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Robert Zemeckis

Robert Zemeckis

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Also Known As: Robert Lee Zemeckis Died:
Born: May 14, 1952 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: director, producer, screenwriter, actor, editor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

With a flair for special effects and an impressive track record for eliciting strong performances, director Robert Zemeckis emerged from the University of Southern California's film school to become a potent filmmaking force in Hollywood. Though his first professional job was writing the script for Steven Spielberg's much-maligned World War II comedy "1941" (1979), Zemeckis staked his reputation as a hit maker with his third directing effort, "Romancing the Stone" (1984), which became a surprise box office success despite low expectations. But it was his next film, "Back to the Future" (1985) that cemented his place in Hollywood as a reliable director of both commercially successful and critically acclaimed movies. By this time, he was earning a reputation for pushing the boundaries of technology onscreen, though often with some criticism for focusing too much on visual effects. Still, Zemeckis continued to churn out hits, including the two "Back to the Future" sequels, as well as the animated-live action hybrid "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988). He achieved esteemed status when he won an Academy Award for his exemplary drama, "Forrest Gump" (1994), which, along with "Back to the Future, became a high...

With a flair for special effects and an impressive track record for eliciting strong performances, director Robert Zemeckis emerged from the University of Southern California's film school to become a potent filmmaking force in Hollywood. Though his first professional job was writing the script for Steven Spielberg's much-maligned World War II comedy "1941" (1979), Zemeckis staked his reputation as a hit maker with his third directing effort, "Romancing the Stone" (1984), which became a surprise box office success despite low expectations. But it was his next film, "Back to the Future" (1985) that cemented his place in Hollywood as a reliable director of both commercially successful and critically acclaimed movies. By this time, he was earning a reputation for pushing the boundaries of technology onscreen, though often with some criticism for focusing too much on visual effects. Still, Zemeckis continued to churn out hits, including the two "Back to the Future" sequels, as well as the animated-live action hybrid "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988). He achieved esteemed status when he won an Academy Award for his exemplary drama, "Forrest Gump" (1994), which, along with "Back to the Future, became a high water mark in his career. Though he slipped a bit with efforts like "Death Becomes Her" (1992), "Contact" (1997) and "What Lies Beneath" (2000), Zemeckis proved time and again with films like "Cast Away" (2000) and the groundbreaking "Polar Express" (2004) that he was capable of tackling challenging material while remaining commercially viable.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

2.
  Flight (2012)
3.
5.
  BEOWULF (2007)
6.
  Polar Express, The (2004) Director
7.
  What Lies Beneath (2000) Director
8.
  Cast Away (2000) Director
9.
  Contact (1997) Director
10.
  Forrest Gump (1994) Director

CAST: (feature film)

4.
6.
 75 Years of SuperStars (1998) Interviewee
7.
 75 Years of Blockbusters (1998) Interviewee
8.
 68th Annual Academy Awards, The (1996) Presenter
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, IL
:
Began making 8mm films in high school
1971:
Met future writing partner Bob Gale at USC
1972:
Directed first "professional" short "The Lift," an 8-minute student film
1973:
Made award-winning 14-minute student film "A Field of Honor"
:
Screened "A Field of Honor" for Steven Spielberg and John Milius, who helped him and Gale get a development deal for an original screenplay that became "1941"
1978:
Feature film directorial debut," I Wanna Hold Your Hand"; also co-wrote script with Gale
1979:
Co-wrote with Gale "1941," a sprawling comedy directed by Steven Spielberg
1980:
Helmed the comedy "Used Cars"
1984:
Enjoyed box-office hit as director of the adventure love story "Romancing the Stone"
1985:
With Gale, co-wrote the blockbuster "Back to the Future"; also directed
1986:
TV directing debut, "Go to the Head of the Class," an episode of "Amazing Stories"
1988:
Directed the live-action and animated combination "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
1989:
TV producing debut as one of the co-executive producers of "Tales From the Crypt," an HBO horror anthology series
1989:
Helmed the sequels "Back to the Future II" (1989) and "Back to the Future III" (1990) back to back
1991:
TV acting debut, "Parker Lewis Can't Lose!," a Fox sitcom that featured his then-wife Mary Ellen Trainor
1992:
Feature debut as executive producer, "The Public Eye"
1992:
Directed the black comedy "Death Becomes Her," featuring Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn
1992:
Scripted and executive produced "Trespass," helmed by Walter Hill
1993:
Produced first network TV series, "Johnny Bago," a CBS adventure-comedy series
1993:
Created and produced "Tales from the Cryptkeeper," an ABC animated series
1994:
Directed box office hit "Forest Gump," starring Tom Hanks; film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Director
1995:
Was one of the executive producers of the feature "Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knight"
1997:
Helmed the screen adaptation of Carl Sagan's book "Contact"; also produced
1998:
Served as a producer on the remake of "The House on Haunted Hill"
1999:
Made "Robert Zemeckis on Smoking, Drinking and Drugging in the 20th Century: In Pursuit of Happiness" for Showtime
2000:
Reunited with Tom Hanks as producer and director of "Cast Away"; filmed over a stretch of time in 1999-2000 with a break for Hanks to lose weight
2000:
During break from filming "Cast Away," produced and helmed the thriller "What Lies Beneath," starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer; film released before "Cast Away"
2004:
Helmed the animated feature "The Polar Express" starring Tom Hanks in several roles
2007:
Helmed the big-budget film version of "Beowulf," using the performance-capture technology utilized for "The Polar Express"
2009:
Wrote, directed and produced the animated adaptation of "A Christmas Carol"; Jim Carrey played several roles, including Ebenezer Scrooge
2012:
Returned to live action features as director and producer of "Flight," a drama starring Denzel Washington
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Northern Illinois University: De Kalb , Illinois -
University of Southern California: Los Angeles , California - 1973

Notes

Some sources list 1952 as the year of Mr. Zemeckis' birth.

Zemeckis was the first recipient of USC's Mary Pickford Alumni Award in 1995.

In October 1998, Zemeckis donated $5 million to the University of Southern California for the creation of a cutting-edge digital arts studio, known as the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts.

On discussing his and partner Bob Gale's taste in movies while in film school: "We like[d] Clint Eastwood movies, and we didn't get Godard." --Robert Zemeckis in Premiere, December 1989.

"Johnny Bago," an hour-long action-comedy with the emphasis on comedy, will follow the fractured tales of an ex-con named Johnny Tenuti [Peter Dobson], who's running for his life in a secondhand RV. Johnny Winnebago--Johnny Bago get it? We're not making this up. The series will debut on CBS in the spring. So what's this show like, Mr. Zemeckis? "Well, if you can imagine a Ralph Kramden for the '90s mixed with "The Fugitive," "Route 66," and "On the Road with Charles Kuralt," that's what "Johnny Bago" is like," the producer-director said. "We like to call it a random exploration of the burgs and byways of America ... " --From Daily News, January 21, 1993.

With deep emotional underpinnings, it ["Forrest Gump"] is not the sort of frenetic comedy that one would expect from Zemeckis. "One of the first conversations we had about this movie," [actor Tom] Hanks recalls, "was that this movie broke all his rules drilled into him to work on basic storytelling levels. There's no jeopardy. There's no clock running. Bob is a master at explaining the illogical, as in the "Back to the Future" movies, and having them make sense. But this is the opposite. He had to take this emotional story and put it in the trappings of a special effects epic in a way that was so natural, it served the human elements of the story, instead of how he usually works, where it serves the fantastic elements of the story." --From "Reality Bites Back" by David Kronke, Los Angeles Times Calendar, July 3, 1994.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Mary Ellen Trainor. Actor. Appeared in several films directed by Zemeckis, including "Romancing the Stone" (1984) and "Death Becomes Her" (1992); also acted in the TV series "Parker Lewis Can't Lose!", as Mrs. Lewis; other feature roles include the police psychiatrist in the three "Lethal Weapon" films; co-starred in TV series "Relativity" and had a recurring role on the WB series "Roswell"; separated c. 1997; divorced.
wife:
Leslie Harter. Actor. Eloped on December 4, 2001 in Venice, Italy.

Family close complete family listing

son:
Alexander Francis Zemeckis. Born on December 11, 1985; mother, Mary Ellen Trainor.

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