Rob Cohen

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This article is about the film director. For other people with the same name, see Rob Cohen (disambiguation).
Rob Cohen
US Navy 040618-N-6817C-090 Director Rob Cohen visits with Commanding Officer, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Capt. Kendall L. Card, on the bridge after the completion of filming, the upcoming motion picture Stealth (cropped).JPG
Cohen on the bridge of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in 2004
Born Robert Cohen
(1949-03-12) March 12, 1949 (age 67)
Cornwall, New York, United States
Alma mater Harvard University
Occupation Film director, producer, actor, screenwriter
Years active 1975–present

Rob Cohen is an American film director, producer and screenwriter.

One of the 1970s “baby moguls”, he built a thriving career as a producer, before concentrating full-time on directing from the 1990s, with high adrenaline action blockbusters such as xXx and Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. He is the creator of The Fast and the Furious, Universal Pictures’ biggest franchise of all time.

Early life[edit]

Born on March 12, 1949 in Cornwall, New York, USA. He attended Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in the class of ’71 [1], concentrating in a cross major between anthropology and visual studies,. His first endeavor in filmmaking was a commissioned recruiting film for Harvard’s Admissions Office in 1970, which became his senior thesis.

Upon graduation, Cohen immediately headed to Los Angeles to work as a screenwriter for Martin Jurow (producer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s), but soon found himself unemployed when the producer moved out of state.

After a six-month stint as a kennel boy at the Harvey Animal Hospital in West Hollywood to make ends meet, Cohen landed a job as a reader for then-agent Mike Medavoy. Six weeks into his tenure at International Famous Agency (now part of ICM), he distinguished himself by discovering an unheralded script he found in a slush pile of neglected screenplays. Recognizing its quality, commerciality and uniqueness, Cohen wrote in his coverage that it was "the great American screenplay and this will make an award-winning, major-cast, major-director film"[1]. He championed the piece relentlessly, with his own job at stake, as Medavoy said that he would try to sell it on that recommendation, but promising to fire Cohen if he could not. Universal bought it that afternoon for a record price, and it became the Academy Award winning movie, The Sting (1973). Cohen still keeps the coverage framed on the wall of his office, as this gave him his first identity in Hollywood: “the kid who found “The Sting”’ [2] Offers from other studios soon followed.

Film career[edit]


With a career in film and television spanning more than 40 years, Cohen has distinguished him self as a celebrated screenwriter, producer and director. In 1973, 20th Century Fox Television hired Cohen as ‘Head of Current Programming’ helping out with, among other shows, the first year of the epic hit, M*A*S*H. Eager to push Fox into ‘long form’, Cohen cold called the head of ABC and introduced himself as ‘the head of television movies at Fox’. Barry Diller gave him a meeting where he sold two TV films on the spot, properties he had found in the voluminous books of Fox’s unproduced properties. A week later, he duplicated the feat at CBS under Philip Barry. Fox president, William Edwin Self, was not happy that a junior employee had garnered these commitments without permission but grudgingly gave Cohen the title Vice President of TV Movies.[3] At only 23, he had earned his first real position.

Impressed by the young man’s drive, Diller recommended him to his friend impresario, songwriter, producer and record label founder Berry Gordy who was looking to bring his company Motown into the film business. He and Gordy connected in a deep and exciting way and he was hired to be the Executive Vice President and head of Motown's motion picture division [4].

Cohen went to work and developed the first Motown movie from his own idea about the burgeoning phenomenon of African American Super Models he felt was perfect for Motown star Diana Ross. He sold the package to Paramount and in 1974, the cameras rolled on Mahogany in Chicago and Rome. At the same time, he developed a unique film from the Bill Brashler novel The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) starring Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor. To direct, he hired a then unknown TV director John Badham to make his feature debut, a critical hit set in the1930s Negro National League (1920–31) (Twenty years later, he and Badham would partner again to make a number of successful films at Universal Studios).

Departing Motown in 1978, Cohen went on to produce and direct some of the most iconic films and television series of the 1980s, including Miami Vice, The Witches of Eastwick, Ironweed, and The Wiz.


From 1990 onwards, Cohen moved into directing full-time. Much success followed with early 90’s hits such as Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Dragonheart, Daylight, and the Golden Globe award winning film The Rat Pack.

At 52, Cohen had become a hit action director of youth films, creating and directing his biggest film to date, the 2001 blockbuster, The Fast and The Furious.

The film was as much a revolution as anything else opening with $40 million its first weekend [5], starring relative unknowns Paul Walker and Vin Diesel. Although he decided not to direct any of the sequels, there is no doubt it was Cohen’s first Fast film that gave birth to the long running, lucrative franchise.

With the enormous success of Fast, he partnered up with Vin Diesel again the following year to direct yet another box office hit, xXx, spawning Cohen’s second film franchise to come about in two years.

In 2008, he directed the third installment of The Mummy, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, grossing $405million world-wide [6], and Blumhouse Production’s The Boy Next Door starring Jennifer Lopez, which went on to gross 12 times it’s budget.

Cohen is also an accomplished commercials director, housed at Original Film, having made over 150 television commercials for products such Disney’s Star Wars, Verizon, Ford, GM, Mercedes, Chevy, Saab and Burger King among many others.

Personal life[edit]

Rob Cohen aka Rob Cashulin, his original family name, is the father of four children, Kyle, 29, by is third wife and his triplets, Zoe, Sean and Jasi, 8, by his fourth wife Barbara. An avid surfer, Cohen has homes in Bali, Indonesia, and Malibu, California. He currently resides in Sofia, Bulgaria and London, England where he is making his new film "RIDERS ON THE STORM". Cohen lives with his girlfriend Roma Dal Molin Taylor, a documentary producer.[citation needed]


As director[edit]

As producer[edit]

As writer[edit]


External links[edit]