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William J. Monahan

William Monahan in October 2006
Born November 3, 1960 (1960-11-03) (age 49)
Dorchester, Massachusetts U.S.
Occupation Screenwriter
Nationality American

William J. Monahan (born November 3, 1960) is an Academy Award-winning American screenwriter. His second produced screenplay was The Departed, a film which earned him a WGA award and an Academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Monahan is married and has two children.


Early years

Monahan was born in Dorchester, Boston. He spent his early years in nearby Roslindale, eventually moving to the suburbs of Boston when his parents divorced.[1][2] Over the years he frequently moved, living in many of the suburban communities on the North Shore of Massachusetts with his mother and sister.[3] He regularly visited his father's home in West Roxbury, where he would immerse himself in his father's extensive book collection; Monahan particularly enjoyed reading Shakespeare's plays.[1] His interest in movies began at age seven, when it occurred to him that a screenwriter was behind the story in Lawrence of Arabia.[4] Monahan wrote his first screenplay at age twelve.[5]


Writer and Editor

Monahan attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he studied Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.[3] He moved to New York City and contributed to the alternative weekly newspaper New York Press and the magazines Talk, Maxim and Spy.[1][5] In 1997, Monahan won a Pushcart Prize for his short story "A Relation of Various Accidents Observable in Some Animals Included in Vacuo".[6][7] Monahan was an editor at Spy during the magazine's final years, where he would come in at the close of the monthly issue to rewrite the articles and improve the jokes.[1]

Monahan wrote a novel titled Light House: A Trifle and Warner Bros. optioned the film rights.[8] In 1999, Talk magazine debuted and Monahan contributed a travelogue on Gloucester, Massachusetts to the first issue.[9] In 2000, Monahan's first novel Light House: A Trifle was finally published and garnered critical acclaim; The New York Times proclaimed "Monahan's cocksure prose gallops along," and BookPage Fiction called Monahan "a worthy successor to Kingsley Amis."[2][10][11] In the second half of 2001, Monahan wrote a fictional column at the New York Press under the pseudonym of Claude La Badarian, which ran for 13 weeks.[12][13]

Screenwriting career

Warner Bros. optioned the film rights to the novel, Light House: A Trifle[14] The screenplay adaptation has not been produced. Light House was released in 2000. A few years later, he bought back the rights and took the novel off the market.[4][8]

In 2001, 20th Century Fox bought Monahan's spec script Tripoli, about William Eaton's epic march on Tripoli during the Barbary Wars, in a deal worth mid-six figures in American dollars with Mark Gordon attached as the producer.[15] The script was given to Ridley Scott to direct. Monahan met with Scott to discuss Tripoli and Scott mentioned his desire to direct a film about knights. Monahan suggested the Crusades as a setting, reasoning that "you've got every conceivable plot imaginable there, which is far more exotic than fiction". Scott was captivated by Monahan's pitch and hired him to write the screenplay for Kingdom of Heaven. Tripoli was eventually shelved, but Monahan retained ownership of the screenplay, and therefore the right to consider new offers at a later date.[16][17]

In the 2000s, year after year, Monahan managed to secure work in the film industry. Notably, Brad Pitt's production company Plan B hired Monahan to write an adaptation of Hong Kong director Andrew Lau's gangster film Infernal Affairs. Monahan respun Infernal Affairs as a battle between Irish-American gangsters and cops in Boston's Southie district, and Martin Scorsese directed the completed screenplay under the title The Departed for Warner Bros.[18][19] Monahan's work on the film would later earn him two Best Adapted Screenplay awards, from the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Working scripts through production and after

Kingdom of Heaven was the first of Monahan's screenplays to be produced into a film. Monahan had negotiated a production write-through contract for Kingdom of Heaven, which allowed him to be present on the movie sets to make modifications to the shooting script during production. It was poorly received by critics when it was released in theaters in 2005. Kingdom was reappraised by critics when it was released on DVD in the form of a director's cut that contained an additional 45 minutes of footage previously shot from Monahan's shooting script. Some critics were pleased with the extended version of the film.[20]

The Departed, Monahan's second produced screenplay

Monahan's second produced screenplay was The Departed, an adaptation of the Hong Kong action film Infernal Affairs. Jack Nicholson, one of the leads in the film, had an impact on the screenplay. "I had written the role as a post-sexual 68-year-old Irishman. Jack is post-sexual exactly never," Monahan said later. "What Jack did is great. Did he change the words? Not any of the good ones." [4][21] Monahan received considerable praise from critics when the film was released in theaters in 2006, and was applauded for accurately depicting the city of Boston. Monahan used his intimate knowledge of the way Bostonians talk and act, learned from his youth spent in the many neighborhoods of Boston, to create characters that The Boston Globe described as distinctly indigenous to the city.[22] By the end of 2006, The Departed had won many critics' prizes. Monahan was honored by The Boston Society of Film Critics with the award for best screenplay, by the Chicago Film Critics Association for best adapted screenplay, and by the Southeastern Film Critics Association with another best adapted screenplay award.[23][24][25] Monahan took an unusual route for a screenwriter and hired a publicist to run a campaign promoting his screenplay during awards season.[26] Monahan ended up winning two Best Adapted Screenplay awards for The Departed, from the Writers Guild of America and from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[27][28] He received an award for his writing in film at the US-Ireland Alliance’s second annual "Oscar Wilde: Honoring Irish Writing in Film" ceremony.[2]

Becoming a producer

In 2006, Monahan negotiated a first-look producing deal with Warner Bros. which gives the studio the first right of first refusal on any films produced by Henceforth, a production company he started. In return Henceforth received the film rights to produce John Pearson's true crime novel The Gamblers, which Warner Bros. had acquired the rights to.[29]

After winning an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Departed in 2007, Monahan was hired to work on two film projects: an adaptation of the Hong Kong film Confession of Pain and an original rock and roll film, The Long Play. Monahan will executive produce and write the adaptation for Confession of Pain. The adaptation of Confession of Pain will be produced by Leonardo DiCaprio's production company Appian Way for Warner Bros. Pictures.[30] Monahan's other assignment is to rewrite a screenplay about the history of the rock music business called The Long Play. The Long Play is the creation of Mick Jagger, the lead singer of The Rolling Stones, and was nurtured at Jagger's production company Jagged Films. Martin Scorsese became involved while the film project was at Disney but recently negotiated a turnaround deal to bring the The Long Play to Paramount.[31] In 1999, Jagger and Scorsese hired Rolling Stone magazine writer Rich Cohen to research and write the first drafts for the Rock and Roll story.[32] In the intervening years Matthew Weiss, who wrote the screenplay for Niagara, Niagara, did several rewrites of the original drafts, and Monahan will now do a rewrite of his own.[31][33]



  • Light House: A Trifle (June 2000)



  1. ^ a b c d Sam Allis (2006-10-03). "Standing at the corner of Shakespeare and Scorsese". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-01-01.  
  2. ^ a b c US-Ireland Alliance (2007-02-26). "Van Morrison, Terry George and Bill Monahan honored in LA". Press release. Retrieved 2007-03-05.  
  3. ^ a b John Koch (February/March 2007). "Profane Eloquence: Through the words of William Monahan, Boston swagger meets Hong Kong crime drama". The Writers Guild of America, West. Written By Magazine. Retrieved 2007-03-07.  
  4. ^ a b c d Susan Wloszczyna (2007-02-15). "William Monahan: His 'Departed' left Hong Kong for the USA". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-02-25.  
  5. ^ a b Dylan Callaghan (2006-10-13). "A Man of Letters". Writers Guild of America, West. Retrieved 2007-01-01.  
  6. ^ William Georgiades (2007-02-25). "Required Reading". The New York Post. Retrieved 2007-03-04.  
  7. ^ William Monahan (July 1997). "A Relation of Various Accidents Observable in Some Animals Included in Vacuo". in Bill Henderson. The Pushcart Prize XXI: Best of the Small Presses (1997). Pushcart Press. ISBN 978-1888889000.  
  8. ^ a b Frosty (2007-02-18). "William Monahan – Exclusive Interview". Retrieved 2007-02-20.  
  9. ^ Russ Smith (1999-08-11). "MUGGER: I’m in Bermuda and Rick Lazio Isn’t". Jewish World Review. Retrieved 2007-03-08.  
  10. ^ William Georgiades (2000-07-23). "An Offshore Farce". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-10.  
  11. ^ Bruce Tierney (2000). "Review: Light House". BookPage Fiction. Retrieved 2007-03-15.  
  12. ^ William Monahan (2001-06-21). "The Last Supper: Being eventually a PROPOSAL for a column called DINING LATE WITH CLAUDE LA BADARIAN". New York Press. Retrieved 2007-03-06.  
  13. ^ William Monahan (2001-08-15). "That Asshole, Monahan by Claude La Badarian". New York Press. Retrieved 2007-03-09.  
  14. ^ Chris Petrikin, Dan Cox (1999-01-12). "'Mars' loses Verbinski: Studio, director cannot agree". Variety. Retrieved 2007-01-07.  
  15. ^ Cathy Dunkley, Jonathan Bing (2001-11-27). "Monahan 'Tripoli' spec lands on Gordon's shore". Variety. Retrieved 2007-01-05.  
  16. ^ Garth Franklin (2005-05-04). "Interview: Ridley Scott "Kingdom of Heaven"". Dark Horizons. Retrieved 2007-01-05.  
  17. ^ Stax (2007-02-20). "Monahan Talks Tripoli: Will the Ridley Scott epic be resurrected?". IGN. Retrieved 2007-02-20.  
  18. ^ Claude Brodesser, Cathy Dunkley (2004-02-12). "Scorsese takes on Hong Kong gangs: Pitt considering role in popular 'Infernal' redo". Variety. Retrieved 2007-01-06.  
  19. ^ Dade Hayes (2006-12-14). "Brad Pitt's role as filmmaker threatens to eclipse his actorly exploits and tabloid profile". Variety. Retrieved 2007-03-03.  
  20. ^ James Berardinelli (2006). "Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut:A Film Review". Retrieved 2007-03-04.  
  21. ^ David S. Cohen, Justin Chang (2007-02-25). "Oscar winners weigh in on victory: Backstage notes at the Academy Awards". Variety. Retrieved 2007-03-02.  
  22. ^ Sam Allis (2006-12-31). "The Storyteller". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-01-02.  
  23. ^ Wesley Morris (2006-12-11). "'The Departed' tops Boston film critics' awards". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-01-06.  
  24. ^ "'Departed' tops Chicago critics' list". Chicago Sun-Times. 2006-12-29.,CST-FTR-critics29.article. Retrieved 2007-01-06.  
  25. ^ "Oscar 2006: Southeastern Film Critics Select The Departed". Hollywood News. 2006-12-19. Retrieved 2007-01-06.  
  26. ^ Jay Fernandez (2007-02-21). "SCRIPTLAND: Publicists get ink for screenwriters: Even Oscar-nominated writers need someone looking out for their interests in the crush of award season.". Los Angeles Times.,0,2353575.story. Retrieved 2007-02-21.  
  27. ^ Dave McNary (2007-02-11). "'Departed' shines at WGA kudos: 'Miss' a hit with scribes". Variety. Retrieved 2007-02-21.  
  28. ^ Gregg Kilday. "Scorsese cuffs Oscar: 'Departed' named best pic". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2007-03-02.  
  29. ^ Michael Fleming (2006-10-05). "'Departed' scribe digs WB: Studio inks overall deal with Monahan". Variety. Retrieved 2007-01-05.  
  30. ^ Borys Kit (2007-02-27). "Monahan, DiCaprio reconnect". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2007-03-02.  
  31. ^ a b Michael Fleming, Pamela McClintock (2007-02-26). "Scorsese, Monahan ready to 'Play': 'Departed' duo rock on at Paramount". Variety. Retrieved 2007-03-02.  
  32. ^ Jonathan Bing (2001-01-17). "HBO gets 'Tough' with rock scribe Cohen". Variety. Retrieved 2007-03-02.  
  33. ^ "Matthew Weiss: Filmography". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-21.  

Further reading


External links


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