Paul Haggis

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Paul Haggis
Paul Haggis, Canadian Film Centre, 2013-cropped.jpg
Paul Haggis, November 2013
BornPaul Edward Haggis
(1953-03-10) March 10, 1953 (age 61)
London, Ontario, Canada
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, and producer
Years active1975–present
Spouse(s)Diane Christine Gettas (1977–94)
Deborah Rennard (1997–present)
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Paul Haggis
Paul Haggis, Canadian Film Centre, 2013-cropped.jpg
Paul Haggis, November 2013
BornPaul Edward Haggis
(1953-03-10) March 10, 1953 (age 61)
London, Ontario, Canada
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, and producer
Years active1975–present
Spouse(s)Diane Christine Gettas (1977–94)
Deborah Rennard (1997–present)

Paul Edward Haggis (born March 10, 1953) is a Canadian screenwriter, producer, and director. He spent his early career producing and directing various American and Canadian television network series. Among his achievements are screenwriter and producer credits for consecutive Best Picture winners, 2004's Million Dollar Baby and 2005's Crash, the latter of which he also directed.

Early life and education[edit]

Haggis was born on March 10, 1953, in London, Ontario,[1] the son of Mary Yvonne (née Metcalf) and Edward H. Haggis.[2] He was raised as a Catholic,[3] but considered himself an atheist until joining the Church of Scientology, which he later denounced as a cult.[4] The Gallery Theatre in London, Ontario, was owned by his parents, and Haggis gained experience in the field through work at the theatre.[5] He attended St. Thomas More Elementary School,[6] and after being inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard, proceeded to study art at H. B. Beal Secondary School.[1] After viewing Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blowup, he traveled to England with the intent of becoming a fashion photographer.[1] Haggis later went back to Canada to pursue studies in cinematography at Fanshawe College.[1] In 1975, Haggis moved to Los Angeles, California, to begin a career in writing in the entertainment industry.[1][5]


Haggis began to work as a writer for television programs, including The Love Boat, One Day at a Time, Diff'rent Strokes, and The Facts of Life.[5] With The Facts of Life, Haggis also gained his first credit as producer.[5] During the 1980s and 1990s, Haggis wrote for television series including The Tracey Ullman Show, Due South, L.A. Law, and EZ Streets.[5] He helped to create the television series Walker, Texas Ranger, Family Law, and Due South.[5] Haggis served as executive producer of the series Michael Hayes and Family Law.[5]

He gained recognition in the film industry for his work on the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, which Allmovie described as a "serious milestone" for the writer/producer, and as "his first high-profile foray into feature film".[5] Haggis had read two stories written by Jerry Boyd, a boxing trainer who wrote under the name of F.X. Toole.[5] Haggis acquired the rights to the stories, and developed them into the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby. Clint Eastwood portrayed the lead character in the film.[5] Eastwood also directed the film, and used the screenplay written by Haggis.[5] Million Dollar Baby received four Academy Awards including the Academy Award for Best Picture.[5]

After Million Dollar Baby, Haggis worked on the 2004 film Crash.[5] Haggis came up with the story for the film on his own, and then wrote and directed the film, which allowed him greater control over his work.[5] Crash was his first experience as director of a major feature film.[5] Critical reception of Crash was positive, and Roger Ebert called it the best film of 2005.[5] It received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, in addition to four other Academy Award nominations.[5] Haggis received two Academy Awards for the film: Best Picture (as its producer), and Best Writing for his work on the screenplay.[5] With Million Dollar Baby and then Crash, Haggis became the first individual to have written Best Picture Oscar-winners in two consecutive years.[7] Haggis said that he wrote Crash to "bust liberals", arguing that liberals were not honest with themselves about the nature of race and racism.[8]

Public break from the Church of Scientology[edit]

After maintaining active membership in the Church of Scientology for 35 years, Haggis left the organization in October 2009.[9][10][11][12] He was motivated to leave Scientology in reaction to statements made by the San Diego branch of the Church of Scientology in support of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative which banned gay marriage in California.[11]

Haggis wrote to Thomas Davis, the Church's spokesman, and requested that he denounce these statements; when Davis remained silent, Haggis responded that "Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent."[11][12][13] Haggis went on to list other grievances against Scientology, including its policy of disconnection, and the smearing of its ex-members through the leaking of their personal details.[11][12]

The Observer commented on defections of Haggis and actor Jason Beghe from Scientology, "The decision of Beghe and Haggis to quit Scientology appears to have caused the movement its greatest recent PR difficulties, not least because of its dependence on Hollywood figures as both a source of revenue for its most expensive courses and an advertisement for the religion."[14]

In an interview with Movieline, Haggis was asked about similarities between his film The Next Three Days and his departure from the Scientology organization; Haggis responded, "I think one's life always parallels art and art parallels life."[15] In February 2011, The New Yorker published a 25,000-word story, "The Apostate", by Lawrence Wright, detailing Haggis's allegations about the Church of Scientology. The article ended by quoting Haggis: "I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't."[4]

Personal life[edit]

Haggis lives in Santa Monica, California.[16]

Haggis is the founder of a non-profit organization called Artists for Peace and Justice that encourages peace and social justice and addresses issues of poverty and enfranchisement in communities around the world. The organization's immediate goal is to serve the poorest communities in Haiti with programs in education and healthcare. Haggis is very involved in the Haitian relief effort and often travels to the country himself.[17][18]



1993Red HotScreenwriter, Director[19]
2004Million Dollar BabyScreenwriter, Producer[19]
CrashStory, Screenwriter, Director, Producer[19]
2006The Last KissScreenwriter[19]
Flags of Our FathersScreenwriter[19]
Letters from Iwo JimaScreenwriter, Executive Producer[19]
Casino RoyaleScreenwriter (adaptation)[19]
2007In the Valley of ElahScreenwriter (adaptation), Director, Producer[19]
2008Quantum of SolaceScreenwriter[19]
2009Terminator SalvationWriter (rewrite)[19]
2010The Next Three DaysScreenwriter, Director[20]
2013Third PersonScreenwriter, Director[21]


1987Return of the Shaggy DogScreenwriter[19]
1987–1988thirtysomethingSupervising producer, Writer, Director
1993–2001Walker, Texas RangerCo-creator
1994–1999Due SouthCreator, Executive Producer, Screenwriter, Unit Director[19]
1996–1997EZ StreetsCreator, Executive producer
1997Walker, Texas Ranger: Sons of ThunderCreator, Director[19]
2005Walker, Texas Ranger: Trial By FireDirector[19]
2007The Black DonnellysCreator

Video games[edit]

2011Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3Co-writer

Awards and nominations[edit]

Haggis has been nominated for dozens of awards.[22]

1985Humanitas PrizeCBS Storybreak: "Zucchini"Children's Animation CategoryNominated
1988Emmy AwardthirtysomethingOutstanding Drama SeriesWon
Outstanding Writing in a Drama SeriesWon
Humanitas Prizethirtysomething60 Minute CategoryWon
1989Writers Guild of America AwardthirtysomethingEpisodic DramaNominated
1995Gemini AwardDue SouthBest Dramatic SeriesWon
Due South: Pilot (#1.0)Best TV MovieWon
Due SouthBest Writing in a Dramatic SeriesWon
Due South: Pilot (#1.0)Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Mini-SeriesNominated
1996Gemini AwardDue SouthCanada's Choice AwardWon
Due SouthBest Dramatic SeriesWon
Due South: "Hawk and a Handsaw"Best Writing in a Dramatic SeriesWon
Due South: "The Gift of the Wheelman"Best Writing in a Dramatic SeriesWon
1997Viewers for Quality Television AwardEZ StreetsFounder's AwardWon
2001Writers Guild of America AwardContributions to industryValentine Davies AwardWon
2005Academy AwardMillion Dollar BabyBest Writing, Adapted ScreenplayNominated[23]
Writers Guild of America AwardMillion Dollar BabyBest Adapted ScreenplayNominated[23]
American Screenwriters AssociationMillion Dollar BabyDiscover Screenwriting AwardWon
Black Movie AwardCrashOutstanding Motion PictureWon
Deauville American Film FestivalCrashGrand Special PrizeWon
European Film AwardCrashScreen International AwardNominated
Hollywood Film FestivalDirecting workBreakthrough DirectingWon
Las Vegas Film Critics Society AwardCrashBest ScreenplayWon
Online Film Critics Society AwardMillion Dollar BabyBest Screenplay, AdaptedNominated
San Francisco International Film FestivalScreenwriting workKanbar AwardWon
Satellite AwardMillion Dollar BabyBest Screenplay, AdaptedWon
CrashOutstanding Screenplay, OriginalNominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association AwardCrashBest Screenplay, OriginalWon
USC Scripter AwardMillion Dollar BabyUSC Scripter AwardWon
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association AwardCrashBest Screenplay – OriginalWon
2006Academy AwardCrashBest Motion Picture of the YearWon[23]
Best Writing, Original ScreenplayWon[23]
Best Achievement in DirectingNominated[23]
Golden Globe AwardCrashBest Screenplay – Motion PictureNominated
Writers Guild of America AwardCrashBest Original ScreenplayWon[23]
Directors Guild of America AwardCrashOutstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion PicturesNominated[23]
BAFTA AwardCrashBest Screenplay – OriginalWon[23]
David Lean Award for DirectionNominated
Austin Film Critics AwardCrashBest DirectorWon
Broadcast Film Critics Association AwardCrashBest WriterWon
CrashBest DirectorNominated
Chicago Film Critics Association AwardCrashBest ScreenplayWon
David di DonatelloCrashBest Foreign FilmWon
Edgar AwardCrashBest Motion Picture ScreenplayNominated
Humanitas PrizeCrashFeature Film CategoryWon
Independent Spirit AwardCrashBest First FeatureWon
London Critics Circle Film AwardCrashScreenwriter of the YearWon
CrashDirector of the YearNominated
Online Film Critics Society AwardCrashBest Breakthrough FilmmakerWon
CrashBest Screenplay, OriginalNominated
Producers Guild of America AwardCrashMotion Picture Producer of the Year AwardNominated
Robert AwardCrashBest American FilmNominated
Satellite AwardFlags of Our FathersBest Screenplay, AdaptedNominated
2007Academy AwardLetters from Iwo JimaBest Writing, Original ScreenplayNominated[23]
BAFTA AwardCasino RoyaleAlexander Korda Award for Best British FilmNominated[23]
Best Screenplay – AdaptedNominated
Saturn AwardCasino RoyaleBest WritingNominated
Edgar AwardCasino RoyaleBest Motion Picture ScreenplayNominated
Venice Film FestivalIn the Valley of ElahSIGNIS AwardWon
In the Valley of ElahGolden LionNominated
2008David di DonatelloIn the Valley of ElahBest Foreign FilmNominated

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Turner Classic Movies staff (2009). "Biography for Paul Haggis". Turner Classic Movies. Time Warner. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  2. ^ Riggs, Thomas (2003). Contemporary Theatre Film & Television. Gale / Cengage Learning. p. 181. ISBN 0787663638. 
  3. ^ Clarke, Cath (January 6, 2011). "Paul Haggis: 'You have to question your beliefs'". Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Wright, Lawrence (2011-02-12). "The Apostate". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Albertson, Cammila (2009). "Paul Haggis - Biography". Allmovie. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  6. ^ Rumelski, Kathy (September 12, 2006). "London fans toast Haggis". Jam! Showbiz (Canoe Inc). Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  7. ^ Salem, Rob (February 25, 2007). "Who needs Oscar? He has a mob: Nominee Paul Haggis returns to TV with new crime saga". Toronto Star ( Retrieved 2009-10-26. 
  8. ^ Buxton, Ryan (16 June 2014). "". Huffington Post. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Irish Independent staff (January 26, 2008). "The silence of Cruise's 'sinister' Cult". Irish Independent. 
  10. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (March 7, 2010). "Breaking With Scientology". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). p. A1. 
  11. ^ a b c d Brooks, Xan (October 26, 2009). "Film-maker Paul Haggis quits Scientology over gay rights stance". The Guardian. Retrieved October 26, 2009. 
  12. ^ a b c Ortega, Tony (October 25, 2009). "'Crash' Director Paul Haggis Ditches Scientology". Runnin' Scared (The Village Voice). Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  13. ^ Moore, Matthew (26 October 2009). "Crash director Paul Haggis quits Church of Scientology over gay marriage opposition". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 October 2009. 
  14. ^ Beaumont, Peter; Toni O'Loughlin; Paul Harris (November 22, 2009). "Celebrities lead charge against Scientology: Hollywood figures quit 'rip-off' church as Australian prime minister threatens parliamentary inquiry into its activities". The Observer (The Guardian). Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  15. ^ Ryan, Mike (November 15, 2010). "Paul Haggis on The Next Three Days, Scientology and Why He's OK With You Hating Crash". Movieline (Movieline LLC). Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  16. ^ Whipp, Glenn (May 8, 2005). "The 'Crash' of '05 - Paul Haggis explores intolerance and isolation in modern L.A.". Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  17. ^ "Relief for Haiti - Artists for Peace and Justice". Artists for Peace and Justice. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  18. ^ "Haggis' quest for Peace and Justice in Haiti". Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Turner Classic Movies staff (2009). "Filmography for Paul Haggis". Turner Classic Movies. Time Warner. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  20. ^ Bodey, Michael (March 24, 2010). "Indian extravaganza a juicy win for rival capitals of film". The Australian ( Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  21. ^ "The Third Person". IMDB. October 17, 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-10. 
  22. ^ Internet Movie Database staff (2009). "Awards for Paul Haggis". Internet Movie Database., Inc. Retrieved 2009-10-27. 
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Allmovie staff (2009). "Paul Haggis - Awards". Allmovie. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 

External links[edit]