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Anthony McCarten (born 1961) is a New Zealand-born novelist, playwright, journalist, television writer and filmmaker. He is best known for writing the biopics The Theory of Everything (2014), Darkest Hour (2017), Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and The Two Popes (2019)

Anthony McCarten
Anthony McCarten in 2012
Anthony McCarten in 2012
Born1961 (age 57–58)
New Plymouth, New Zealand
OccupationScreenwriter, novelist, playwright, television writer, filmmaker
ResidenceLondon, England
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Munich, Germany
CitizenshipNew Zealand
Alma materMassey University
Victoria University of Wellington

Early lifeEdit

McCarten was born and raised in New Plymouth, New Zealand,[1] and attended Francis Douglas Memorial College. He worked as a reporter for a couple of years on The Taranaki Herald before studying for an Arts degree at Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington, where he studied creative writing with Bill Manhire. After leaving university, McCarten played in a production of King Lear.[1][2]


A three time Academy Award-nominated and double BAFTA-winning screenwriter and producer of the films The Theory Of Everything and Darkest Hour, his film Bohemian Rhapsody became the biggest grossing drama[3] and/or biopic of all time in 2018,[4] winning the 2019 Golden Globe for Best Picture (drama),[5] earning over $900 million at the box office, and was nominated for the 2019 Academy Award for Best Picture.[6] He is also a celebrated novelist and author of seven novels, receiving early international success with his play Ladies Night.[1] In 2015 he was inducted as a Literary Fellow of the New Zealand Society of Authors.


McCarten's novels have been translated into 14 languages. His first novel, Spinners (Picador, 2000), was voted one of the top ten novels of that year by Esquire magazine. His third novel, Death of a Superhero, won the 2008 Austrian Youth Literature Prize and was a finalist for the 2008 German Youth Literature Prize.

The sequel novel to this story, In The Absence Of Heroes, was published in 2012, and was a finalist for the 2013 New Zealand Fiction Prize and was Longlisted for the 2014 Dublin International IMPAC Literary Award. Also in 2013 came Brilliance (Alma Books (UK), Hawthorne Books (USA), the Gilded Age story of Thomas Edison, the legendary inventor of the first commercially practical incandescent light, and his transforming friendship with the giant of the late 19th-century financial world, J.P. Morgan.

In 2005, McCarten adapted his second novel, The English Harem, for the screen. It was broadcast on ITV in December 2005. In 2007, he wrote the novel Death of a Superhero, then adapted the screenplay, executive produced the film, and wrote the book of the stage musical. His fourth novel, Show Of Hands, was published in Europe, and in the US by Simon and Schuster in 2009. McCarten has already directed the big screen adaptation and the movie had its world premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival, 2008, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the New Zealand Film Awards.

Nonfiction booksEdit

In June, 2018, his work of historical non-fiction, Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought Us Back From The Brink ranked number 1 on the UK non-fiction charts, enjoying ten weeks as a Sunday Times Bestseller.


Via Satellite, which McCarten adapted from his own stage play, and directed himself, was invited to several film festivals including London, Cannes, Toronto, Melbourne, Hawaii and Seattle. His follow-up feature as writer/director, Show of Hands (2008), premiered at the Montreal International Film Festival and was an official selection for the Shanghai Film Festival 2009.

In 2011, his adaptation of his own novel Death of a Superhero had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, won the 2011 Les Arcs European Film Festival Audience Choice Prize and Young Jury Prize, and the Audience Award and 'Special Mention' of the Jury at the Mamer-en-Mars European Film Festival. It had its US premiere at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

McCarten produced and wrote The Theory of Everything (2014), concerning the life of Prof. Stephen Hawking, and his first wife, Jane Hawking. He first initiated talks with Jane to acquire the rights to her autobiography, Travelling to Infinity, in 2004, and shortly after began work on the screenplay, which took its inspiration from her book.

On 15 January 2015, the film received 5 Academy Award nominations, with McCarten earning two as producer and screenwriter in the categories of Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. He won two BAFTA awards for his roles as producer Best British Film and screenwriter Best Adapted Screenplay.

In 2017, McCarten wrote and co-produced a film about Winston Churchill, Darkest Hour where, famously, Churchill took a trip on the London Underground. It stars Gary Oldman as Churchill, who has received critical acclaim for his performance. The film received 6 Academy Award nominations, with McCarten earning one as producer in the category of Best Picture. He was nominated also for two BAFTA awards for his role as producer, Best British Film and Best Film.

McCarten wrote Bohemian Rhapsody, the Queen biopic that reached Number 1 at the box office in the US, UK, France, Germany, and all major markets, recording the second biggest opening weekend in history for a musical biography.

In 2019, his adaption of his own stage-play for the The Two Popes has its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.

Personal lifeEdit

McCarten divides his time between London, Los Angeles and Munich. He has three children.

Selected worksEdit


  • Spinners Random House New Zealand (1999) Harper Perennial (US) (2001)
  • The English Harem Picador (2002), reprinted (film-tie-in) Alma Books (2006)
  • Brilliance (2006) Hawthorne Books (US), Alma Books (UK) Random House (NZ) Diogenes (Germany)
  • Death of a Superhero Alma Books (2006, 2007)
  • Show of Hands (2008) Diogenes (Germ.), Simon and Schuster (US), Random House (NZ)
  • In the Absence of Heroes (2012) Random House (NZ), Diogenes (Germ.)
  • funnygirl (2015) Alma Books (UK), Random House (NZ) Diogenes (Germany)


  • Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought Us Back from the Brink (2017) Penguin/Viking (UK), Harper Collins (US)
  • The Pope: Francis, Benedict, and the Decision That Shook the World (2019) Flatiron Books (US)



  • Invitation to a Second Class Carriage. Depot Theatre, Wellington, 1984.
  • Yellow Canary Mazurka. Circa, 1987.
  • Ladies Night. With Stephen Sinclair. Mercury, 1987.
  • Pigeon English. Playwrights' Workshop, 1988; Depot, 1989.
  • Weed. Circa, 1990.
  • Via Satellite. Circa, 1991, and the winner of the NZ Listener Best Play and Wellington Theatre Critics' Best Production awards for 1991.
  • Hang on a Minute, Mate. Downstage, 1992.
  • Ladies' Night 2. With Stephen Sinclair. Mercury, 1992.
  • FILTH (Failed in London, Try Hong Kong). Circa, 1995.
  • Four Cities aka "Continental Breakfast". Los Angeles, 1996.
  • The Pope, 2017
  • Tuesday At Warrens, Fridays at Bills, 2018


  • Death of a Superhero (2014; book by McCarten and music by Paul Brown)


  1. ^ a b c Saltmarsh, Matthew (24 May 2008). "From sex comedy to exiles: Prolific New Zealander's worldwide reach". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Anthony McCarten profile". Authortrek. Archived from the original on 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  3. ^ Mendelson, Scott (7 January 2019). "Bryan Singer Golden Globes Winning 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Is The Highest Grossing Drama Of All Time". Forbes Magazine.
  4. ^ Chilton, Bart (26 November 2018). "Bohemian Blockchain Rhapsody: Lessons to be Learned from Queen & Freddie". Forbes Magazine.
  5. ^ Aridi, Compiled by Sara (2019-01-06). "Golden Globe Winners 2019: The Complete List". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-07.
  6. ^ Staff, Variety (2019-01-22). "Oscar Nominations 2019: The Complete List". Variety. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-01-22.

External linksEdit