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Michelle MacLaren

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Michelle MacLaren
Occupation(s)Director, producer
Years active1989–present
Notable workGame of Thrones
The Walking Dead
Breaking Bad
Harsh Realm
The X-Files
Better Call Saul
RelativesAshleigh Banfield (cousin)

Michelle Maxwell MacLaren is a Canadian television director and producer. She has directed episodes of The X-Files, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and Westworld.

MacLaren won two back-to-back Primetime Emmy Awards for producing Breaking Bad in 2013 and 2014.

Early life[edit]

MacLaren grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia.[1] She graduated from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.[2] MacLaren is a cousin of television anchor Ashleigh Banfield.[3]


"I don't see myself as a female director, I see myself as a director who happens to be a woman."[4]

MacLaren made her directorial debut on the season nine episode of The X-Files, "John Doe", which was written by her future Breaking Bad collaborator Vince Gilligan. She approaches shooting action sequences as mathematical deconstruction and likes using multiple cameras and wide lenses.[4]

She was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards, all for Breaking Bad: one for directing the episode "One Minute" (season 3, episode 7) in 2010,[5] one for directing the episode "Gliding Over All" (season 5, episode 8) in 2013, and the other four in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 for Outstanding Drama Series, on which she served as an executive producer,[6] winning in 2013 and 2014. She was also nominated for three Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama for Breaking Bad, winning in 2014 and 2015. On the tenth anniversary of the premiere of Breaking Bad, io9 singled out MacLaren among the breakout directors on the series as the MVP, noting she directed 11 episodes, more than any other director.[7]

In June 2014, it was announced MacLaren had signed a two-year first-look deal with HBO.[8]

In November 2014, it was announced that MacLaren would develop the script and direct Wonder Woman, the iconic character's first solo cinematic appearance and the fourth installment of the DC Extended Universe.[9] However, in April 2015 MacLaren left the project due to "creative differences".[10][11]

She was the executive producer of and directed the pilot for David Simon's HBO drama The Deuce.[12] She was the first director hired and established the overall 1970s tone and style of the show.[4]

In August 2016, it was announced that MacLaren would direct the film adaptation of Kristin Hannah's novel The Nightingale.[13] She was attracted to the prospect of directing The Nightingale because it is a "muscular" project and the female characters are unsuspecting heroes.[4]

The same year she also directed the ninth episode of the HBO series Westworld. When the directors of the final season of Game of Thrones were announced, several prominent news sites, including Polygon and Nerdist, expressed disappointment that MacLaren, the only woman to direct on the series, was not included.[14][15]

In December 2017, MacLaren visited the Dubai International Film Festival as a guest of OSN.[16]

On January 31, 2018, MacLaren was confirmed as director for the film Cowboy Ninja Viking.[17]

She is developing a miniseries for HBO with Breaking Bad co-producer Vince Gilligan called Raven, based on the Jonestown massacre.[18]


Year Title Credit Notes
2024 Constellation Director Upcoming series
2021 Coyote Season 1, episode 1-2: "Call of the Void"/"Silver or Lead"
2019 The Morning Show Season 1, episode 8
2017–2019 The Deuce Director
Executive Producer
2 episodes
2017 Modern Family Director Season 8, episode 20
2016 Westworld Season 1, episode 9
2015–2022 Better Call Saul 3 episodes
2014 The Leftovers Season 1, episode 8
2013–2014 Game of Thrones 4 episodes
2013 Chicks 'n' Guns Director
Executive producer
Breaking Bad bonus scene
2012 The River Director Season 1, episode 6
NCIS Season 9, episode 17
2011 Hell on Wheels Season 1, episode 7
Camelot Season 1, episode 8; TV miniseries
2010–2014 The Walking Dead 3 episodes
2010 The Event Season 1, episode 9
Lie to Me Season 3, episode 3
Memphis Beat Season 1, episode 7
2009–2013 Breaking Bad Director
Executive producer
11 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2013–2014)
Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2013–2014)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (2010, 2013)
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series (2010, 2012)
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Episodic Drama (2011)
2006 Kyle XY Director Season 1, episode 6
Population 436 Feature film debut
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 7, episode 12
2005 Night Stalker Executive producer Season 1, episode 1
2003 John Doe Director Season 1, episode 11
2002 Without a Trace Season 1, episode 10
2000–2002 The X-Files Director
Co-executive producer
47 episodes
1999–2000 Harsh Realm Co-executive producer 8 episodes
1999 A Song from the Heart Writer
Executive producer
TV movie
1998 Beauty Producer
1997 A Child's Wish
1995 The Other Mother: A Moment of Truth Movie
1994 Moment of Truth: A Mother's Deception
Heart of a Child
Moment of Truth: Broken Pledges
Moment of Truth: To Walk Again
1993 Moment of Truth: A Child Too Many
For the Love of My Child: The Anissa Ayala Story
1992 Shame
The House on Sycamore Street Production manager
Diagnosis Murder
1991 Omen IV: The Awakening
K2 Second unit manager
1989–1990 Booker Production manager 22 episodes
1989 The Ranch


  1. ^ "'Breaking Bad' conclusion far from certain | Metro". Archived from the original on 2014-10-24. Retrieved 2013-09-14.
  2. ^ Gunn, Andrea. "A woman of action: Michelle MacLaren". Queen's University. Archived from the original on September 3, 2014. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  3. ^ ‘No Mas’ Trivia - Breaking Bad. Sony Pictures Television. October 1, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d "In Conversation With... Michelle MacLaren". entertainment.ie. 30 November 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  5. ^ "2010 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series". Television Academy. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  6. ^ "2010 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Drama Series". Television Academy. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  7. ^ McLevy, Alex (20 January 2018). "Breaking Bad showcased some of film and TV's most noteworthy directors". io9. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  8. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (11 June 2014). "Director Michelle MacLaren Inks HBO Deal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 27, 2014.
  9. ^ "Michelle MacLaren Signs to Develop and Direct 'Wonder Woman' Movie (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 24 November 2014.
  10. ^ Fisher, Russ (13 April 2015). "Director Michelle MacLaren Leaves 'Wonder Woman'". /Film. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (13 April 2015). "'Wonder Woman' Movie Loses Director Michelle MacLaren (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (24 September 2015). "Maggie Gyllenhaal To Topline HBO Drama Pilot 'The Deuce'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 11, 2016). "'Game of Thrones' Director Michelle MacLaren to Helm TriStar's 'The Nightingale'". Variety. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  14. ^ Alexander, Julia (26 September 2017). "Game of Thrones showunners to direct series finale as final directors announced". Polygon. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  15. ^ Lutes, Alicia. "GAME OF THRONES' FINAL SEASON DIRECTORS ANNOUNCED". Nerdist. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  16. ^ Newbould, Chris (6 January 2018). "'Breaking Bad' director Michelle MacLaren on television's technological game changer". The National AE. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  17. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 31, 2018). "Chris Pratt's 'Cowboy Ninja Viking' Taps 'Game of Thrones' Director Michelle MacLaren". Variety. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  18. ^ Bernstein, Abbie (14 October 2017). "Director Michelle MacLaren talks THE DEUCE and GAME OF THRONES – Exclusive Interview". Assignment X. Retrieved 12 February 2018.

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