GARY ROSS (Writer/Director) makes his feature directorial
debut with Pleasantville, a daring modern fairy tale
in which an entire fictional town is granted a chance to experience
the wonders, comedies and dangers of real life.
Ross is a contemporary fableist, combining sheer entertainment
with intriguing questions about contemporary life. As a screenwriter
he has spun such tales as Big, the poignantly hilarious
story of a child who gets the opportunity to try out living as
a 30 year-old man; and Dave, a comic yam about an ordinary
guy who finds himself standing in for the President of the United
States. In each of Ross' features, things happen to his characters
that stretch reality and enlarge both their hearts and their points-of-view.
The son of a screenwriter, Gary Ross was writing short plays and
short stories by the
4th grade. He wrote a short novel in high school, then later at
the University of
Pennsylvania, he dabbled in theatre directing. He helped teach
a course in Film and
Social History, spent summers studying acting with Stella Adler,
interned on Capitol
Hill and became involved in national political issues, all while
majoring in English.
In the 1980's, Ross found himself gravitating back towards motion
pictures. He began writing a social satire wrapped up in a fantastical
cloak - a fairy tale about a little boy who dreams of getting
to live a grown-up life and is astonished at the consequences
of having his dream come true. That tale became Big, directed
by Penny Marshall and starring Tom Hanks in the role that propelled
him to mega-stardom. Ross and his partner Ann Spielberg were honored
with an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay as well as
a Writers Guild Award nomination. The story was later turned into
a Broadway musical.
Ross went on to write Dave, the hit White House comedy
that won actor Kevin Kline and director Ivan Reitman critical
acclaim. Again the story was one in which fantastical circumstances
placed an ordinary man inside the White House - where themes ranging
from political equity and individuality to the need for love played
out against a series of comic adventures.
Ross was no stranger to the political milieu explored in Dave.
Throughout his career, he has remained active in local and
national politics. He has written speeches for numerous political
luminaries, including President Clinton, and attended the Democratic
National Convention as a delegate. He also recently served as
President of the Los Angeles Library Commission, a position that
influenced the catalytic role of the library in Pleasantville.
Again, Ross garnered a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination and a
Award nomination. He also won the Paul Selvin Award from the Writer's
But even with his screenwriting success, Gary Ross didn't want
to try his hand at directing until he felt 100 percent ready.
The strength of his vision for Pleasantville compelled
him to make this story his feature directorial debut.
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