Todd Phillips (born Todd Philip Bunzl; born December 20, 1970)[1] is an American filmmaker and film producer. Phillips began his career in 1993 and directed films in the 2000s such as Road Trip, Old School, Starsky & Hutch, and School for Scoundrels. He came to wider prominence in the early 2010s for directing The Hangover film series. In 2019, he co-wrote and directed the psychological thriller film Joker, based on the DC Comics character of the same name, which premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival where it received the top prize, the Golden Lion. Joker went on to earn Phillips three Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, with his co-writer Scott Silver, his second, third, and fourth Academy Award nominations after also being nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Borat at the 79th Academy Awards.

Todd Phillips
Phillips in 2016
Todd Philip Bunzl

(1970-12-20) December 20, 1970 (age 53)[1]
  • Film director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1993–present
Notable workThe Hangover film series

Early life edit

Phillips was born in Brooklyn, New York City, to a Jewish family.[2][3] He was raised in Dix Hills, New York, on Long Island.[4] He attended New York University Film School, but dropped out[5] because he could not afford to complete his first film and pay tuition simultaneously.[6] Around that time, he worked at Kim's Video and Music.[5]

Phillips appeared as one of the drivers in the first season of the HBO hidden camera docu-series Taxicab Confessions.[7] In a New York Times profile, Phillips said he had gotten in trouble for shoplifting as a young man.[4]

Career edit

Phillips's first documentary film, Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies, centered on the life and death of controversial punk rocker GG Allin, while as a junior at NYU and it went on to become one of the highest grossing student films at the time, even getting a limited theatrical release.[5] Phillips wrote a letter to convicted serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, an acquaintance of GG, asking if he could paint a movie poster for the film. Phillips stated that "Gacy is really the executive producer" of the film, having raised $10,000 from selling replicas of his artwork.[8]

Next, he co-directed with then-partner Andrew Gurland for Frat House, a second documentary about college fraternities; it premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary features.[9] It was produced by HBO, but never aired on its channel because many of the film's participants claimed they were paid to re-enact their activities. It was never proven either way.

His third documentary Bittersweet Motel centered on the jam band Phish, covering its summer and fall 1997 tours, plus footage from their 1998 spring tour of Europe. It ends at The Great Went, a two-day festival held in upstate Maine which attracted 70,000 people. While at Sundance with Frat House, Phillips met director-producer Ivan Reitman who led Phillips into writing and directing his comedy films, Road Trip and Old School, for Reitman's Montecito Picture Company.

Phillips also wrote and directed the 2004 film Starsky & Hutch starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, as well as the 2006 film School for Scoundrels, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Jon Heder. In 2005, Details Magazine cited Judd Apatow, Adam McKay and Phillips as "The Frat Pack".[10] He worked on the satirical comedy Borat (2006), but he resigned his position as a director in early 2005, due to creative differences.[11] Nevertheless, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his role in fashioning the story.

After establishing Green Hat Films in 2008, Phillips directed and produced The Hangover. Made for a reported $35 million, it went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy up to that time. Its worldwide gross stood at $480 million on February 3, 2012.[12] The film went on to win the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy).[13] It also won Best Comedy at the 2009 Broadcast Film Critics Awards.[14] Phillips took almost no up-front salary in exchange for a large share of the film's profits, and has said that the movie's enormous success, combined with his deal, makes it "my Star Wars". After a worldwide gross of $467 million, his share in the film made Phillips around $50 million.[15]

In 2010, Phillips directed, produced and co-wrote the comedy Due Date, which starred Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. It was a box office success, grossing $211,780,324 worldwide.[16]

In the fall of 2010, production on The Hangover Part II began in Bangkok, Thailand that Phillips directed, produced and co-wrote. The film shot for 63 days and broke various records upon its release on May 26, 2011. With the film debuting at midnight with showings in 2,600 theaters, the film earned $10.4 million, breaking the record for the biggest midnight opening for an R-rated film. The Hangover Part II went on to accrue a launch day total of $31.6 million;[17] nearly doubling The Hangover's Friday launch opening ($16.7 million). This amount broke two further records; the highest-grossing opening day for a live-action comedy and the highest-grossing opening day for an R-rated comedy film, replacing Sex and the City ($26.7 million). The three-day opening weekend accumulated $85,946,294 – an average of $23,923 per theater[18] – becoming the highest grossing opening weekend for a comedy film, replacing The Simpsons Movie ($74 million). For the Memorial Day four-day weekend, the film amassed $103.4 million to become the fourth-highest-grossing Memorial Day weekend opening.[18] Finally, the film's worldwide gross of $581,464,305 beat the previous R-rated comedy record holder The Hangover to become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy film of all time (now surpassed by both Deadpool movies).[19]

He returned to direct, write, and produce The Hangover Part III, which was released in 2013. It grossed over $300 million, pushing The Hangover Trilogy's total box office gross to $1.4 billion.

In 2016, following the successes of The Hangover trilogy, Phillips directed, produced, and co-wrote the crime film War Dogs, starring Jonah Hill and Miles Teller.

Phillips winning the Golden Lion for the film Joker at the 76th Venice Film Festival

Phillips directed, co-wrote, and co-produced an origin story film of DC Comics' supervillain, the Joker. The script, set in 1981, was co-written by Scott Silver, and the film starred Joaquin Phoenix in the title role.[20] The film premiered at the 76th Venice International Film Festival and was released in October 2019.

Phillips is scheduled to direct a biographical film about Hulk Hogan, starring Chris Hemsworth in the lead role. Frequent collaborator Scott Silver is a co-writer, alongside John Pollono. Phillips is producing the film with Bradley Cooper, one of the lead actors of Phillips's The Hangover trilogy and producer on Joker.[21]

Personal beliefs edit

When asked in a 2014 interview by the BBC if he believes in God, Phillips replied: "Personally I don't. But I believe there's a higher power, a collective energy in people that you might say is God."[22]

Phillips said in 2019, in the aftermath of his dark drama Joker release, that he had stopped making comedy films because of the backlash of "woke culture", saying: "Go try to be funny nowadays... There were articles written about why comedies don't work anymore— I'll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, 'Fuck this shit, because I don't want to offend you.' It's hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter."[23]

Filmography edit

Feature films edit

Year Title Director Writer Producer
2000 Road Trip Yes Yes No
2003 Old School Yes Yes Yes
2004 Starsky & Hutch Yes Yes No
2006 School for Scoundrels Yes Yes Yes
Borat No Story No
2009 The Hangover Yes No Yes
2010 Due Date Yes Yes Yes
2011 The Hangover Part II Yes Yes Yes
2013 The Hangover Part III Yes Yes Yes
2016 War Dogs Yes Yes Yes
2019 Joker Yes Yes Yes
2024 Joker: Folie à Deux Yes Yes Yes

Producer only

Acting credits

Year Title Role Notes
2000 Road Trip Foot Lover
2003 Old School Gang Bang Guy
2009 The Hangover Mr. Creepy
2010 Due Date Barry
2013 The Hangover Part III Mr. Creepy Uncredited

Documentary films edit

Year Title Director Producer Writer Himself Notes
1993 Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies Yes Yes Yes No
1998 Frat House Yes Yes Yes Yes Co-directed with Andrew Gurland
2000 Bittersweet Motel Yes Yes Yes Yes

Television edit

Year Title Director Producer Notes
1997 Taxicab Confessions No Yes Field producer;
1 episode
2008 The More Things Change... Yes Executive TV movie
2012 Matthew Broderick's Day Off Yes Yes Commercial for Honda
2015–2016 Limitless No Executive 19 episodes

Awards and nominations edit

Year Association Category Work Result
1994 New Orleans Film Festival Best Documentary Film Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies Won
1998 San Francisco International Film Festival Certificate of Merit Frat House Won
Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Documentary Won
2007 Writers Guild of America Award Best Adapted Screenplay Borat Nominated
Academy Award Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
2009 Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy The Hangover Won
British Comedy Award Best Comedy Film Nominated
2010 ShoWest Convention Director of the Year Won
2018 Awards Circuit Community Award Best Motion Picture A Star Is Born Won
2019 Latino Entertainment Journalists Association Best Picture Won
Music City Film Critics' Association Jim Ridley Award Won
Online Film & Television Association Best Picture Won
Venice International Film Festival Golden Lion Joker Won
2020 Golden Globe Award Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Picture Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Producers Guild of America Award Best Theatrical Motion Picture Nominated
Writers Guild of America Award Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
British Academy Film Award Best Film Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Academy Award Best Picture Nominated
Best Director Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Todd Phillips". Empire. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  2. ^ Paskin, Willa (October 26, 2010). "Zach Galifianakis Breaks His Silence About Mel Gibson".
  3. ^ Bloom, Nate (August 26, 2016). "Celebrity Jews". J Weekly.
  4. ^ a b Itzkoff, Dave (May 31, 2009). "Finding the Fun in Eternal Frat Boys". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010. Mr. Phillips, 38, ... was born Todd Bunzl in Brooklyn and raised in Dix Hills, N.Y., on Long Island, by his mother and two older sisters.
  5. ^ a b c "HATED Director Todd Phillips by Erin_broadley". SuicideGirls. September 13, 2007.
  6. ^ Moore, Michael (December 23, 2019). "Rumble with Michael Moore, Ep. 6: Everything Must Go (feat. Todd Phillips)". (Podcast).
  7. ^ "Todd Phillips keeps 'em laughing". Los Angeles Times. May 22, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  8. ^ Maurer, Daniel (June 27, 2014). "9 Things Todd Phillips Revealed About Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies". Bedford and Bowery. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  9. ^ "Todd Phillips- Director of Road Trip". DVD Talk.
  10. ^ "The Power 50: DETAILS Article on". Archived from the original on February 29, 2008.
  11. ^ Billington, Alex (September 27, 2006). "Interview with Todd Phillips". Retrieved June 14, 2009.
  12. ^ "The Hangover (2009)". Box Office Mojo.
  13. ^ Brad Brevet. "2010 Golden Globe Winners: 'Sherlock Holmes' 1, 'The Hurt Locker' 0".
  14. ^ CC Awards[dead link]
  15. ^ "$200 Million Opening Weekend Has Warner Bros Thinking Third 'Hangover'". May 31, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
  16. ^ "Due Date (2010)". Box Office Mojo.
  17. ^ "The Hangover Part II (2011) - Daily Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo.
  18. ^ a b "The Hangover Part II (2011) - Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo.
  19. ^ "The Hangover Part II (2011)". Box Office Mojo.
  20. ^ "The Joker Origin Story On Deck: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver, Martin Scorsese Aboard WB/DC Film". Deadline Hollywood. August 22, 2017.
  21. ^ "Chris Hemsworth to Play Hulk Hogan in Biopic Directed by Todd Phillips (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. February 20, 2019.
  22. ^ Smith, Neil (September 24, 2014). "Getting Direct With Directors... No.13: Todd Phillips". BBC. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  23. ^ Hagan, Joe (October 1, 2019). "Cover Story: Joaquin Phoenix on Joker, Rooney, and River". Vanity Fair. Retrieved October 8, 2019.

External links edit