John Fusco

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John Fusco is an American screenwriter, producer, and TV series creator born in Prospect, Connecticut. His screenplays include Crossroads, Young Guns, Young Guns II, Thunderheart, Hidalgo, and the Oscar-nominated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.

Fusco is also a martial artist and a prose fiction writer.


John Fusco was raised in the small town of Prospect, Connecticut, leaving home and high school early to travel the American south as a blues musician and blue collar laborer. He would later attend and graduate from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where his writing mentors were Waldo Salt, Ring Lardner, Jr., and Lorenzo Semple. He won back-to-back honors in national screenwriting competitions his junior and senior year, twice winning the top prize of a Nissan Sentra and a contract with the William Morris Agency. His bachelor's thesis became the Columbia Pictures Delta blues movie Crossroads (1986) , directed by Walter Hill, and went into production while he was still a student at NYU.

Fusco has gone on to write eleven major motion-pictures, an ABC mini-series, a long-form TV Series, and two novels. He is best-known today as the creator of the popular Netflix Original Series Marco Polo.

Martial Arts[edit]

While known for Western and Native American themed films, Fusco recently drew on his lifelong background in martial arts to write The Forbidden Kingdom, starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan. The movie opened #1 at the box office on April 18, 2008 and broke opening day box office records (at that time) in China.

Fusco first studied Martial Arts at age 12 at the Association Of Korean Martial Arts (A.K.M.A) in Oakville, Connecticut under Romaine Staples and currently holds a black sash rank in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu. He is also a practitioner of Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do, and has received an honorary black belt from the World Tang Soo Do Association for his work in promoting traditional martial arts values in film, television, and literature. He has been profiled in Black Belt Magazine, Inside Kung Fu, and Kung Fu/Tai Chi Magazine.

Fusco has also studied traditional martial arts in Zhejiang Province, China under Sifu Yi ShenGuo.

Martial arts legend Jet Li is quoted, in February 2007, as saying:

[John Fusco] is a good friend of mine and we have been sparring partners for the past three years. He is a superb screenwriter and has been learning Chinese martial arts for many years.

Fusco has stated in DVD special features that he is interested in the spiritual aspects of warrior cultures and acknowledges a "red thread" that runs through his interests in both Native American and Eastern philosophy. In 2007 he crossed Central Mongolia on horseback with his son, and Mongol nomads to conduct research on what would eventually develop into Marco Polo.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Fusco is married to Richela Renkun, a graduate of NYU's Steinhardt School and an educator in the theater arts. They have one son, Giovanni. The family divides their time between New York City, Arizona, and a farm in Vermont.


  • 1983 — FOCUS Award, First place: Blues Water
  • 1984 — FOCUS Award, First Place: Crossroads
  • 1988 — WRANGLER Award—Western Heritage Center: Young Guns
  • 2000 — WRANGLER Award—Western Heritage Center: Spirit
  • 2003 — THE HUMANITARIAN AWARD—First Americans in the Arts: Dreamkeeper mini-series
  • 2004 — Spur AwardWestern Writers of America: Hidalgo

Current projects[edit]

According to Deadline Hollywood, February 17, 2011, he is currently adapting the acclaimed Peter Guralnick book Last Train to Memphis for Fox 2000. He is also the creator of the original TV series Marco Polo for Netflix.[2] The series was canceled in July 2016, lasting for only two seasons. [3]

In the first entry on his new blog it mentions several other upcoming projects:

Along with the TV series [Marco Polo], I have several movies going into production: "Last Train to Memphis" directed by Kevin MacDonald and produced by Mick Jagger. "The Highwaymen" directed by John Lee Hancock and starring Liam Neeson and Woody Harrelson. "The Alchemist" produced by Harvey Weinstein, and the sequel to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" helmed by legendary action director Master Yuen Woo-Ping. That one begins shooting in China and New Zealand in May.

— John Fusco, 2014: From Venice to Xanadu, Screenwriter's Personal Blog, Jan 7th

Fusco has also written the screenplay for the Lionsgate film The Shack which premiered on March 3, 2017. The film was a modest hit, grossing $52 million against a $20 million budget. But, the film has received negative reviews from critics, but was reviewed positively with audiences.[4]

He is currently at work adapting the book series "Spirit Animals" for Universal Pictures.


Title Year Role
Crossroads 1986 Writer
Young Guns 1988 Writer, executive producer
Young Guns II 1990 Writer, executive producer, actor: Branded Man
Thunderheart 1992 Writer, executive producer
The Babe
Where the Rivers Flow North 1993 Associate producer
Loch Ness 1996 Writer
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron 2002
Dreamkeeper 2003 Writer, associate producer
Hidalgo 2004 Writer
America's First Horse: Hidalgo and the Spanish Mustang Executive producer
Silent Thunder 2006 Associate producer
The Forbidden Kingdom 2008 Writer
Marco Polo 2014-2016 Creator, executive producer, writer
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny 2016 Writer
The Shack 2017

Prose fiction[edit]

Fusco is a critically acclaimed author of two novels and an award-winning children's book:

  • Paradise Salvage (Overlook Press, 2002), mystery and literary novel, LCCN 2001-51356
  • Dog Beach: a novel (Simon & Schuster, 2014) – featuring a "struggling screenwriter" and a "stuntman turned mafia enforcer", LCCN 2013-49875
  • Little Monk and the Mantis: a bug, a boy, and the birth of a kung fu legend, illus. Patrick Lugo (Tuttle Publ., 2012), young readers book – "based on the seventeenth-century legend of Wong Long and the founding of praying mantis kung fu", LCCN 2011-43962


  1. ^ "For Marco Polo creator John Fusco, Netflix offered a chance to trash the rules". December 14, 2014. Retrieved December 17, 2014. 
  2. ^ "It’s Official: Netflix Orders Series ‘Marco Polo’ From Weinstein Co.". January 14, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  3. ^ "'Marco Polo' Canceled at Netflix After Two Seasons". Retrieved 1 April 2017. 
  4. ^ "The Shack (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 1, 2017. 

External links[edit]