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Stephen Gaghan (born May 6, 1965) is an American screenwriter and director.[1] He is noted for writing the screenplay for Steven Soderbergh's film Traffic,[1] based on a Channel 4 series, for which he won the Academy Award,[2] as well as Syriana which he wrote and directed.

Stephen Gaghan
Stephen Gaghan (cropped).jpg
Born (1965-05-06) May 6, 1965 (age 54)
Alma materUniversity of Kentucky
Babson College
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter
Minnie Mortimer (m. 2007)
Partner(s)Michael McCraine (1997-200?)
Children4 (2 with McCraine, 2 with Mortimer)


Childhood and educationEdit

Gaghan was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of the former Elizabeth Jane Whorton and her first husband, Stephen Gaghan (d. 1980), and a stepson of Tom Haag. Gaghan attended Kentucky Country Day School, a college preparatory school in Louisville.[citation needed] He was an All-State soccer player where he held the assist record at the school for nearly three decades.[citation needed] He is a grandson of Jerry Gaghan, a newspaper columnist and drama critic for Variety and the Philadelphia Daily News.[3] Gaghan wrote in a 2001 article in Newsweek, "I also wanted to be a writer, like my grandfather, who carried a card in his wallet that read, "If you find me, call my son [my father] at this number..."[4]

In his final days of high school before graduation, Gaghan was expelled for driving a go-cart through the halls of the school. During the release of Traffic, a critic commented on one of the teen characters in the movie who is a drug addict and a straight-A student, calling it unrealistic, which Gaghan defended by stating that he had straight A's while he was addicted to drugs and alcohol. As Gaghan wrote in an article published in Newsweek in February 2001, "I wasn't much different from my peers, except where they could stop drinking after three or six or 10 drinks, I couldn't stop and wouldn't stop until I had progressed through marijuana, cocaine, heroin and, finally, crack and freebase--which seem for so many people to be the last stop on the elevator." Gaghan has stated that he began dealing with his addictions in 1997. "Over one long, five-day weekend, I had three separate heroin dealers get arrested," he said. "My dealer, my backup dealer and my backup-backup dealer. I was left alone, and I just hit that place, that total incomprehensible demoralization. That was the end of it; up five days straight, locked in the bathroom, convinced there was nowhere else to go, I had to kill myself, I'm going to kill myself. I just couldn't take another minute of it."[5]

He attended the University of Kentucky and was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity.[6] He was a student on the Fall 1986 Voyage of the "Semester at Sea" Study Abroad Program where he attended classes on board the SS Universe and sailed around the world. He attended Babson College in Massachusetts.[7] He also started a catalog company, Fallen Empire Inc., which he hoped would support his writing career.[citation needed]


Gaghan wrote the screenplay for Traffic, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2000. In addition to Traffic, Gaghan also directed and wrote the screenplays for Syriana (2005) and Abandon (2002), the former receiving comparable critical acclaim to Traffic, while the latter turned out to be a total fiasco. Other writing credits include Rules of Engagement (2000), Havoc (2005), and The Alamo (2004), as well as a handful of episodes of various television series. Gaghan turned down the chance to adapt Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code.

In his television writing career, he won an Emmy Award for co-writing a NYPD Blue episode entitled Where's Swaldo, in 1997. In addition to NYPD Blue, he has also written for The Practice and New York Undercover.

His next project is a film adaptation of Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. He has also been hired by Warner Bros. to write the screenplay of the Dead Spy Running franchise written by author Jon Stock.[8] He is also set to direct crime thriller Candy Store.[9]

On January 19, 2017 it was announced that Ubisoft had hired Gaghan to direct the film adaptation of the popular video game The Division[10], but is no longer attached.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Gaghan has a son Gardner (b. 1999) and a daughter Elizabeth (b. 2001) from a previous relationship with actress Michael McCraine, whom he met in 1997 while at a recovery meeting.[12] On May 19, 2007, Gaghan married Marion "Minnie" Mortimer.[12] Together they have a daughter, Tuesday (b. February 2, 2009),[13] and a son, Johnny (b. May 20, 2014).[14]


As directorEdit

As writerEdit

As actorEdit

As producerEdit

Personal appearancesEdit

Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ a b "Stephen Gaghan". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Gaghan, Stephen (June 24, 2013). "How One Writer Turned a Love for Writing Into an Oscar- and Emmy-Award Winning Career". Indiewire.
  3. ^ "George Skinner, a Broadcast Pioneer". Broadcast Pioneers.
  4. ^ Gaghan, Stephen (2001). "The Enemy is Every One of Us". Newsweek.
  5. ^ Lyman, Rick (February 5, 2001). "The Screenwriter for 'Traffic' Says He Drew on His Past of Drug Use". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Delta Tau Delta Fraternity".
  7. ^ "Babson at the movies" (PDF). Babson Magazine.
  8. ^ "Stephen Gaghan set to adapt 'Dead Spy'". The Hollywood Reporter. 2009-02-19. Archived from the original on 2009-02-23. Retrieved 2009-03-31.
  9. ^ "Jason Clarke And Omar Sy To Star In Stephen Gaghan Thriller 'Candy Store'". Deadline Hollywood. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  10. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 19, 2017). "Stephen Gaghan to Direct 'The Division' Movie Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  11. ^ Kroll, Justin; Kroll, Justin (2018-04-19). "'Deadpool 2's' David Leitch to Direct Jessica Chastain, Jake Gyllenhaal in 'The Division' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  12. ^ a b L. Hamilton, William (May 27, 2007). "Stephen Gaghan and Minnie Mortimer". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Minnie Mortimer. "Minnie Mortimer". Guest of a Guest. Archived from the original on October 28, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  14. ^ Colleen Crivello. "Mom Crush: Minnie Mortimer Gaghan". minimode. Retrieved October 16, 2016.

External linksEdit