Jonathan Hensleigh

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Jonathan Hensleigh
Jonathan Blair Hensleigh

(1959-02-13) February 13, 1959 (age 59)
Alma materUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst (1981)
Tulane University Law School (J.D.)
OccupationWriter, producer, director
Gale Anne Hurd (m. 1995)

Jonathan Blair Hensleigh (born February 13, 1959) is an American screenwriter and film director, working primarily in the action-adventure genre, best known for writing films such as Jumanji, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Armageddon, as well as making his own directorial debut with the 2004 comic book action film The Punisher.

Early life[edit]

Hensleigh graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1981 with a degree in history.[1] He attended the University of Virginia School of Law, received his J.D. from Tulane University Law School, and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1985. Before moving into writing, he worked as an attorney for several years. At the age of 31 Hensleigh began writing scripts and screen plays. He had previously written a novel and a three-act stage play but did not go to film school.[2]

Movie career[edit]

Hensleigh's start in the entertainment industry came writing episodes of the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He received his first film credit in 1993's A Far Off Place, for which he wrote an early version of the script.[3] His next two projects were Die Hard with a Vengeance and Jumanji, both of which were released in 1995. The Die Hard sequel was based on a spec script Hensleigh had originally conceived as a Brandon Lee action film before the actor's death, with the working title Simon Says. The script was considered for the fourth installment of the Lethal Weapon series before being picked up for Die Hard.

Hensleigh participated in writing for The Rock, which became the subject of a dispute with the Writers Guild of America. In this case, the spec script (by David Weisberg and Douglas Cook) was reworked by several writers, but other than the original team, Mark Rosner was the only one granted official credit by guild arbitration. The rule is that the credited writing team must contribute 50% of the final script (effectively limiting credits to the screenplay's initial authors, plus one re-write team). Despite their work on the script, neither Hensleigh nor Aaron Sorkin was credited in the film. The director Michael Bay wrote an open letter of protest, in which he criticized the arbitration procedure as a "sham" and a "travesty". He said Hensleigh had worked closely with him on the movie and should have received screen credit.[4]

Hensleigh worked with Bay again on the 1998 disaster film Armageddon, and officially received credit for the screenplay. He helped rewrite scripts for the Jerry Bruckheimer projects, Con Air (1997) and Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), receiving executive producer credit for those. (This credits someone whose work on the film would otherwise go unacknowledged).

Hensleigh made his debut as a director with The Punisher in 2004, with the assistance of his wife, veteran Hollywood producer Gale Anne Hurd. He co-wrote the script with Michael France, based on the Marvel Comics character The Punisher. Working on a tight schedule and with a relatively small budget, Hensleigh made a violent but restrained action movie that would be questionable to the spirit of the character.[5]

Other movie credits include

At one point, he was set to write and direct Hulk, working on pre-production of that film for a year before pulling out. Some unrealized projects Hensleigh has worked on include a Gemini Man film and sequels to Jumanji and The Punisher. As of October 3, 2008, Hensleigh is developing the series Red Mars, which is based on the novel of the same name for AMC.[6]

In 2011, Hensleigh wrote and directed Kill the Irishman, based on the book To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia, about the Cleveland mobster Danny Greene who was active in the 1960 and 1970s.[7]



Year Film Director Writer Producer Notes
1993 A Far Off Place Yes
1995 Die Hard with a Vengeance Yes
Jumanji Yes
1996 The Rock Yes Script doctor
1997 Con Air Yes Yes
The Saint Yes
1998 Armageddon Yes Yes
1999 Virus Yes Script doctor
2000 Gone in 60 Seconds Yes Yes
2004 The Punisher Yes Yes Also soundtrack producer
2007 Next Yes
Welcome to the Jungle Yes Yes Also cinematographer; Direct-to-video
2011 Kill the Irishman Yes Yes
2019 Gemini Man Yes

TV Series[edit]

Year Name Role
1992–95 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles Writer 5 episodes:
  • S01E04: Verdun, September 1916 (1992)
  • S02E02: Somme, Early August 1916 (1992)
  • S02E03: Germany, Mid-August 1916 (1992)
  • S02E15: Benares, January 1910 (1993)
  • S02E22: Transylvania, January 1918 (1995, in Germany)


  1. ^ Carey, Mary. "True to their school". UMass Magazine, Winter 1999.
  2. ^ Needles, Tim. "Director Jonathan Hensleigh and Ray Stevenson on Kill the Irishman". Short and Sweet NYC. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  3. ^ Marx, Andy. "Just Far Away: An Adventure in Adventureland". Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1992, p. 24.
  4. ^ Welkos, Robert W. "'Cable,' 'Rock' in Disputes on Writing Credits". Los Angeles Times, May 21, 1996, p. 1.
  5. ^ Olsen, Mark. "Just call him 'The Punisher'", Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2004, p. E8.
  6. ^ AMC Plans Mars Mission
  7. ^ "Ray Stevenson Is The Irishman", EmpireOnline

External links[edit]