James Gunn

Last updated on 19 October 2017

James Gunn (born August 5)[n 1] is an American screenwriter, director, producer, novelist, actor, and musician. He started his career as a screenwriter in the mid-1990s, writing the scripts for Tromeo and Juliet (1996), Scooby-Doo (2002) and its sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), and the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead. He then started working also as a director, starting with Slither (2006). He subsequently wrote and directed the web series PG Porn, and the superhero films Super (2010), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017).

James Gunn by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
James Gunn by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg

Early life

Gunn was born in St. Louis, Missouri.[1] He was raised between St. Louis and Manchester, Missouri.[4][5] His brothers are actor Sean, actor and political writer Matt, screenwriter Brian,[6] and former Senior Vice President with Artisan Entertainment Patrick.[7] He also has a sister named Beth.[8] Their parents are Leota[9] and James F. Gunn, an attorney.[3] Gunn's surname is derived from the Irish name MacGilGunn, meaning "sons to the servants of the god of the dead".[10]

Growing up, Gunn was influenced by low-budget films such as Night of the Living Dead and Friday the 13th. He read magazines like Fangoria and attended genre movie screenings, including the original Dawn of the Dead at the Tivoli Theatre in St. Louis. At the age of 12, he began making 8 mm zombie films with his brothers in the woods near their home.[11]

Gunn and his brothers all attended the Jesuit St. Louis University High School, where he graduated in 1984.[2][3] He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Louis University.[12] While at Saint Louis University, Gunn created political cartoons for the school's student weekly, The University News.[13] Gunn said that, at an unspecified time in his college education, "I went to two years undergraduate film school at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. But I was pretty screwed up at the time, and had to leave. Years later I went to graduate school at the Columbia University School of Fine Arts but I studied prose writing, not film writing."[14] He earned a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University in 1995.[15]

Career

Music

While living in St. Louis, Gunn started a band, The Icons, in 1989, serving as lead vocalist. The group released the album Mom, We Like It Here on Earth in 1994, and its songs "Sunday" and "Walking Naked" were featured in the film Tromeo and Juliet. The Icons disbanded in the mid-1990s. Gunn has continued to work in music, composing songs for Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, and Movie 43.

Film and television

Gunn began his career in filmmaking with Troma Entertainment in 1995, for which he wrote the independent film Tromeo and Juliet. Working alongside his mentor Lloyd Kaufman, the co-founder of Troma, Gunn learned how to write screenplays, produce films, scout locations, direct actors, distribute films, and create his own poster art.[11] After contributing to several other Troma films, Gunn in 2000 wrote, produced and performed in the superhero comedy The Specials, directed by Craig Mazin and featuring Rob Lowe, Thomas Haden Church, Paget Brewster, Judy Greer and Jamie Kennedy.

Gunn's first major Hollywood screenplay was Scooby-Doo in 2002. In 2004, he wrote the screenplays for the remake of Dawn of the Dead and the sequel Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. With these films, Gunn became the first screenwriter to have two films top the box office in consecutive weeks.[16] That same year, he executive produced and starred in the mockumentary LolliLove, directed by and starring his then-wife Jenna Fischer. His film directorial debut was the 2006 horror-comedy Slither, which was included on Rotten Tomatoes' list of the 50 Best Ever Reviewed Horror Movies.[17]

Gunn's next projects included the comedy short film "Humanzee!" which was originally intended exclusively for the Xbox Live's Horror Meets Comedy series of short comedy films by horror directors, it was replaced with "Sparky and Mikaela" which debuted on Xbox Live on December 31, 2008.[18] In an April 2009 interview on The Jace Hall Show, Gunn described "Sparky and Mikaela" as being "about a human [and] racoon crime fighting team and they fight crime in both the forest world, among the furry animals, and in the human world".[19] Gunn also has a short-form web series for Spike.com titled James Gunn's PG Porn.

In 2008, Gunn was a judge on the VH1 reality television show, Scream Queens where 10 unknown actresses compete for a role in the film Saw VI, where he directed contestants during acting challenges.[20]

In 2009, Gunn announced he was going to write and direct Pets, a comedy about a man who is abducted by aliens who want to turn him into a household pet, with Ben Stiller, Stuart Cornfeld and Jeremy Kramer producing.[21] However, by March 2009, Gunn announced, "Pets unfortunately, is done. I'm gone. I left the project for various reasons. I hope it sees the light of day somehow, but it won't be with me attached as director."[22]

In 2010, Gunn released the film Super, a dark comedy and superhero satire starring Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page.

Gunn co-wrote and directed the Marvel Studios adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy, which was released on August 1, 2014.[23] His brother Sean Gunn has a role in the film. Gunn has appeared as an actor, mostly in smaller roles or uncredited appearances in his own projects.

After Dan Gilroy and Jack Black separately lamented the proliferation of movies based on comic books,[24] Gunn responded in a Facebook post, saying in part:

[P]opular fare in any medium has always been snubbed by the self-appointed elite. ... What bothers me slightly is that many people assume because you make big films that you put less love, care, and thought into them then people do who make independent films or who make what are considered more serious Hollywood films. ... If you think people who make superhero movies are dumb, come out and say we're dumb. But if you, as an independent filmmaker or a 'serious' filmmaker, think you put more love into your characters than the Russo Brothers do Captain America, or Joss Whedon does the Hulk, or I do a talking raccoon, you are simply mistaken.[25]

Gunn wrote and produced the horror film The Belko Experiment, which was released in 2017.[26] In 2016, he directed three Stan Lee cameo scenes in one day, for the film Doctor Strange and two unrevealed projects.[27][28][29]

Gunn wrote and directed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017).[30][31][32] In April 2017, Gunn confirmed he will return to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.[33]

Other media

Gunn wrote a novel in 2000, The Toy Collector, a story of a hospital orderly who steals drugs from the hospital which he sells to help keep his toy collection habit alive. In 1998, he and Troma's President Lloyd Kaufman co-wrote All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger, about his experiences with Kaufman while working at Troma.

He also wrote the story for Grasshopper Manufacture's video game Lollipop Chainsaw.[34]

Personal life

Gunn married actress Jenna Fischer on October 7, 2000, in an event that Gunn's hometown paper said was officiated by Lloyd Kaufman,[3] but which Gunn later clarified had not been: “They said I was married by Lloyd Kaufman, which is not true. He was at my wedding and he gave a speech.”[29] The two had originally met in the St. Louis area through Gunn's brother Sean, who had acted in plays alongside Fischer in high school.[11] After seven years of marriage, Gunn and Fischer announced their separation in a joint statement on September 5, 2007.[35] In 2010 Fischer helped Gunn with casting Rainn Wilson, her co-star on The Office, in Gunn's film Super.[11]

As of late 2015, Gunn is in a relationship with actress Jennifer Holland.[36]

Gunn was raised in a Catholic home, but has said that he is "in some ways, antireligion",[37] although he later clarified,

My personal take is that there is a role for spirituality in some people’s lives and I think that a belief in God can be a good thing for a great amount of people. I do not like any sort of faith or religion that is based on exclusivity, meaning any sort of religion that says you’re damned to hell or you’re not going to be saved because you don’t believe the same thing I do. I believe faith and spiritual belief is a very, very personal thing and if I started applying what I believe to everybody else it would be unfair to everybody’s individuality and I really hate that.[38]

Filmography

Year Film Functioned as Notes
Director Writer Producer Actor Role
1996 Tromeo and Juliet Yes Yes Found a peanut father Also associate director
1997 Hamster PSA Yes Yes
1997 Sgt. Kabukiman Public Service Announcement Yes Insane Masturbator Television short
1997–2000 The Tromaville Cafe Yes Yes Yes Mike the Crazy Boom Guy Also creator
2000 The Specials Yes Yes Yes Minute Man
2000 Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV Yes Doctor Flem Hocking
2002 Scooby-Doo Yes
2003 The Ghouls Yes
2003 Doggie Tails, Vol. 1: Lucky's First Sleep-Over Yes Riley Direct-to-video
2003 Melvin Goes to Dinner Yes Scott
2004 Tube Yes Short film
2004 Dawn of the Dead Yes
2004 Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed Yes Yes
2004 LolliLove Yes Yes James Also executive producer
Uncredited as writer
2006 Slither Yes Yes Yes Hank Uncredited as actor
2008–2009 James Gunn's PG Porn Yes Yes Yes Yes Various roles Web series
Also executive producer
2010 Super Yes Yes Yes Demonswill
2012 Lollipop Chainsaw Yes Video game
2013 Movie 43 Partial Partial Segment: "Beezel"
2013 Thor: The Dark World Mid-credits scene Uncredited[39]
2013 LocoCycle[40] Yes Video game
2013 Holliston Yes John Anguish Episode: "Honesty"
2014 Guardians of the Galaxy Yes Yes Yes Maskless Sakaaran, Baby Groot Also CGI actor in end-credits scene [41]
2015 Con Man Yes Raaker 2.0 Web series[42]
2016 Doctor Strange Guest Guest Uncredited; Stan Lee cameo scene[27][28]
2016 The Belko Experiment Yes Yes
2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Yes Yes
2018 Avengers: Infinity War Yes Post-production; executive producer[43]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Title Result
2005 Bram Stoker Award Best Screenplay Dawn of the Dead Nominated
2006 Chainsaw Award Highest Body Count Slither Won
2007 Saturn Award The Filmmakers Showcase Award Slither Won
2014 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Screenplay Movie 43 (shared with Steve Baker, Ricky Bitt, Will Carlough, Tobias Carlson, Jacob Fleisher, Patrick Forsberg, Will Graham, Bob Odenkirk, Claes Kjellstrom, Jack Kukoda, Bill O'Malley, Matthew Alec Portenoy, Greg Pritkin, Rocky Russo, Olle Sarri, Elizabeth Wright Shapiro, Jeremy Sosenko, Jonas Wittenmark, and Jonathan van Tulleken) Won
2014 Golden Raspberry Award Worst Director Movie 43 (shared with Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Patrik Forsberg, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, Will Graham, and Jonathan van Tulleken) Won
2015 Writers Guild of America Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Guardians of the Galaxy (shared with Nicole Perlman) Nominated
2015 Hollywood Film Awards Blockbuster of the Year Guardians of the Galaxy Won
2015 Critics' Choice Awards Best Action Film Guardians of the Galaxy Won
2015 Saturn Award Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture Guardians of the Galaxy Won
2015 Saturn Award Best Director Guardians of the Galaxy Won
2015 Saturn Award Best Writing Guardians of the Galaxy (shared with Nicole Perlman) Nominated

Bibliography

Year Title Notes
1998 All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger with Lloyd Kaufman
2000 The Toy Collector
2003 Make Your Own Damn Movie: Secrets of a Renegade Director Introduction only

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b While most sources give a birth year of 1970,[1] Gunn graduated from St. Louis University High School in 1984,[2] making 1970 questionable.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b "James Gunn Biography (1970-)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Notable Alumni: SLUH". St. Louis University High School. Archived from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2014. James Gunn '84, filmmaker and screenwriter; Brian Gunn '88, screenwriter; Matt Gunn '90, writer for HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher; Sean Gunn '92, actor.
  3. ^ a b c d Williams, Joe (July 31, 2014). "St. Louis director James Gunn goes galactic". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Archived from the original on August 20, 2014. Retrieved December 6, 2014. Gunn graduated from SLUH in 1984. (Several sources, including IMDb.com, say he was born in 1970, but you do the math.)
  4. ^ Babka, Allison (August 1, 2014). "5 Weird Things about STL Native and Guardians of the Galaxy Director James Gunn". Daily RFT. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  5. ^ James Gunn (September 1, 2010). "Facebook Page". Facebook.
  6. ^ Gunn, James (July 5, 2015). "My brother Brian's dream about....". Twitter. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  7. ^ Patrick Gunn profile, qualiacapital.com; accessed December 4, 2014.
  8. ^ Gunn, James (December 21, 2014). "My sister Beth gave me....". Twitter. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  9. ^ Lovece, Frank (May 4, 2017). "James Gunn says ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ a family affair". Newsday. New York City / Long Island. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017. Additional WebCitation archive on May 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Interview with James Gunn (April 4, 2012). The 404 Podcast episode 1047
  11. ^ a b c d "A Conversation With Director James Gunn". St. Louis Magazine. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  12. ^ "SCA Network Screening and Q&A: Guardians of the Galaxy > About the Guests". University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. June 30, 2014. Archived from the original on May 26, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  13. ^ "Gunn known for his comedy, horror and ‘Scooby-Doo’". Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  14. ^ "About". James Gunn official website. Archived from the original on April 21, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  15. ^ "James Gunn ('95) Co-Writes and Directs 'Guardians of the Galaxy'". Columbia University School of the Arts. Archived from the original on September 20, 2015. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  16. ^ "Strike Let St. Louisan James Gunn Widen His Horizons". St. Louis Post Dispatch. October 24, 2008. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  17. ^ "RT’s 50 Best-Reviewed Horror Movies". Rotten Tomatoes. October 24, 2008. Archived from the original on July 13, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
  18. ^ "Xbox Live Show Sparky and Mikela". Celebrifi. October 27, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  19. ^ "James Gunn & Brutal Legend". The Jace Hall Show. Season 2. Episode 5. 2009-04-16.
  20. ^ "A Search For Authenticity on the Set of 'Scream Queens' Season 2". BloodyDisgusting. Retrieved December 4, 2014.
  21. ^ Michael Fleming (September 20, 2007). "New Regency adopts 'Pets' pitch – James Gunn to write and direct comedy". Variety. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  22. ^ James Gunn (March 31, 2009). "Re: A Few Things..". Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  23. ^ Lesnick, Silas (September 18, 2012). "James Gunn Confirmed to Direct and Rewrite Guardians of the Galaxy". Superherohype.com. Archived from the original on September 18, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  24. ^ Sneider, Jeff (February 22, 2015). "Superhero Movies Dissed at Oscars Despite 9 Acting Nominees With Comic Book Roles". TheWrap.com. Archived from the original on January 6, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  25. ^ Gunn, James (February 23, 2015). "I didn't really find the Jack Black superhero jokes offensive". James Gunn verified Facebook page. Archived from the original on March 21, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
  26. ^ Lowe, Kinsey (June 6, 2015). "Brent Sexton Signs Up For ‘The Belko Experiment’". Deadline.com. Archived from the original on September 26, 2015. Retrieved November 7, 2015.
  27. ^ a b While Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson believed Gunn directed four cameos, Gunn said on social media, "To be honest, I think I only did THREE cameos — one was shot by someone else. And my third probably isn’t what you think it is….": "James Gunn directed the next four Stan Lee Marvel cameos". Entertainment Weekly. October 29, 2016. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  28. ^ a b "And it was definitely one of the most fun times I've ever had on set....". James Gunn verified Facebook page. October 29, 2016. Archived from the original on April 20, 2017. Retrieved October 29, 2016.
  29. ^ a b Lovece, Frank (May 4, 2017). "James Gunn says ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ a family affair". Newsday. New York City / Long Island. Archived from the original on May 7, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017. And while he directed the Stan Lee cameo in director Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange, he did not direct the Marvel Comics impresario’s cameos in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok or Spider-Man: Homecoming. But, he reveals, 'I did do one that I can’t talk about.' Additional WebCitation archive on May 5, 2017.
  30. ^ "Marvel announces 'Guardians of the Galaxy' sequel". yahoo.com. July 26, 2014.
  31. ^ Rosen, Christopher. "James Gunn comments on directing Stan Lee Marvel cameos". Entertainment Weekly.
  32. ^ "James Gunn".
  33. ^ Gunn, James (April 17, 2017). "Well, this week we start the U.S. press junket....". James Gunn verified Facebook page. Archived from the original on April 17, 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2017. So, yes, I’m returning to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
  34. ^ Johnny Cullen (August 1, 2011). "Warner to publish Grasshopper's Lollipop Chainsaw". vg247. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  35. ^ Reuters (September 12, 2007). "'Office' actress Fischer, husband separate". Reuters. Retrieved January 3, 2009.
  36. ^ Gunn, James (November 9, 2015). "For me, meeting Jennifer Holland was like...". James Gunn verified Facebook. Archived from the original on May 2, 2017. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  37. ^ "The Indoor Kids #58 — Everything with James Gunn (NSFW)", The Indoor Kids, The Nerdist Podcast, event occurs at 49:42 to 52:56, August 13, 2012, archived from the original on March 4, 2016, retrieved October 23, 2016
  38. ^ Morgan, Sam (n.d.). "Exclusive Interview With ‘Super’ Writer/Director James Gunn". Hollywood.com. Archived from the original on October 19, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  39. ^ Connelly, Brendon (October 22, 2013). "Alan Taylor And Kevin Feige Express Rather Different Opinions About Thor: The Dark World’s End-Credits Tease". Bleedingcool.com. Archived from the original on October 22, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  40. ^ "Twisted Pixel Games: We Make Awesome". Twistedpixelgames.com. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  41. ^ Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Official Motion Picture Soundtrack ZinePak. ZinePak. p. 45.
  42. ^ McNary, Dave (March 11, 2015). "‘Firefly’ Stars Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion Reunite for Crowdfunded ‘Con Man’ Series". Variety. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  43. ^ Gunn on Facebook Live as transribed by Mueller, Matthew (February 5, 2017). "James Gunn directed the next four Stan Lee Marvel cameos". ComicBook.com. Archived from the original on April 20, 2017. Retrieved February 6, 2017. Am I going to have any involvement with Infinity War, yes, I'm an executive producer on Infinity War.

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