John Michael McDonagh

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John Michael McDonagh
John Michael McDonagh (Berlin Film Festival 2011).jpg
John Michael McDonagh at the Berlinale 2011
Born Elephant and Castle, London, England
Occupation Screenwriter, film director
Notable works The Guard (2011), Calvary (2014), War on Everyone (2016)

John Michael McDonagh is an English/Irish screenwriter and film director.[1] He wrote and directed The Guard (2011) and Calvary (2014), both films starring Brendan Gleeson.[2] He was born in London in 1967.[3] He is the older brother of playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh.[4]


McDonagh made his first foray into writing and directing with The Second Death, a short film released in 2000. Next McDonagh adapted Robert Drewe's 1991 novel Our Sunshine into the screenplay for the 2003 film Ned Kelly, which was directed by Gregor Jordan.

McDonagh gained considerable attention in 2011, with the theatrical release of his feature film directorial debut The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. The film received critical acclaim, with a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes,[5] and went on to become the most financially successful independent Irish film of all time.[6]

In 2014, McDonagh released Calvary, a blackly comic Irish drama about a good priest tormented by his community. Brendan Gleeson plays the main character.[7]

McDonagh returned to the crime comedy genre for his 2016 feature, War on Everyone, which stars Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña as a pair of intractable Albuquerque police detectives.[8]


Future projects[edit]

Most recently McDonagh told The Hollywood Reporter "I’m currently working on Assumption, my adaptation of the book by the great Percival Everett, about a black deputy sheriff in New Mexico," the British filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter [9]

In 2014 McDonagh said his follow-up to Calvary would be The Lame Shall Enter First, his third feature with Brendan Gleeson. The film follows a paraplegic ex-policeman in London who has developed a hatred for able-bodied people and who gets caught up in a new investigation after one of his friends is murdered. He has stated that it will be the "final one in the trilogy" and will be "an amalgamation of The Guard and Calvary".[10]

In 2011 McDonagh discussed developing other projects. One was War on Everyone which had its world premiere at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival. Another was The Bonnot Gang, a period gangster film based on the true story of a group of French anarchist bank robbers who operated before World War I". McDonagh has described this film as "a cross between The Wild Bunch and Le Samourai." And another was Chaos Inc, a television series about a Buddhist private investigator based in Las Vegas.[11]


  1. ^ Mottram, James (7 August 2011). "John Michael McDonagh interview". London: The Independent. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly & Aidan Gillen Join Brendan Gl | The Playlist". Retrieved 2015-11-09. 
  3. ^ Cineurope: John Michael McDonagh
  4. ^ Wise, Damon (2012-01-14). "The Guard's John Michael McDonagh on success, roadkill and good priests". the Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  5. ^ "The Guard". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  6. ^ "'The Guard' Topples 'Barley' to Become #1 Indie Irish Film". IFTN. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (9 February 2012). "Protagonist To Proffer John Michael McDonagh's 'Calvary': Berlin". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Debruge, Peter (2016-02-12). "Berlin Film Review: 'War on Everyone'". Variety. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 
  9. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Bateman, Conor (5 June 2014). "'Calvary' – An Interview with Writer/Director John Michael McDonagh". 4:3. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Lyttleton, Oliver (21 October 2011). "'The Guard' Writer/Director John Michael McDonagh Reteaming With Brendan Gleeson For Drama 'Calvary'". The Playlist. Retrieved 10 April 2012.