One of the most accomplished television directors of the early 21st century, Allen Coulter distinguished himself by helming a wide variety of quality projects, ranging from light comedy with "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) to searing drama on "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1999-2007), "Six Feet Under" (HBO, 2001-05) and "Damages" (FX, 2007-10; DirecTV, 2011-12). His success with these high-profile series netted him numerous award nominations and naturally led to a shot at a major studio feature with the period biopic "Hollywoodland" (2007). In all cases, Coulter proved he was among the most versatile and dependable directors working in the industry.
Born in College Station, TX, Coulter studied theater direction at the University of Texas before moving to New York City to pursue his love of film. Working odd jobs in New York, including messenger, he managed to scrape up enough money to make his first short film, "The Hobbs Case." After serving as 1st assistant director on the little-seen heist picture "The Great Bank Hoax" (1978), he earned his first professional credit as director on the syndicated horror anthology, "Tales of the Darkside" (1983-88). That show's production team, which included legendary independent director George Romero and producer Richard Rubinstein, later tapped Coulter to write and direct for their subsequent anthology series, "Monsters" (syndicated, 1988-1991).
Coulter eased his way onto more prominent projects, starting with 1991's "It's Only Rock & Roll," a feature for ABC's long-running "Afterschool Special" series (1972-1988). Stints as director for hire on short-lived programs like "Michael Hayes" (CBS, 1997-98) preceded more prestigious TV work on Chris Carter's science fiction thrillers "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002) and "Millennium" (Fox, 1996-99).
Coulter's first major milestone as a television director came in 1999 with "College," the fifth episode of the HBO flagship series, "The Sopranos." Regarded as one of the best entries in the much-lauded series' entire run, it assured him a position as one of the show's regular directors, with 12 episodes to his name over the course of five seasons. Coulter also served as one of its many producers for the remainder of the first and entire second seasons.
Coulter received considerable recognition for his work on "The Sopranos," including two Emmy nominations as producer, three nods from the Television Academy for his directing on the program, and two more from the Directors Guild of America. More importantly, "The Sopranos" made him a proven commodity for HBO's other primetime series, including "Sex and the City," "Six Feet Under" and "Rome" (HBO, 2005-07). For his efforts on "Sex and the City," he received two additional DGA nominations. Coulter's reputation as one of the most capable crime drama directors also afforded him an inroad to NBC, where he helmed an episode of the network's ambitious "Sopranos"-influenced miniseries, "Kingpin" (2003).
After developing a knack for creating what could be construed as hour-long features for so many HBO programs, it was natural that Coulter would make the transition to movies. In 2006, he made his big-screen directorial debut with "Hollywoodland," a well-crafted mystery-drama about a seedy detective (Adrien Brody) hired to look into the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of actor George Reeves (Ben Affleck in a reputation-reviving performance). Though praised by critics and the recipient of a Golden Lion nomination at the 2006 Venice Film Festival, "Hollywoodland" did only modest business in American theaters.
Coulter returned to television work for the FX Network, where he helmed pilots for their Emmy-winning drama "Damages" as well as "Sons of Anarchy" (2008-15). The former earned him another Emmy nomination for his direction in 2008. He also blended his too-infrequently-seen light touch with his "Sopranos" past when he directed an ad for Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign in 2007. The spot featured Senator Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton - both avowed "Sopranos" fans - eyeballing a restaurant menu a la Tony and Carmela. A cameo by actor Vincent Curatola, who played the reptilian Johnny Sack on the series, only added to the light-hearted nature of the spot.
Director (Feature Film)
Received first professional credit on the horror Sci-Fi series "Tales of the Darkside"
Directed and wrote for the syndicated series, "Monsters"
Directed for network shows such as "Prince Street" (NBC) and "Michael Hayes" (CBS)
Directed episodes of the popular Chris Carter sci-fi shows, "The X-Files" (Fox) and "Millennium" (Fox)
Directed the premiere episode of the HBO mob drama "The Sopranos," also produced; earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Directing for a Drama (2000, 2001, 2004)
Directed the successful HBO comedy series, "Sex and the City"; earned DGA nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in 2001 and 2002
Directed an episode of the HBO funeral drama "Six Feet Under"
Directed the pilot for the gritty drug-trafficking miniseries "Kingpin" (NBC)
Returned to HBO to direct an episode of the award-winning historical miniseries "Rome"
Made feature directorial debut with "Hollywoodland," which was inspired by the mysterious death of "Superman" star George Reeves
Directed the pilot episode of the FX drama, "Damages"; earned an Emmy (2008) nomination for directing
Directed the pilot episode of Showtime's "Nurse Jackie"; earned an Emmy nomination in 2010 for Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series
Helmed the romantic drama, "Remember Me," starring Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin
Directed two episodes of the HBO drama series, "Boardwalk Empire"
Nominated for the 2011 Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series ("Boardwalk Empire")