THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS
ROB COHEN (Director) Combining nearly three decades of motion picture
experience, first as an executive, then as a highly prolific producer and
finally as one of American's most versatile directors, Rob Cohen maintains a
unique place in the entertainment industry.
Often on the cutting edge of cultural (pop and otherwise) and technological
developments, Cohen's films as both director and producer have swept across a
wide range of topics and backdrops.
Universal recently released Cohen's provocative thriller The Skulls, which
revealed the machinations of Ivy League university secret societies. The film
starred Joshua Jackson, Paul Walker and Leslie Bibb. Cohen's critically
acclaimed The Rat Pack, an HBO film starring Ray Liotta as Franck
Mantegna as Dean Martin and Don Cheadle as Sammy Davis, Jr., chronicled an
entire era as it told the story of Hollywood and Las Vegas' most famous swingers
in their heyday. The Rat Pack received 11 Emmy Award nominations (winning
three), won Cheadle a Golden Globe Award and earned Cohen a nomination from the
Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Direction of a Television Film.
Cohen's previous directorial effects reveal his expansion storytelling
interests. His debut film, A Small Circle of Friends, starred the late Brad
Davis and Karen Allen in a romance set against the political turmoil of late
1960s Harvard University (Cohen's alma mater).
Heralded by both critics and audiences, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, which
was both written and directed by Cohen, humanized the legendary Hong Kong-born
action hero for new generations and made stars of both Jason Scott Lee and
Lauren Holly. Daylight, starring Sylvester Stallone, was a big-scale action
thriller set primarily in a massive tunnel beneath New York's Hudson River,
which was recreated in Rome's Cinecitta Studios. Daylight was nominated for an
Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing.
For Dragonheart, visual effects made a quantum leap in Cohen's epic fable of
an unlikely alliance between a knight (Dennis Quail) and a fierce but noble
dragon endowed with the powers of speech (voiced by Sean Connery). Cohen was
intricately involved with both the design of the massive creature and
implementation of the state-of-the-art effects from ILM, the first time a major
motion picture character was fully rendered digitally. The film won the Saturn
Award as Best Fantasy Film of 1996, and was nominated for an Academy Award for
Best Visual Effects.
Cohen was born in Cornwall-on-Hudson in New York. He attended Harvard
University, from which he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in
anthropology. He began his career in film during his sophomore year at Harvard
when he assisted directed Daniel Petrie in making Silent Night, Lonely Night, a
made-for-TV movie. After graduation, Cohen moved to Los Angeles, where as a
reader for International Famous Agency, he discovered the now-classic The Sting.
He left IFA for 20th Century Fox Television and quickly acquired the title
Director of Television Movies, developing such projects as Mrs. Sundance and
Stowaway to the Moon. Desiring to expand into feature films, Cohen joined Motown
as their Executive VP of the motion picture division while still in his early
At Motown, Cohen produced some key entries in 1970s cinema, several of them
antidotes for the "blaxploitation" films of the era. The Bingo Long
Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, starring Billy Bee Williams, James Earl
Jones and Richard Pryor, was a serio-comic look at the "Negro Leagues"
of the 1930's. The television movie Scott Joplin, which also starred Williams,
was the story of the great early 20th century ragtime pianist and composer whose
music was popularized in the soundtrack for The Sting.
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