CHRIS COLUMBUS (Director, Producer) is a major force in contemporary
Hollywood filmmaking. From his anarchic, genre-bending 1980s classics
Gremlins and The Goonies to the recent blockbuster Harry Potter films, which
are among the most successful book-to-screen adaptations of all time.
Columbus was born in Spangler, Pennsylvania and grew up outside of
Youngstown, Ohio. As a youngster, he aspired to draw cartoons for Marvel
Comics and eventually made the connection between comic books and movie
storyboards. In high school, he began making his own homegrown 8mm films
and drawing his own storyboards (which he continues to this day). After high
school, he enrolled in the Directors Program at New York University's prestigious
Tisch School of the Arts.
Columbus first attained success as a screenwriter. While still in college, he sold
his first script Jocks, a semi-autobiographical comedy about a Catholic schoolboy
who tries out for a football team. After graduating from NYU, Columbus wrote a
small town drama entitled Reckless (1984), based on his experiences as a
factory worker in Ohio. The film was directed by James Foley and starred Aidan
Quinn and Daryl Hannah.
Columbus gained prominence in Hollywood writing several original scripts
produced by Steven Spielberg. The back-to-back hits of the Joe Dante-directed
Gremlins (1984) and The Goonies (1985), helmed by Richard Donner, were
decade-defining films that intertwined high notes of offbeat, edgy, often
outrageous humor against more classic adventure-thriller backdrops. He next
wrote the fantasy adventure Young Sherlock Holmes, which was directed by
These screenwriting achievements led Columbus to directing his first feature,
Adventures in Babysitting (1987) starring Elisabeth Shue. A meeting with John
Hughes brought Columbus to the helm of Home Alone (1990), the first of three
collaborations. Home Alone and its hugely successful follow-up, Home Alone 2:
Lost in New York (1992), were universal in appeal and launched the career of
Macaulay Culkin. Only the Lonely (1991), a bittersweet comedy-drama directed
by Columbus from his own screenplay, was praised for featuring one of the late
John Candy's best performances, and for the return of legendary star Maureen
O'Hara to the screen.
Columbus' smash hit comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) starring Robin Williams and
Sally Field, bent genders as well as genres, to great critical and public success.
Columbus directed another comedy Nine Months (1995), with Hugh Grant and
Julianne Moore, before turning to drama with Stepmom (1998) starring Julia
Roberts and Susan Sarandon.
Columbus faced a daunting task when he was called upon to direct Harry Potter
and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), the first film based on J.K. Rowling's
monumentally successful series of books. With millions of avid and sometimes
fanatical readers — both young and old — in a high state of expectation and
anticipation, Columbus cast completely inexperienced youngsters Daniel
Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in the leading roles as Harry Potter
and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. Once again, he
demonstrated his facility for nurturing and cultivating young talent and turning
them into natural screen performers.
The success of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was followed by Harry
Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), which once again met with huge box
office success. He served as producer on the recent Harry Potter and the
Prisoner of Azkaban and wrote the screenplay for Revolution Studios' Christmas
With the Kranks.
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