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  15. ^ "'Akira' Soured By Warners Lack of Taste". Bloody Disgusting. May 27, 2011.
  16. ^ Phillips, Michael (October 16, 2009). ""New York, I Love You" review: Movie stars Natalie Portman, Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie". Chicago Tribune.
  17. ^ "Mark Wahlberg Signed Onto Broken City". November 30, 2010. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  18. ^ "Russell Crowe to star opposite Mark Wahlberg in 'Broken City'". Digital Spy. August 8, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  19. ^ "Albert Hughes producing Crysis 3 video series". 3 News NZ. December 6, 2012. Archived from the original on February 22, 2013.
  20. ^ L'Official, Peter (October 13, 2004). ""And It Don't Stop" edited by Raquel Cepeda". Archived from the original on March 7, 2008. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  21. ^ Randall Sullivan, Labyrinth: A Detective Investigates the Murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G... page 80
  22. ^ "Black History Month, Albert and Allen Hughes: filmmakers". Archived from the original on June 20, 2007. Retrieved August 31, 2007.
  23. ^ Ito, Robert (January 13, 2013). "Recalibrating A Directing Brotherhood". The New York Times.
  24. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr (September 15, 2022). "Allen Hughes On TIFF Premiere Of Tupac Shakur Docuseries Dear Mama; How Filmmaker Confronts Own Beat Down At Hands Of Tupac & Entourage Onscreen". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Media Corporation.
  25. ^ Kit, Borys (November 9, 2022). "Snoop Dogg Biopic in the Works at Universal With Director Allen Hughes and 'Wakanda Forever' Writer Joe Robert Cole". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 9, 2022. Retrieved November 9, 2022.

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