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David Peoples

David Peoples

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Also Known As: Anthony Able, David And Janet Peoples, David Webb Peoples Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Middletown, Connecticut, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A relatively reclusive American screenwriter (who refuses to be photographed for interviews and resides in Berkeley rather than Los Angeles), Peoples has built a strong reputation with a handful of distinctive screenplays. His work is characterized by a probing interrogation of genre conventions and strong moral ambiguity. Peoples' heroes tend to be only marginally more sympathetic than his villains. He has been quoted by The New York Times' Bernard Weinraub: "I have a hard time being on anybody's side in anything. I'm inclined to see everybody's point of view." Prior to making his mark in fiction film, Peoples worked primarily as a news and documentary film editor (and occasional writer) in northern California, often in collaboration with his wife, producer-writer Janet Peoples. The pair worked together on Jon Korty's Oscar-winning "Who Are the DeBolts? (And Where Did They Get 19 Kids?)" (1977) and the Oscar-nominated "The Day After Trinity" (1980). The latter was an acclaimed profile of American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in producing the first atomic bomb. Peoples began dabbling in fiction filmmaking in the 1970s working as an editor on the action flick "Steel Arena" (1973) and...

A relatively reclusive American screenwriter (who refuses to be photographed for interviews and resides in Berkeley rather than Los Angeles), Peoples has built a strong reputation with a handful of distinctive screenplays. His work is characterized by a probing interrogation of genre conventions and strong moral ambiguity. Peoples' heroes tend to be only marginally more sympathetic than his villains. He has been quoted by The New York Times' Bernard Weinraub: "I have a hard time being on anybody's side in anything. I'm inclined to see everybody's point of view."

Prior to making his mark in fiction film, Peoples worked primarily as a news and documentary film editor (and occasional writer) in northern California, often in collaboration with his wife, producer-writer Janet Peoples. The pair worked together on Jon Korty's Oscar-winning "Who Are the DeBolts? (And Where Did They Get 19 Kids?)" (1977) and the Oscar-nominated "The Day After Trinity" (1980). The latter was an acclaimed profile of American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in producing the first atomic bomb. Peoples began dabbling in fiction filmmaking in the 1970s working as an editor on the action flick "Steel Arena" (1973) and the X-rated "The Joy of Letting Go" (1976).

Impressed by one of Peoples' unproduced scripts, director Tony Scott referred it to his brother Ridley. This lead to Peoples' feature debut as a screenwriter (with co-scenarist Hampton Fancher) on the sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" (1982). Though a box-office disappointment, the film was a critical and cult hit that boosted the reputations of many of those involved with the project. Peoples next surfaced as the writer-director of the unimpressive sci-fi actioner "The Blood of Heroes" (1989) starring Rutger Hauer and Joan Chen in a grim post-apocalyptic future. He did not fare much better penning a poorly received underwater version of "Alien" entitled "Leviathan" (1989) and used the pseudonym Anthony Able as the scripter of the direct-to-video "Project: Alien" (1990).

Peoples' career was transformed in 1992: two major films made from his scripts--Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" and Stephen Frears' "Hero"--were released within months of each other, just as "Blade Runner", finally recognized as a masterpiece, was successfully reissued in a "director's cut" version. While "Hero" received a lukewarm response from both press and public, "Unforgiven"--written in 1976 when Peoples was an unknown quantity--was a critical and commercial smash. Hailed as a classic Western, "Unforgiven" was credited with revitalizing both the genre and the career of star-director Clint Eastwood. The film's many honors included Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman). Peoples received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay. Meanwhile, the flawed comedy-drama "Hero" took some cues from Frank Capra to tell an implausible story of mistaken identity and slippery notions of heroism.

Peoples and his wife Janet reteamed creatively to pen the screenplay for Terry Gilliam's sci-fi think piece "12 Monkeys" (1996). Inspired by Chris Marker's memorable 1962 French short "La Jetee/The Runway", the film was a gloomy time-travel tale starring Bruce Willis as a man from a post-apocalyptic future looking for salvation in the past. Gilliam usually writes his own scripts but he was intrigued by the intelligence of the Peoples' screenplay. He observed: "The story is disconcerting. It deals with time, madness and a perception of what the world is or isn't. It is a study of madness and dreams, of death and rebirth, set in a world coming apart." Nonetheless, the film opened to good reviews and respectable business, netting Oscar nods for supporting actor Brad Pitt and costume designer Julie Weiss.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Blood of Heroes, The (1990) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

:
Grew up in Middletown, CT
:
Attended high school in the Philippines
:
Settled in Berkeley, CA with his wife Janet in the early 1960s
:
Worked as a news and documentary film editor while struggling to sell screenplays
1969:
Directed the documentary short "How We Stopped the War"
1973:
Feature debut as editor, the action feature "Steel Arena"
1976:
Wrote screenplay titled "The Cut-Whore Killings," which eventually became "Unforgiven"
1977:
As editor, collaborated with wife Janet who wrote the nonfiction feature "Who Are the DeBolts? (And Where Did They Get 19 Kids?); film won Oscar as Best Feature Documentary
:
Wrote screenplay in the late 1970s titled "My Dog's on Fire," a comedy about a punk rock band; screenplay read by director Tony Scott who passed it on to his brother, director Ridley Scott
1980:
Co-wrote (with wife) and edited the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Day After Trinity"
1982:
Co-wrote screenplay (with Hampton Fancher) of Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner"; adapted from Philip K. Dick's novel <i>Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?</i>
1989:
Feature directorial debut, "The Blood of Heroes"
1990:
Used pseudonym Anthony Able for script to "Project Alien," a thriller about a UFO cover-up
1992:
Received screenplay credit for Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven"; earned Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay
1992:
Wrote story and screenplay for the Capra-esque "Hero," directed by Stephen Frears
1995:
With wife Janet, co-wrote the screenplay for "12 Monkeys," inspired by Chris Marker's experimental short "La jetée" (1962)
1998:
Received solo writing credit for the Kurt Russell vehicle "Soldier"
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Education

University of California at Berkeley: Berkeley , California - 1962

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Janet Peoples. Documentarian, screenwriter. Wrote the Oscar-winning documentary feature "Who Are the DeBolts? (And Where Did They Get 19 Kids?) which Peoples edited; produced and co-wrote (with Peoples and Jon Else) the Oscar-nominated documentary feature "The Day After Trinity" (1980) which Peoples edited; co-wrote (with Peoples) fiction feature "12 Monkeys".

Family close complete family listing

father:
Joseph Webb Peoples. Geologist. Former chairman of the geology department of Wesleyan University; worked for the United States Geological Survey; died on March 21, 2000 at age 92.
mother:
Ruth Peoples. Died in 1993.
brother:
Douglass Peoples.
sister:
Penelope Peoples.
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