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Gavin O'Connor

Gavin O'Connor

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Long Island, New York, USA Profession: screenwriter, director, producer, actor, playwright

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A sensitive soul lurking inside a six-foot-two-inch he-man, Gavin O'Connor wrote and produced fellow Long Islander Ted Demme's directorial debut, the short film "The Bet" (1992). The following year, he portrayed Drill Man in Demme's feature directing debut, "Who's the Man?." After writing and helming the short "American Standoff" (1994), which aired on PBS, the Independent Film Channel and multiple foreign TV stations, O'Connor made his own feature co-writing and directing debut with "Comfortably Numb" (1995), a smartly mounted flick with no star power and a storyline about the moral dilemmas facing a Connecticut preppie-turned-NYC prosecutor. Unfortunately, the script's descent into a telepic-style chronicling of heroin addiction undercut the quality look of the film. After screenings at Cannes and the Boston Film Festival, "Comfortably Numb" was relegated to the shelf. To counteract this disappointment, O'Connor opted for the stage, producing, writing and starring in the Off-Off-Broadway play "Rumblings of a Romance Renaissance" (1997), learning a little bit more about actors and acting from the inside while experiencing the immediate gratification of an audience's response.O'Connor and then wife...

A sensitive soul lurking inside a six-foot-two-inch he-man, Gavin O'Connor wrote and produced fellow Long Islander Ted Demme's directorial debut, the short film "The Bet" (1992). The following year, he portrayed Drill Man in Demme's feature directing debut, "Who's the Man?." After writing and helming the short "American Standoff" (1994), which aired on PBS, the Independent Film Channel and multiple foreign TV stations, O'Connor made his own feature co-writing and directing debut with "Comfortably Numb" (1995), a smartly mounted flick with no star power and a storyline about the moral dilemmas facing a Connecticut preppie-turned-NYC prosecutor. Unfortunately, the script's descent into a telepic-style chronicling of heroin addiction undercut the quality look of the film. After screenings at Cannes and the Boston Film Festival, "Comfortably Numb" was relegated to the shelf. To counteract this disappointment, O'Connor opted for the stage, producing, writing and starring in the Off-Off-Broadway play "Rumblings of a Romance Renaissance" (1997), learning a little bit more about actors and acting from the inside while experiencing the immediate gratification of an audience's response.

O'Connor and then wife Angela Shelton conceived a project that would survive their brief marriage. Shelton's memoir of her childhood experiences on the road with her serial-marrying mom resonated with O'Connor, himself the product of a broken home, so the pair co-wrote "Tumbleweeds" (1999, executive produced by Demme), focusing on the period when the pre-teen daughter was on the cusp of young womanhood. Once he saw the Tony-winning British actress Janet McTeer on Charlie Rose's show in 1997, he knew he had found the mother, and he stuck by her, even though it meant funding the shoot himself when potential financiers balked at her anonymity. Despite limited rehearsal time, O'Connor rapidly developed chemistry between mother and daughter (Kimberly J Brown) through improvisational exercises, striving for what he calls a "documentary within the context of drama." The resultant gem of a movie, in which he also co-starred as McTeer's volatile truck-driving boyfriend, won the Filmmaker's Trophy at Sundance and went on to garner several awards for its leading lady. O'Connor and Shelton were also asked to create a potential TV series based on the material.

After executive producing the documentary "Mule Skinner Blues" (2001), the indie drama "The Slaughter Rule" (2002) and the cable actioner "The Smashing Machine" (2002), O'Connor returned behind the camera to direct "Miracle" (2004), the well-crafted Cinderella sports story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and its near unimaginable defeat of the then-dominating Soviet and Czech teams. Building the drama on the shoulders of coach Herb Brooks, a complicated, hard-driving man played to perfection by hockey enthusiast Kurt Russell, O'Connor assembled a textbook sports film that rose above others in the genre due to its attention to human moments and character foibles.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
3.
  Warrior (2011)
4.
5.
  Miracle (2004) Director
6.
  Tumbleweeds (1999) Director
7.
  Comfortably Numb (1995) Director
8.
  American Standoff (1993) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Eden (2008)
3.
 Glass House, The (2001) Don
4.
 Mad About Mambo (2000) Seamus
5.
 When the Sky Falls (2000) Young Detective
6.
 Tumbleweeds (1999) Jack Ranson
7.
 Informant, The (1998) Judge'S Ruc Escort
8.
 This Is My Father (1998) Town Lad (1939)
9.
 Who's the Man? (1993) Drill Man
10.
 Homeboy (1988) Rookie Cop
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised on Long Island in New York
1992:
Wrote and produced Ted Demme's directorial debut, the short film "The Bet"
1993:
Played Drill Man in Demme's feature directing debut, "Who's the Man?"
1994:
Wrote and directed the short "American Standoff" (aired on PBS)
1995:
Feature co-writing and directing debut, "Comfortably Numb"
1997:
Produced, wrote and starred in the off-off-Broadway play "Rumblings of a Romance Renaissance"
1998:
Founded Final Cut Features with twin brother Greg
1999:
Co-wrote (with then-wife Angela Shelton) "Tumbleweeds"; also directed, co-produced (with Demme) and co-starred
2004:
Produced and directed first mainstream film "Miracle"; based on the US hockey team's victory in the 1980 Winter Olympics
2008:
Directed (also co-wrote) the crime drama "Pride and Glory" starring Colin Farrell and Edward Norton
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia , Pennsylvania -

Notes

"Writing isn't easy for me. It's very labor-intensive. It's a lot more work and perseverence. I feel more comfortable wearing a director's hat. But it's also a Catch-22--I need something to write that I can direct." --Gavin O'Connor to Daily Variety, September 15, 1999

About financing the film himself: "Well, when my old man retired he opened up a private investigation company. When my brother graduated from Wharton he took over the business. He's an incredibly bright guy. So I took my piece and sold it to get us through principal photography. When we got back to New York after making the movie we were broke, and we went to Post Production Playground. And the guy who runs it, Alton, gave us a room for a week, and we cut a trailer. I called an old college roomate of mine, one of my best friends. He works on Wall Street, and I had him get five guys together that he does business with, and they came and watched the trailer.

"Actually they all wrote me a check, and then Janet [McTee] wrote me a check. So when the budget went up a little more we did the rest on credit cards." --O'Connor quoted in Filmmaker, Fall 1999

"Hollywood makes a lot of great movies, but a lot of times you know the way it's going to unfold, just by the way it's set up. We weren't writing a cookie-cutter script.

"Even if it wasn't pretty. Mary Jo [McTeer's character] is a flawed mom. But you can never deny that she loves the hell out of her child. And that, to me, is what life's about: never black and white." --O'Connor to theLos Angeles Times, November 23, 1999

"Sundance is going to be a defining moment in my life. But the unfortunate thing about Sundance, is when you have a film there, you can't have the opportunity to see other films. That was disturbing, because I really wanted to see some films. Sundance was scary. We submitted a rough cut well over 2-and-a-half-hours long and then we got in. Then Greg [O'Connor, Gavin's brother and 'Tumbleweed' producer] and I looked at each other and we were like, oh boy, we have a lot of work ahead of us to make the deadline . . . So we struck a print on Tuesday and got there on Thursday, and we had to screen on Sunday. So as you can imagine, it was terrifying. You work so hard on a film, and you make all these creative decisions that we know we respond to, but we don't know if the public will like it, or respond to the film. It was scary." --O'Connor to Anthony Kaufman in Indiewire (www.indiewire.com), November 24, 1999

"It started after we screened 'Tumbleweeds' at Sundance. A woman at the Q&A asked me where I found the sensitivity to make a 'chick flick.' And honestly, I never thought that I was making a women's film, which people keep telling me I did. I said I would have approached it the same exact way if I was making a film about a father and son. To me, it's about people. With the exception of certain times of the month, I don't think men and women are that differnet. I really don't." --O'Connor to Time Out New York, November 25-December 2, 1999

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Angela Shelton. Actor, screenwriter. Co-wrote "Tumbleweeds"; eloped in 1994; divorced in 1996; acted in O'Connor's feature writing-directing debut, "Comfortably Numb".

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Greg O'Connor. Producer. Produced "Comfortably Numb" (1995) and "Tumbleweeds" (1999); Gavin's twin.

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