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Christopher McQuarrie

Christopher McQuarrie (born 1968) is an American screenwriter, director and producer. A regular collaborator of director Bryan Singer, he co-wrote the screenplay of Singer's Public Access, wrote the screenplay for The Usual Suspects and co-wrote Jack the Giant Slayer and Valkyrie. McQuarrie won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for The Usual Suspects, and created 2010 NBC television series Persons Unknown.

Christopher McQuarrie
Christopher McQuarrie (2).jpg
McQuarrie at the premiere of Jack Reacher in 2012
Born1968 (age 49–50)
Princeton, New Jersey or Princeton Junction, New Jersey, United States (sources differ)
OccupationScreenwriter, film producer, director
Years active1993–present

McQuarrie made his directorial debut in 2000 with The Way of the Gun. He is a frequent collaborator with Tom Cruise, having written and directed Jack Reacher, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and Mission: Impossible – Fallout. He was also part of the writing team on Cruise films Valkyrie, Edge of Tomorrow, The Mummy, and Top Gun: Maverick.


Early lifeEdit

McQuarrie was born in 1968 in either Princeton, New Jersey, or Princeton Junction, New Jersey, a nearby unincorporated community where he was raised.[1][2][3] After graduating from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South in 1986,[4] he worked as an assistant at Christ Church Grammar School in Perth, Western Australia, recalling in 2013, “I was offered an Interim program. ... I picked a place out of a hat and ended up at Christ Church Grammar School. I lived at the school and worked at the boarding school, though I did very little work".[5] Fired after nine months, "I hitchhiked for three months, came home, knocked around for about a month and then immediately started working for this detective agency.... [It] was actually a glorified security-guard position. I think in the four years I worked there I did about six investigations...."[6]

He had been acquainted with his future filmmaking collaborator, director-producer Bryan Singer, "from the time we were very little our parents were friends. I had been in one of his 8mm films."[6] They attended the same high school, with Singer two years ahead, and became friends after Singer's graduation. At 16, McQuarrie wrote a screenplay for an uncompleted film project with Singer, and stayed in contact through McQuarrie's early work years. Their first professional collaboration, Public Access came about following McQuarrie's decision to leave the detective agency move to California and try screenwriting — Bryan was already living there. And then I was offered my own agency in Florida. I was 22 years old, and was being given this opportunity to run my own business. So I called Bryan and he said, “Listen, I’d love to have you out here but there’s nothing going on; you should probably go to Florida.” So I told them I would do it ... and then, out of nowhere, it fell through. ... So I applied for the New York [City] Police Department [with a friend] and we both passed. As we were gearing up to do that, Bryan called. He had made a short film called "Lion’s Den", with Ethan Hawke –... and we tried to make a feature-length film out of it. The script was horrible. My parts of it were written by hand. So Bryan called me and said that these people had seen "Lion’s Den" and really liked it and had asked to see another script. And he made up a three-second pitch off the top of his head, which evolved into Public Access. ... He asked me if I wanted to write it. ... I wrote a draft in 15 days. ... Bryan then got Michael Dougan involved in the writing, and he came in and took this basically glorified episode of Murder, She Wrote and really darkened it up. I took a look at his rewrite and was like, "Oh, you mean I can be dark with it…"[6]


McQuarrie's first film as a screenwriter was 1993 thriller Public Access, directed by Bryan Singer. It won the Critics Award at the Deauville American Film Festival and shared the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize. The film did not secure a theatrical distributor in the United States [7] and film-critics aggregator Rotten Tomatoes,[8] later gave it a rating of only 50 percent positive.

Three years later, Singer and McQuarrie collaborated again for film The Usual Suspects (1995), for which McQuarrie received best screenplay awards from Premiere Magazine, the Texas Board of Review, and the Chicago Critics as well as the Edgar Award, The Independent Spirit Award, and the British and American Academy Awards. The film was later included on the New York Times list of the 1000 greatest films ever made, and the character Verbal Kint was included on AFI's list of the 100 greatest Heroes and Villains of all time. In 2006, the Writers Guild of America voted The Usual Suspects No. 35 on their list of 101 Greatest Screenplays.

In 2000, McQuarrie made his directorial debut with The Way of the Gun, a modern-day Western for which he also wrote the script. It starred Benicio del Toro, Ryan Phillippe and James Caan. The film, budgeted at US$8.5 million,[9] received mainly negative reviews [10] and performed poorly at the box office, grossing US$13 million worldwide.[9]

Eight years later, McQuarrie co-wrote and co-produced Valkyrie, which opened on December 25, 2008. The story is based on the real-life July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The script was co-written with Nathan Alexander. The pair had access to members of the Stauffenberg family as well as a book written by Fabian von Schlabrendorff – a conspirator who survived.[11] While doing research for the screenplay, they also spoke with Hitler's bodyguard.[citation needed] The film stars Tom Cruise and is directed by Bryan Singer. It received two awards, the BMI Film Music Award and the Bambi Award for Courage.[citation needed]

In 2010, McQuarrie co-wrote Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. The film grossed US$278 million worldwide.[12] It received three Golden Globe Award nominations and several other awards, among them the Redbox Movie Award for the most rented drama of 2011.[citation needed]

In 2012 McQuarrie directed his second feature. Jack Reacher was an adaptation of One Shot, the ninth in the series of 21 Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. Paramount Pictures released the film. Filming began in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area on October 3, 2011, and continued through the end of January 2012. The movie was released in December 2012.[13]

2013 saw the release of McQuarrie's fourth collaboration with Singer: Jack the Giant Slayer, co-written by McQuarrie. The film was a failure at the box office, grossing only US$198 million with an estimated US$240 million budget (excluding promotional fees).[14] The critical reviews were generally negative.[15] McQuarrie co-wrote the 2014 science fiction action thriller Edge of Tomorrow with Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill While the film underperformed at the box office on its opening weekend with only US$28.8 million, it received strong reviews and became a word-of-mouth hit, grossing just over US$100 million at the domestic box office.

McQuarrie completed his third feature as director in 2015. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth entry in the Mission: Impossible film series, which he co-wrote with Drew Pearce. The film received strong reviews and grossed over US$195 million at the North American box office. McQuarrie followed it with Mission: Impossible – Fallout in 2018, which marked his fifth collaboration with Tom Cruise (and the third Cruise film McQuarrie has directed). The film was a hit, and also received strong reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and other critic websites.

McQuarrie is currently slated to helm a feature film adaptation of the 1970s animated series Star Blazers (itself an adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato), with Zach Dean as screenwriter.[16] He has been attached to the project since February 2011.[17]



Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1993 Public Access No Yes No
1995 The Usual Suspects No Yes No Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay
2000 The Way of the Gun Yes Yes No Directorial debut
X-Men No uncredited No
2008 Valkyrie No Yes Yes
2010 The Tourist No Yes No
2012 Jack Reacher Yes Yes No
2013 The Wolverine No uncredited No
Jack the Giant Slayer No Yes No
2014 Edge of Tomorrow No Yes No
2015 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Yes Yes No
2016 Jack Reacher: Never Go Back No No Yes
2017 The Mummy No Yes No
2018 Mission: Impossible – Fallout Yes Yes Yes
2020 Top Gun: Maverick No Yes No Filming


Year Title Writer Producer Creator/Showrunner Notes
1994 NYPD Blue Yes No No
1997 The Underworld Yes No No
2010 Persons Unknown Yes executive Yes


  • McQuarrie, Christopher. The Usual Suspects. Faber and Faber Publishers (1996); ISBN 0571191533/ISBN 9780571191536


  1. ^ Different sources — and in the case of All Movie Guide, the same source — give both places. Note that Princeton Junction has no hospital.
  2. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Christopher McQuarrie". All Movie Guide / Rovi via The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2012. Birthplace: Princeton, New Jersey, USA ... Born in Princeton Junction, NJ, in 1968...
  3. ^ "Christopher McQuarrie". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015. Birth Place: Princeton, New Jersey, USA
  4. ^ Miller, Lynn (December 15, 2007). "More West Windsor Filmmaking Stars on the Horizon". West Windsor & Plainsboro News. West Windsor, New Jersey. Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. Retrieved December 15, 2007. Two West Windsor-Plainsboro High School graduates are following in the footsteps of two other filmmakers from West Windsor, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie. Singer, Class of 1984, and McQuarrie, Class of 1986, have recently joined together for the filming of 'Valkyrie'... Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. Note: Name was simply West Windsor-Plainsboro High School until being renamed West Windosor-Plainsboro High School South in 1997.
  5. ^ Harvey, Shannon (January 3, 2013). "Reaching for the Stars". The West Australian. p. 52. Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Pelan, Tim (March 12, 2014). "Christopher McQuarrie Gets Verbal On The Usual Suspects". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  7. ^ Stax (December 9, 2002). "Featured Filmmaker: Bryan Singer". IGN. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  8. ^ "Public Access". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  9. ^ a b "The Way of the Gun". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  10. ^ The Way of the Gun critical reviews,; accessed August 28, 2014.
  11. ^ "Christopher McQuarrie: Valkyrie". December 24, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2008..
  12. ^ "The Tourist". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Falk, Joshua (September 9, 2011). "Tom Cruise movie 'One Shot' confirmed for Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  14. ^ Jack the Giant Slayer box office receipts,; accessed August 28, 2014.
  15. ^ Jack the Giant Slayer reviews,; accessed August 28, 2014.
  16. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike (June 21, 2018). "Imagine Buys Zach Dean Pitch 'Canary' As Ron Howard Directing Vehicle". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  17. ^ Goldberg, Matt (February 21, 2011). "Christopher McQuarrie to Write STAR BLAZERS Adaptation for Skydance Productions". Collider. Retrieved September 3, 2018.

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