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Frank Darabont

Fahrenheit 451 (2005) (announced)
Mission: Impossible III (2006) (pre-production)
Green Mile, The (1999)
Black Cat Run (1998)
Frankenstein (1994)
Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)
Fly II, The (1989)
Blob, The (1988)
Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A (1987)
Woman in the Room, The (1983)

A screenwriter-turned-director, Frank Darabont initially entered the film industry as production assistant and set dresser before he got a break when he sold an original screenplay (eventually produced in 1997 and aired on HBO) to producer Jere Henshaw and Apollo Pictures. The son of Hungarian refugees, he was born in a French relocation camp and raised in Chicago and Southern California. Eschewing college for a crack at a career in films, Darabont was driven by his goals. With several friends, he acquired the rights to a Stephen King short story "Woman in the Room" and fashioned a 30-minute short that eventually aired on cable outlets and was released to video. Darabont received his first screenplay credit when he helped director Chuck Russell rewrite "A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors" (1987). The film's popularity and Darabont's long-standing love of horror films led to his penning screenplays for the remake "The Blob" (1988), the sequel "The Fly II" (1989) and several episodes of TV's "Tales from the Crypt". He cut his teeth as a producer on a TV horror flick, "Buried Alive" (USA Network, 1990) and began to branch out from scary material writing for the ABC adventure series, "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" (1992).

Darabont crafted his most ambitious, adult work to date adapting another Stephen King work, the novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption". (The feature's title was shortened to "The Shawshank Redemption") Offered a healthy $2.4 million for his adaptation, he held out for the chance to direct--the result was a critically praised prison story about an unusual but powerful friendship between a level-headed banker convicted of murdering his wife and a seasoned lifer with a knack for acquisitions. The film earned seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture, and for his efforts, Darabont earned nominations from the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild and the Academy (for Best Adapted Screenplay).

Despite several projects in development, it took four years before his next film reached theaters. Darabont reportedly assisted on the screenplay for the WWII drama "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) for director Steven Spielberg, but final screen credit went to writer Robert Rodat. He returned to the director's chair to undertake the screen adaptation of another Stephen King opus, "The Green Mile" (1999), starring Tom Hanks and relative newcomer Michael Clark Duncan. Set on death row in a Louisiana prison in the 1930s, the film focused one particular prisoner with seemingly miraculous powers (Duncan) and his relationship with the other inmates as well as the senior guard (Hanks). Darabont once again proved to be the perfect adapter for King's work, crafting a script that was entirely faithful to the original. His direction stressed the relationships in the film and allowed each actor (including David Morse, Doug Hutchison, Michael Jeter and Sam Rockwell) to contribute solid performances.


  • 1983 With a group of friends, acquired the rights to a Stephen King short story, "Woman in the Room"; eventually wrote, produced and directed a 30-minute adaptation of the story which was later aired on some cable stations and released to video
  • 1984 Received credit as a set dresser on Ken Russell's "Crimes of Passion" Sold a screenplay entitled "Black Cat Run" to producer Jere Henshaw and Apollo Pictures
  • 1987 First screenplay credit, "A Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors"
  • 1990 Received a nomination for a Writers Guild of America Award for "The Ventriloquist's Dummy", an episode of the HBO horror anthology series, "Tales from the Crypt"
  • 1990 First credit as producer, the USA Network TV-movie, "Buried Alive"
  • 1992 - 1993 Wrote several episodes of the ABC adventure series, "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles"
  • 1993 Was offered $2.4 million for his screenplay adaptation of Stephen King's short story, "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" by Rob Reiner of Castle Rock Productions, with the chance to also direct another film; Darabont turned it down because he also wanted to direct the film based on his screenplay (date approximate)
  • 1994 Did screenplay rewrites for Kenneth Branagh's feature, "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein"
  • 1994 Release of feature directorial debut, "The Shawshank Redemption"; film earned seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Darabont Reportedly assisted on the scripts for the prequels to "Star Wars"
  • 1997 Had small role in the TV miniseries version of King's "The Shining", directed by Mick Garris
  • 1998 Executive produced and scripted the HBO film "Black Cat Run"
  • 1998 Reportedly worked on the script to "Saving Private Ryan", directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks; Robert Rodat, however, received sole credit
  • 1999 Returned to filmmaking at the helm of "The Green Mile", an adaptation of Stephen King's novel starring Hanks; also produced and scripted; received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Screenplay Reportedly did rewrites on the script for "Minority Report"; project put on hold and then later shot with a screenplay credited to other writers
  • 2001 Returned to filmmaking at the helm of "The Majestic", starring Jim Carrey; also co-wrote screenplay Frank Darabont did not go to college, he explains, because "it was either be a bag person sleeping in a cardboard box, or make it in the film industry" --From Premiere, October 1994
  • "If you're going to succeed, you've got to be like one of those punch-drunk fighters in the old Warner Bros. boxing pictures: too stupid to fall down, you just keep slugging and stay on your feet." --Frank Darabont in Premiere, October 1994
  • Darabont earned nominations from the DGA in both 1994 and 1999 for "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile" respectively. In both instances, he was overlooked in the Oscar category of Best Director, but received nods for Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
  • More recent articles in Professional Screenwriter Profiles


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