William Monahan

William Monahan

Born in Boston, MA William Monahan fashioned himself a career as a modern day "man of letters"-that rare breed of writer whose works combined intellectualism and cultural authority to reflect on a variety of issues. Like his literary her s Gore Vidal and the late Anthony Burgess, Monahan began his career as a journalist. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts in the early eighties, Monahan moved to New York City, where he found work as a contributing writer and critic for a number of magazines and alternative weekly newspapers. However, Monahan's unique brand of humor and caustic, observational wit found its most perfect fit in the latter part of the greed decade as a writer for the notorious, now-defunct satirical monthly, Spy magazine. Monahan's talent for rewriting and punching up humorous pieces earned him an editorship at Spy, as well as a Pushcart Prize for short fiction in 1997. In 2000, Monahan published his first novel, the widely praised Light House: A Trifle.Turning his attention to screenwriting in 2001, Monahan sold his first spec script-a Barbary War epic called "Tripoli"-to 20th Century Fox. Despite the attachment of A-list helmer, Ridley Scott, however, "Tripoli" failed to get off the ground. Luckily, Scott was impressed enough with Monahan's first script that he invited the aspiring screenwriter to breakfast with him in September of 2001 to discuss another of the director's pet projects: an epic 12th Century action-drama set during the Crusades. That film eventually became Scott's big-budget spectacle, "Kingdom of Heaven" (2005) starring Orlando Bloom, Liam Neeson, and Jeremy Irons. While many critics noted the film's inescapable parallels to the modern-day, post-9/11 geo-political climate, both Scott and Monahan dismissed the idea that the script was designed to be a metaphor. Whatever their intentions, the $110 million budgeted "Kingdom of Heaven" proved to be a disappointment at the domestic box office, grossing less than $50 million.In 2002 and 2003, respectively, Monahan was hired to pen "Jurassic Park IV" for Universal and "Mazar-i-Sharif" for Columbia. The former was, of course, the latest installment in the hugely profitable dinosaur franchise; the latter, a fact-based war drama based on 2002's bloody Taliban uprising against American forces in Afghanistan. As of 2005, however, both projects were placed into turnaround. Fortunately, these production delays did little to slow Monahan's rising career.In 2006, Monahan was tapped to write the police/mob crime thriller, "The Departed." Based on the influential 2002 Hong Kong gangster drama, "Infernal Affairs," "The Departed" told the story of Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), an undercover cop assigned to infiltrate a criminal organization led by Boston crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Unbeknownst to the police, however, Costello has his own mole within the Boston P.D. in the form of Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a young criminal whom Costello adopted in his youth and who has specifically been groomed for his mole role. In a wise move, Monahan chose not to stray too far from Alan Mak and Felix Chong's original plot for "Infernal Affairs." Nevertheless, "The Departed" stood out as a film with an identity all its own, due in no small part to its stellar cast and distinctly Americanized sensibilities. Much of the film's veracity, however, was credited to Monahan's crackling dialogue and clear intimate knowledge of Boston's distinctive feel, flavor and customs.One of the most critically acclaimed hits of the year, "The Departed" scored no less than six Golden Globe Award nominations in 2007 including Best Picture - Drama, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Actor - Drama (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Wahlberg), and for its writer, Best Screenplay. Prior to winning a 2007 Writer's Guild Award, Monahan got his first chance to win an Academy Award, earning a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Not surpisingly, Monahan took home the good statue at the 2007 Academy Awards.