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Rob Cohen (born March 12, 1949) is an American director of film and television, producer and screenwriter.

Rob Cohen
US Navy 040618-N-6817C-090 Director Rob Cohen visits with Commanding Officer, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Capt. Kendall L. Card, on the bridge after the completion of filming, the upcoming motion picture Stealth (cropped).JPG
Cohen on the bridge of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in June 2004
Born (1949-03-12) March 12, 1949 (age 69)
Alma materHarvard University
OccupationFilm director, producer, actor, screenwriter
Years active1975–present

Cohen began his career as a producer, before concentrating full-time on directing from the 1990s, with action films such as xXx, along with fantasy films like Dragonheart and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. He directed the first The Fast and the Furious film in 2001.


Early lifeEdit

Cohen was born in Cornwall, New York. He attended Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in the class of 1971, after transferring from Amherst College after two years[1] concentrating in a cross major between anthropology and visual studies. His first endeavor in filmmaking was a commissioned recruiting film for Harvard's Admissions Office in 1970, which became his senior thesis.

Upon graduation, Cohen immediately headed to Los Angeles to work as a screenwriter for Martin Jurow but soon found himself unemployed when the producer moved out of state.

After a six-month stint as a kennel boy at the Harvey Animal Hospital in West Hollywood to make ends meet, Cohen landed a job as a reader for then-agent Mike Medavoy. Six weeks into his tenure at International Famous Agency (now part of ICM), he distinguished himself by discovering an unheralded script he found in a slush pile of neglected screenplays. Recognizing its quality, commerciality and uniqueness, Cohen wrote in his coverage that it was "the great American screenplay and this will make an award-winning, major-cast, major-director film."[1] He championed the piece relentlessly, with his own job at stake, as Medavoy said that he would try to sell it on that recommendation, but promising to fire Cohen if he could not. Universal bought it that afternoon for a record price, and it became the Academy Award winning movie The Sting (1973). Cohen still keeps the coverage framed on the wall of his office, as this gave him his first identity in Hollywood: "the kid who found The Sting."[2]

Film careerEdit


With a career in film and television spanning more than 40 years, Cohen has distinguished himself as a celebrated screenwriter, producer and director. In 1973, 20th Century Fox Television hired Cohen as ‘Head of Current Programming’ helping out with, among other shows, the first year of the epic hit, M*A*S*H. Eager to push Fox into ‘long form’, Cohen cold called the head of ABC and introduced himself as ‘the head of television movies at Fox’. Barry Diller gave him a meeting where he sold two TV films on the spot, properties he had found in the voluminous books of Fox's unproduced properties. A week later, he duplicated the feat at CBS under Philip Barry. Fox president, William Edwin Self, was not happy that a junior employee had garnered these commitments without permission but grudgingly gave Cohen the title Vice President of TV Movies.[3]

Diller recommended Cohen to his friend impresario, songwriter, producer and record label founder Berry Gordy who was looking to bring his company Motown into the film business. He and Gordy connected and he was hired to be the Executive Vice President and head of Motown's motion picture division.[4]

Cohen went to work and developed the first Motown movie from his own idea about the burgeoning phenomenon of African American Super Models he felt was perfect for Motown star Diana Ross. He sold the package to Paramount and in 1974, the cameras rolled on Mahogany in Chicago and Rome. At the same time, he developed a unique film from the Bill Brashler novel The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) starring Billy Dee Williams, James Earl Jones and Richard Pryor. To direct, he hired a then unknown TV director John Badham to make his feature debut, a critical hit set in the 1930s Negro National League (1920–31) (twenty years later, he and Badham would partner again to make a number of successful films at Universal Studios).

Departing Motown in 1978, Cohen went on to produce and direct films and television series, including Miami Vice, Light of Day,[5] The Witches of Eastwick, Ironweed, and The Wiz.


From 1990 onwards, Cohen moved into directing full-time. Much success followed with early 1990s films such as Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Dragonheart, Daylight and the Golden Globe award-winning film The Rat Pack (film).

At 52, Cohen had become an action director, directing the 2001 film, The Fast and The Furious. The film was a hit, opening with $40 million its first weekend,[6] starring relative unknowns Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.

With the success of The Fast and the Furious, Cohen partnered up with Vin Diesel again the following year to direct XXX.

In 2008, he directed the third installment of The Mummy, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, grossing $405 million worldwide,[7] and he directed Blumhouse Productions' The Boy Next Door starring Jennifer Lopez in 2015.

Cohen is also a director of commercials, housed at Original Film, having made over 150 television commercials for products such Disney's Star Wars, Verizon, Ford, GM, Mercedes, Chevy, Saab and Burger King among many others.

Personal lifeEdit

Rob Cohen is the father of four children.[citation needed] He is an avid surfer, with homes in Bali, Indonesia and Los Angeles, California.[citation needed]



As directorEdit

Year Film Director Writer
1980 A Small Circle of Friends Yes No
1984 Scandalous Yes Yes
1993 Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story Yes Yes
1996 Dragonheart Yes No
Daylight Yes No
2000 The Skulls Yes No
2001 The Fast and the Furious Yes No
2002 XXX Yes No
2005 Stealth Yes No
2008 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Yes No
2012 Alex Cross Yes No
2015 The Boy Next Door Yes No
2018 The Hurricane Heist Yes No

As producerEdit

Year Film Notes
1975 Mahogany
1976 The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
1977 Scott Joplin Executive producer
1978 Thank God It's Friday
Almost Summer
The Wiz
1984 The Razor's Edge Executive producer
1985 The Legend of Billie Jean
1987 Light of Day
The Witches of Eastwick Executive producer
The Monster Squad
The Running Man
1988 The Serpent and the Rainbow
1989 Disorganized Crime
1990 Bird on a Wire
1991 The Hard Way
2005 XXX: State of the Union Executive producer


Year Film Director Writer Producer Notes
1979 Amateur Night at the Dixie Bar and Grill No No executive
1984 Miami Vice Yes No No Episode "Made for Each Other", "Evan" and "Definitely Miami"
1987 Hooperman Yes No No
Thirtysomething Yes No No 2 episodes
1988 Almost Grown Yes No No 4 episodes
1991 The Antagonists Yes No No Pilot episode
1994 Vanishing Son No Yes executive Creator
1997 The Guardian Yes No No
1998 The Rat Pack Yes No No
2005 The Last Ride No Story executive

Music videoEdit


  1. ^ "Rob Cohen".
  2. ^ Lussier, Germain (November 21, 2008). "Screenings: 'The Sting' as part of Paul Newman Retrospective".
  3. ^ "Rob Cohen".
  4. ^ "Rob Cohen". Fandango Media.
  5. ^ Maslin, Janet (February 6, 1987). [httpsต:// "FILM: 'LIGHT OF DAY,' A ROCK SAGA"] Check |url= value (help). The New York Times.
  6. ^ "The Fast and the Furious". Box Office Mojo.
  7. ^ "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor". Box Office Mojo.

External linksEdit