Paul Feig

Paul Feig

Feig was born and raised in the small town of Mount Clemens, Michigan. He was brought up in a middle class home - his mother worked as a telephone operator and his father owned a surplus store - and it was this Midwestern upbringing that would serve as the basis for his later series "Freaks and Geeks." He may have been raised over 2,000 miles away from nearest Hollywood studio, but Feig knew he wanted to write and direct movies at the age of 9. It was at that time that he saw Woody Allen's classic comedy "Take the Money and Run" (1969), which inspired him to set his sights on a career in show business. Of course, the road to stardom was not always an easy one. After a brief stint at Wayne State University, Feig packed his bags and headed west to study film at University of Southern California. Living in Los Angeles, however, proved to be expensive and Feig took whatever job he could find in order to pay the bills, including a gig working as a tour guide for Universal Studios. After graduating from the school in 1984 Feig once again found himself broke and with no stable employment. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his idol, Woody Allen, by embarking on a career in standup, but desperately needed to make money. With that sense of utter desperation fueling him, he signed up to be a contestant on the popular game show "The $25,000 Pyramid" (CBS/ABC/Syndication 1973-1991) and managed to take home nearly $30,000 in cash. With his winnings in hand, Feig now had enough capital to finance the rough-and-tumble career of a standup comedian. And with that, he set out to perform at as many L.A. comedy clubs that would let him.With money no longer an issue, Feig could easily put more time into his standup routine. And like most standups working the L.A. clubs, Feig spent his days drifting from one sitcom audition to the next. By the late '80s he started booking bit parts on shows like "The Facts of Life" and "Newhart" (CBS 1982-1990), before landing his first recurring role on the short-lived CBS dance series "Dirty Dancing" (1988-89). Feig continued to primarily act on TV well into the mid-'90s, most notably playing various characters on the sketch comedy show "The Edge" (FOX 1992-93) and as a series regular on the Tom Arnold vehicle "The Jackie Thomas Show" (ABC 1992-93). It was a supporting role as a camp counselor in the 1995 comedy "Heavyweights," however, that would forever change Feig's life. The film was a box-office dud, but on the set he met a young comedy writer by the name of Judd Apatow, who co-wrote the film. Feig struck up a friendship with Apatow and told him an idea he had about a group of teenage rejects trying to navigate the anxiety-ridden halls of a Midwestern high school. Apatow like the idea and encouraged Feig to write a pilot. When "Freaks and Geeks" premiered in the fall of 1999, the show was an immediate hit with critics, who lauded the series' smart, irreverent style. The show also sported a talented young cast that included James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and John Francis Daley - all of whom would go on to have A-list film careers as performers and writers in the ensuing years. For mainstream viewers, however, "Freaks and Geeks" never caught on, and NBC cancelled the show after 12 episodes. Fans were outraged and led a write-in campaign for the network to air the final 6 episodes. NBC eventually relented, much to Feig's joy, and decided to air episodes 13 through 18 in the summer and fall of 2000. Feig may have been upset over NBC's untimely cancellation of "Freaks and Geeks," but his TV directing career only flourished in the years that followed. He directed seven episodes of the hit Fox comedy "Arrested Development" (Fox 2003-2006; Netflix 2013), as well as episodes of "30 Rock" (NBC 2006-2013), "Mad Men," and "Weeds." He also wrote a pair of frank and frequently hilarious memoirs, Kick Me and Superstud. In between directing episodes of some of the most buzzworthy TV shows of the 2000s, Feig also found the time to direct two feature length films, the dark drama "I Am David" (2003) and the tween comedy "Unaccompanied Minors" (2006). Both of those films, however, went largely unnoticed by critics and audiences. Undeterred, Feig continued his TV career, most notably serving as director and co-executive producer on "The Office." Then in 2010 his longtime friend and collaborator Judd Apatow approached him to direct a raunchy wedding comedy called "Bridesmaids." Feig jumped at the chance, and when "Bridesmaids" debuted in the summer of 2011 it became an immediate critical and commercial blockbuster, scoring two Academy Award nominations, including a Best Supporting Actress nod for Melissa McCarthy, as well as nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office. Now a hot movie director, Feig repeated his "Bridesmaids" success two years later with "The Heat." That film, which reteamed him with McCarthy, made an impressive $230 million at the box office off a $43 million budget, thus proving Feig's "Bridesmaids" success was no fluke. Feig and McCarthy next teamed up for "Spy" (2015), an espionage comedy starring McCarthy as a secret agent. In the fall of 2014, Feig was publicly attached to a reboot of the '80s blockbuster "Ghostbusters" (1984) with another of Feig's by-now-trademark female-driven casts.