Shane Black

Shane Black (born December 16, 1961)[1] is an American filmmaker and actor who has written such films as Lethal Weapon and Lethal Weapon 2, The Monster Squad, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight. As an actor, Black is best known for his role as Rick Hawkins in Predator (1987).

Shane Black
Shane Black by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Born (1961-12-16) December 16, 1961 (age 58)
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles (BA)
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1986–present
Notable work
  • Paul Black
  • Patricia Ann Black
RelativesTerry Black (brother)

He made his directorial debut with the film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in 2005. Black went on to write and direct Iron Man 3 (2013), The Nice Guys (2016) and The Predator (2018).[2][3]

As of 2020, his film Iron Man 3 ranks as the twentieth-highest-grossing film worldwide.[4]

Early lifeEdit

Black was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,[5] the son of Paul and Patricia Ann Black. His father was in the printing business,[1] and helped Black get an interest in hardboiled fiction, such as the works of Mickey Spillane and the Matt Helm series.[6]

After living in the suburbs of Lower Burrell and Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, his family moved to Fullerton, California, during his sophomore year of high school.[5] There he attended Sunny Hills High School[7] and later UCLA where he majored in film and theater and graduated in 1983.[8] While Black had a long history writing comic strips, short stories, and journalism, only during his senior year did he decide to make a living from it once his classmate Fred Dekker showed him a science fiction script he did for an assignment.[6] Black's older brother Terry also wrote short stories and decided to move into screenplays starting with 1988's Dead Heat, in which Shane has a cameo.[9]


Screenwriting and actingEdit

After graduating, Black worked as a typist for a temp agency, a data entry clerk for the 1984 Summer Olympics and an usher in a Westwood movie theater. Eventually he asked for financial support of his parents during the six-month development of a script, The Shadow Company, a supernatural thriller set in Vietnam.[6] With Dekker's help, the script landed him an agent and several lunch meetings with mid-level studio executives. This attracted 20th Century Fox executives, who were interested in having Black rewrite scripts.[10] Eventually Black wrote an action film script, Lethal Weapon, in about six weeks, which landed him a $250,000 deal with Warner Bros. During the rewrites, Black asked producer Joel Silver for a small acting role in another film Silver was preparing at the time, Predator, a film for which Black also made uncredited contributions to the script. At the same time, Black helped Dekker write The Monster Squad, which along with Lethal Weapon and Predator came out in 1987.[6] Since then, Black has acted in five additional films and in two episodes for the TV series Dark Justice.

Once Warner Bros. requested a Lethal Weapon sequel, Black wrote the first draft of Lethal Weapon 2 with the help of novelist Warren Murphy. Although it was not used, Black said in later interviews that Warner Bros. did not like his original script for Lethal Weapon 2, which was also titled Play Dirty, because of how dark and violent it was and due to his decision to kill off main character Martin Riggs in the ending of the script. Nevertheless, other people thought that his script was brilliant, and he himself considers it to be his best work and the best script he has ever written.[11][12][13] Although many fans have tried to find a copy of it, Black's version of the script was never released.

Feeling burned out and having conflicts with the studio, Black left the project after six months, earning only $125,000 (out of a $250,000 payment split with Murphy) for his work.[6][10] After two sabbatical years, Black decided to take on an old idea of his that emerged during the production of Lethal Weapon and turn it into a full screenplay. The result, The Last Boy Scout, earned him $1.75 million in 1991.[10] Black would also earn $1 million for his rewrite of Last Action Hero in 1993.[14] He would set a record by receiving $4 million for writing The Long Kiss Goodnight in 1994.[15]


Black made his directorial debut with 2005's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and later directed (and co-wrote with Drew Pearce) 2013's Iron Man 3, which ranks as the fifteenth-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide.[4]

Black next directed and co-wrote Edge, a pilot for a potential series for Amazon Studios. The film was released on VOD but not picked up for a series. He followed this with the action comedy The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, and produced by Joel Silver.[16] Warner Bros. handled North American rights to the film,[17] which was released on May 20, 2016.[18]

Black next directed the fourth non-Alien-related film in the Predator series, The Predator, which he co-wrote with Fred Dekker.[2][19][2][3] The film was released on September 14, 2018.[20]

Black's next projects included an adaptation of Doc Savage,[21][22] and The Destroyer, based on the series of paperback adventure novels that previously inspired the 1985 film Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, starring Fred Ward. He was also briefly attached by Warner Bros. in 2011, to direct a live-action American adaptation of the popular Japanese supernatural-thriller manga series Death Note, bringing his close collaborators Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry to write the screenplay, replacing Charley and Vlas Parlapanides as the project's previous screenwriters. However, by 2014, he had quietly left the project, due to reported creative differences and other commitments. The studio had intended to omit "Shinigamis" (Japanese gods of death), who were originally present in the manga series, from the film's storyline, and revamp the main character: Light Yagami, into a more benevolent and sympathetic protagonist and change the story's moral theme of justice into one of vengeance, which Black had opposed, who intended to create a more faithful adaptation of the original manga. Adding to that, he decided to focus more on his Doc Savage and Predator projects, which resulted in his absence from the project's later developments and horror director Adam Wingard being eventually hired to helm the project by 2015. He left Doc Savage in 2020.


Black has a recognizable writing style characterized by stories in which two main characters become friends and trade witty dialogue, featuring labyrinthine crime plots, often set during Christmas time.[23] The quips he incorporates into his scripts are referred to as "Shane Blackisms", in which jokes about the story situations are included in the scene directions of the script.[24] He also sometimes directs comments at studio executives and script readers. Examples of these include:

From Lethal Weapon:

EXT. POSH BEVERLY HILLS HOME – TWILIGHT The kind of house that I'll buy if this movie is a huge hit. Chrome. Glass. Carved wood. Plus an outdoor solarium: A glass structure, like a greenhouse only there's a big swimming pool inside. This is a really great place to have sex.[25]

From The Last Boy Scout:

Remember Jimmy's friend, Henry, who we met briefly near the opening of the film? Of course you do, you're a highly-paid reader or development person.

This approach, which Black summed as "more open to the reader" and aimed at "trying to keep people awake", was described by himself as a combination of William Goldman, his mentor in screenwriting, and Walter Hill, who had a "terse and Spartan, punchy prose".[26] Black gave a list of techniques he uses when writing films in an interview with The Guardian.[27]

He has used kidnapping as a plot device in several films: Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys.

Black explains that Christmas, which has been used as a backdrop in Lethal Weapon, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys, is a touchstone for him, explaining:[23]

Christmas represents a little stutter in the march of days, a hush in which we have a chance to assess and retrospect our lives. I tend to think also that it just informs as a backdrop. The first time I noticed it was Three Days of the Condor, the Sydney Pollack film, where Christmas in the background adds this really odd, chilling counterpoint to the espionage plot. I also think that Christmas is just a thing of beauty, especially as it applies to places like Los Angeles, where it's not so obvious, and you have to dig for it, like little nuggets. One night, on Christmas Eve, I walked past a Mexican lunch wagon serving tacos, and I saw this little string, and on it was a little broken plastic figurine, with a light bulb inside it, of the Virgin Mary. And I thought, that's just a little hidden piece of magic. You know, all around the city are little slices, little icons of Christmas, that are as effective and beautiful in and of themselves as any 40-foot Christmas tree on the lawn of the White House. So that, in a lot of words, is the answer.[23]

Predator casting controversyEdit

Black hired his friend, Steven Wilder Striegel, for a minor, un-auditioned role in The Predator (as well as, previously, Iron Man 3 and The Nice Guys). Striegel spent six months in prison in 2010, having pleaded guilty to risk of injury to a child and enticing a minor by computer after he had attempted to lure a 14-year-old girl into a sexual relationship via email. Black defended this decision and his friend until backlash forced him to later rescinding those comments. Olivia Munn, an actress in The Predator, insisted on having a scene with Striegel removed.[28][29] Black released an apology publicly.

Awards and honorsEdit

Black received the Distinguished Screenwriter Award from the Austin Film Festival October 21, 2006. In 2005, he received the Best Original Screenplay award for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang from the San Diego Film Critics Association.



Title Year Director Writer Producer Notes
Lethal Weapon 1987 No Yes No
The Monster Squad No Yes No
Lethal Weapon 2 1989 No Story No
The Last Boy Scout 1991 No Yes Executive
Last Action Hero 1993 No Yes No
The Long Kiss Goodnight 1996 No Yes Yes
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 2005 Yes Yes No Directorial Debut
A.W.O.L. 2006 No Yes Executive Short film[30]
Iron Man 3 2013 Yes Yes No
The Nice Guys 2016 Yes Yes No
The Predator 2018 Yes Yes No

Uncredited script doctor


Title Year Director Writer Producer Notes
Edge 2015 Yes Yes Yes TV movie
Lethal Weapon 2016 No Story No Episode "Pilot"

Acting creditsEdit

Title Year Role Notes
Night of the Creeps 1986 Cop in Police Station Uncredited
Predator 1987 Rick Hawkins
Dead Heat 1988 Patrolman
The Hunt for Red October 1990 USS Reuben James Crewman Uncredited
Dark Justice 1991-1993 Caldecott Rush Television series (3 episodes)
RoboCop 3 1993 Donnelly
Mike the Detective Mike Short film
Night Realm 1994 Unknown
As Good as It Gets 1997 Brian, Cafe 24 manager
An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn Himself Cameo
The Boy Scout 2002 Henchman #2 Short film
Monkeys 2007 Unknown
Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter [31] 2013 Disembodied Voice Voice only; short film
Any Day 2015 Gino
Swing State 2016 Luke
Wild Nothing 2018 Phil Short film


  1. ^ a b "Shane Black Biography (1961-)". Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Chitwood, Adam (June 25, 2014). "Exclusive: Shane Black Says His PREDATOR Film Is a Sequel, Not a Reboot". Collider. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Kit, Borys (June 23, 2014). "Fox Rebooting 'Predator' With Shane Black (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "All Time Worldwide Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Vancheri, Barbara (June 8, 2012). "Film Notes: A local connection to 'Iron Man 3'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Archived from the original on November 17, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e Greenberg, James. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Millionaire. Los Angeles Times
  7. ^ Winters, Laura. "Shane Black, Coming Back With a 'Bang': 'Lethal Weapon' Writer Rearms With Sendup", Washington Post, November 6, 2005, retrieved June 29, 2007.
  8. ^ "2017 newsletter". UCLA School of TFT. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  9. ^ "His Wishes Upon A Set Come True". LA Times. September 24, 1987.
  10. ^ a b c Million Dollar Babies, New York Magazine
  11. ^ ""I Like Violence" - Shane Black".
  12. ^ "Close Call for Mel". January 1, 1989 – via LA Times.
  13. ^ Saroyan, Strawberry (May 1, 2005). "The end of a fade for Black" – via LA Times.
  14. ^ "Taylor, Thom". The Big Deal: Hollywood's Million-Dollar Spec Script Market. Harper Perennial. 1999.
  15. ^ "HOLLYWOOD HABITS : Following the Script of a High-Stakes Movie Bidding War : New Line Cinema buys Shane Black's latest screenplay for a record $4 million. Here's how the deal was done". latimes. July 27, 1994.
  16. ^ "Ryan Gosling & Russell Crowe May Be 'Nice Guys' for Shane Black". June 12, 2014. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  17. ^ "Warner Bros In 'Nice Guys' Talks With Shane Black, Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling".
  18. ^ "Russell Crowe-Ryan Gosling Pic 'The Nice Guys' Gets Summer 2016 Release Date".
  19. ^ Miska, Brad (June 23, 2014). "Fred Dekker's 'Predator' Script Completed!". BD. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  20. ^ "'The Predator,' 'Alita Battle Angel,' and 'Death on the Nile' Get New Release Dates". Slashfilm. February 13, 2018.
  21. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (February 22, 2010). "Columbia revives Doc Savage". Variety. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
  22. ^ "'Iron Man 3' Director Shane Black to Direct 'Doc Savage' for Sony". Archived from the original on April 7, 2014.
  23. ^ a b c Collis, Clark (May 25, 2016). "The Nice Guys director Shane Black explains his obsession with Christmas: 'It's just a thing of beauty'". Entertainment Weekly.
  24. ^ "WordPlay: Column 23". Terry Rossio, 1997. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  25. ^ "Lethal Weapon, script". The Daily Script. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
  26. ^ Psycho Pension: The Genesis of Lethal Weapon (Documentary)|format= requires |url= (help). Lethal Weapon Collection, disk 5: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. 2012.CS1 maint: location (link)
  27. ^ Delaney, Sam (May 22, 2009). "Crash, bang, wallop what a picture". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 23, 2009.
  28. ^ Kaufman, Amy (September 6, 2018). "Twentieth Century Fox pulls scene from 'The Predator' after director Shane Black casts his friend, a registered sex offender". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  29. ^ Deerwester, Jayme (September 11, 2018). "'Predator's Olivia Munn tells Ellen, 'I don't want this career' if it means staying quiet". USA Today. Retrieved September 12, 2018.
  30. ^ Writting credited as "Holly Martins", also executive producer credit as "Harry Lime"
  31. ^ Fletcher, Rosie (July 19, 2013). "Marvel's Agent Carter reaction: Comic-Con 2013". TotalFilm. Retrieved July 21, 2013.

External linksEdit