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William Monahan

William Monahan
William Monahan in October 2006
Born (1960-11-03) November 3, 1960
Dorchester, Massachusetts, United States
Occupation Screenwriter
Nationality American

William J. Monahan (born November 3, 1960) is an American screenwriter and novelist. His second produced screenplay was The Departed, a film that earned him a WGA award and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.


  • Writer and editor 1
  • Screenwriting career 2
    • Working scripts through production and after 2.1
    • Producing and directing 2.2
  • Credits 3
    • Novels 3.1
    • Films 3.2
    • Unproduced screenplays (selected) 3.3
    • Future projects 3.4
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
    • Interviews 5.1
  • External links 6

Writer and editor

Monahan was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studied Elizabethan and Jacobean drama.[1] He moved to New York City and contributed to the alternative weekly newspaper New York Press and the magazines Talk, Maxim, and Spy.[2][3] In 1997 Monahan won a Pushcart Prize for his short story "A Relation of Various Accidents Observable in Some Animals Included in Vacuo".[4][5] 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 articles and improve jokes.[2]

Monahan wrote a novel titled Light House: A Trifle, and Warner Bros. optioned the film rights.[6] In 1999 Talk magazine debuted, and Monahan contributed a travelogue on Gloucester, Massachusetts, to the first issue.[7] In 2000 Monahan's first novel, Light House: A Trifle, was finally published, and it 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."[8][9][10] 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.[11][12]

Screenwriting career

Warner Bros. optioned the film rights to the novel Light House: A Trifle.[13] 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.[6][14]

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 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]

Monahan steadily secured work in the film industry throughout the 2000s. 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 critically reappraised 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]

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."[14][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.[8]

Producing and directing

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]

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, 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 subsequently negotiated a turnaround deal to bring the The Long Play to Paramount.[31]

Monahan's directorial debut was London Boulevard, released in 2010.




Unproduced screenplays (selected)

Future projects


  1. ^ 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 March 7, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b Sam Allis (October 3, 2006). "Standing at the corner of Shakespeare and Scorsese". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 1, 2007. 
  3. ^ Dylan Callaghan (October 13, 2006). "A Man of Letters". Writers Guild of America, West. Retrieved January 1, 2007. 
  4. ^ William Georgiades (February 25, 2007). "Required Reading". The New York Post. Retrieved March 4, 2007. 
  5. ^ 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.  
  6. ^ a b Frosty (February 18, 2007). "William Monahan – Exclusive Interview". Retrieved February 20, 2007. 
  7. ^ Russ Smith (August 11, 1999). "MUGGER: I’m in Bermuda and Rick Lazio Isn’t". Jewish World Review. Retrieved March 8, 2007. 
  8. ^ a b "Van Morrison, Terry George and Bill Monahan honored in LA" (Press release). US-Ireland Alliance. February 26, 2007. Retrieved March 5, 2007. 
  9. ^ William Georgiades (July 23, 2000). "An Offshore Farce". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2007. 
  10. ^ Bruce Tierney (2000). "Review: Light House". BookPage Fiction. Retrieved March 15, 2007. 
  11. ^ William Monahan (June 21, 2001). "The Last Supper: Being eventually a PROPOSAL for a column called DINING LATE WITH CLAUDE LA BADARIAN". New York Press. Retrieved March 6, 2007. 
  12. ^ William Monahan (August 15, 2001). "That Asshole, Monahan by Claude La Badarian". New York Press. Retrieved March 9, 2007. 
  13. ^ Chris Petrikin, Dan Cox (January 12, 1999). Mars' loses Verbinski: Studio, director cannot agree"'". Variety. Retrieved January 7, 2007. 
  14. ^ a b c Susan Wloszczyna (February 15, 2007). "William Monahan: His 'Departed' left Hong Kong for the USA". USA Today. Retrieved February 25, 2007. 
  15. ^ Cathy Dunkley, Jonathan Bing (November 27, 2001). "Monahan 'Tripoli' spec lands on Gordon's shore". Variety. Retrieved January 5, 2007. 
  16. ^ Garth Franklin (May 4, 2005). """Interview: Ridley Scott "Kingdom of Heaven. Dark Horizons. Retrieved January 5, 2007. 
  17. ^ Stax (February 20, 2007). "Monahan Talks Tripoli: Will the Ridley Scott epic be resurrected?". IGN. Retrieved February 20, 2007. 
  18. ^ Claude Brodesser, Cathy Dunkley (February 12, 2004). "Scorsese takes on Hong Kong gangs: Pitt considering role in popular 'Infernal' redo". Variety. Retrieved January 6, 2007. 
  19. ^ Dade Hayes (December 14, 2006). "Brad Pitt's role as filmmaker threatens to eclipse his actorly exploits and tabloid profile". Variety. Retrieved March 3, 2007. 
  20. ^ James Berardinelli (2006). "Kingdom of Heaven: Director's Cut:A Film Review". Retrieved March 4, 2007. 
  21. ^ David S. Cohen, Justin Chang (February 25, 2007). "Oscar winners weigh in on victory: Backstage notes at the Academy Awards". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2007. 
  22. ^ Sam Allis (December 31, 2006). "The Storyteller". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 2, 2007. 
  23. ^ Wesley Morris (December 11, 2006). The Departed' tops Boston film critics' awards"'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 6, 2007. 
  24. ^ Departed' tops Chicago critics' list"'". Chicago Sun-Times. December 29, 2006. Retrieved January 6, 2007. 
  25. ^ "Oscar 2006: Southeastern Film Critics Select The Departed". Hollywood News. December 19, 2006. Retrieved January 6, 2007. 
  26. ^ Jay Fernandez (February 21, 2007). "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. Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  27. ^ Dave McNary (February 11, 2007). Departed' shines at WGA kudos: 'Miss' a hit with scribes"'". Variety. Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  28. ^ Gregg Kilday (February 26, 2007). "Scorsese cuffs Oscar: 'Departed' named best pic". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 2, 2007. 
  29. ^ Michael Fleming (October 5, 2006). Departed' scribe digs WB: Studio inks overall deal with Monahan"'". Variety. Retrieved January 5, 2007. 
  30. ^ Borys Kit (February 27, 2007). "Monahan, DiCaprio reconnect". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 2, 2007. 
  31. ^ Michael Fleming, Pamela McClintock (February 26, 2007). "Scorsese, Monahan ready to 'Play': 'Departed' duo rock on at Paramount". Variety. Retrieved March 2, 2007. 
  32. ^ "About This Book: Light House: A Trifle". Powell's Books. Retrieved March 8, 2007. 
  33. ^ Michael Fleming and Darcy Paquet (March 6, 2008). "Warner Bros. to remake 'The Chaser': Studio picks up rights to South Korean hit". Variety. 

Further reading

  • The shooting script for The Departed is available for download on Warner Bros. website


  • Dylan Callaghan (October 13, 2006). "A Man of Letters". Writers Guild of America, West. Retrieved January 1, 2007. 
  • Frosty (February 18, 2007). "William Monahan – Exclusive Interview". Retrieved February 20, 2007. 

External links

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