David Koepp
David Koepp, 2022
Born (1963-06-09) June 9, 1963 (age 60)
  • Screenwriter
  • film director
  • film producer
Years active1988–present
Known for
SpouseMelissa Thomas

David Koepp (/kɛp/;[1] born June 9, 1963) is an American screenwriter. He is the ninth most successful screenwriter of all time in terms of U.S. box office receipts with a total gross of over $2.3 billion.[2] Koepp has achieved both critical and commercial success in a wide variety of genres: thriller, science fiction, comedy, action, drama, crime, superhero, horror, adventure, and fantasy.

Some of the best-known films he has written include the sci-fi adventure films Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008); the crime film Carlito's Way (1993); the action spy films Mission: Impossible (1996) and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014); the superhero film Spider-Man (2002); the sci-fi disaster film War of the Worlds (2005) and the mystery thriller Angels & Demons (2009). Koepp has directed seven feature films over the course of his career: The Trigger Effect (1996), Stir of Echoes (1999), Secret Window (2004), Ghost Town (2008), Premium Rush (2012), Mortdecai (2015), and You Should Have Left (2020).

Early life and education

Koepp was born in Pewaukee, Wisconsin as the youngest of four children, to Donald Koepp, who owned a billboard company,[3] and a family therapist mother.[4] While attending Kettle Moraine High School in Wales, Wisconsin, he worked evenings and weekends at the McDonald's restaurant in Delafield.[citation needed] Originally studying to become an actor, first at the University of Minnesota for a year and afterwards at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for two years, he enrolled in the film school of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1984.[4][5][6] He graduated with a bachelor's degree in film from UCLA in 1990.[7]


As a writer, Koepp worked on blockbuster Hollywood films such as Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, and Spider-Man. He had a cameo appearance as the "Unlucky Bastard", a minor character devoured by a T. rex roaming San Diego in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which he co-wrote and was second unit director of. Although Koepp did not write Jurassic Park III, he did devise the film's basic storyline.[8][9] Koepp later declined an offer to write a script for the series' fourth film, Jurassic World, as he felt he had nothing left to contribute to the series.[10]

Koepp was reportedly paid $4,000,000 for his Panic Room screenplay. He wrote the screenplay for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and co-wrote and directed 2008's Ghost Town starring Ricky Gervais and Greg Kinnear.

Koepp's work as a director has not had quite the same box office success. His films include Secret Window, Stir of Echoes, and The Trigger Effect.

Koepp has also worked in television, creating the 2002 series Hack starring David Morse.

In 2012, Koepp directed Premium Rush, which he co-wrote with John Kamps.[11] In an August 2011 lawsuit, Joe Quirk, the author of the 1998 novel The Ultimate Rush, accused Koepp and the makers of Premium Rush of copyright infringement.[12] On April 2, 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg dismissed this case, finding that the two works were not substantially similar.[13]

On February 17, 2013, Koepp received the WGA East's Ian McClellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement.[14]

On July 10, 2013, Lionsgate was reported to have acquired the comedic crime novel The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery, written by Kyril Bonfiglioli.[15] Koepp directed the film, titled Mortdecai, from a script by Eric Aronson;[16] Johnny Depp played the lead role of Charlie Mortdecai,[17] and the film also featured Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, and Paul Bettany.[18] Koepp adapted the Marcus Sakey novel Brilliance, which will star Will Smith and Noomi Rapace.[19]

On March 15, 2016, The Walt Disney Company announced a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones saga, with Koepp as its screenwriter.[20][21] By June 2018, Koepp ultimately backed out of the project due to his commitment to You Should Have Left, a horror drama film Koepp wrote and directed.[22] Based on the novel of the same name by Daniel Kehlmann, You Should Have Left was released in 2020, and stars Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried.[23][24]

On September 3, 2019, Koepp made his novel debut with the publication of Cold Storage, a science-fiction thriller.[25] A film adaptation was announced in May 2022 from Studiocanal, with Koepp writing the screenplay and Jonny Campbell directing; the cast consists of Liam Neeson, Joe Keery, Georgina Campbell, and Sosie Bacon.[26][27]

Koepp's second novel, Aurora was published on June 7, 2022, and a film adaptation of the book is in development for Netflix, with Koepp writing the script and Kathryn Bigelow directing.[28]

Personal life

Koepp is married to Melissa Thomas, a writer, with whom he has two children.[29][30] He was previously married to artist Rosario Varela, with whom he has two children.[4][31]


Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1988 Apartment Zero No Yes Yes co-wrote with Martin Donovan
1990 Bad Influence No Yes No
Why Me? No Yes No
I Come in Peace No Yes No
  • credited as Leonard Maas Jr.
  • co-wrote with Jonathan Tydor
1991 Toy Soldiers No Yes No co-wrote with Daniel Petrie Jr.
1992 Death Becomes Her No Yes No co-wrote with Martin Donovan
1993 Jurassic Park No Yes No co-wrote with Michael Crichton
Carlito's Way No Yes No
1994 The Paper No Yes Co-producer co-wrote with Stephen Koepp
The Shadow No Yes No
Suspicious Yes Yes No Short film
1996 Mission: Impossible No Yes No co-wrote with Robert Towne and Steven Zaillian
The Trigger Effect Yes Yes No
1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park No Yes No Also second unit director and cameo
1998 Snake Eyes No Yes No co-wrote with Brian De Palma
1999 Stir of Echoes Yes Yes No
2002 Panic Room No Yes Yes
Spider-Man No Yes No
2004 Secret Window Yes Yes No
2005 War of the Worlds No Yes No co-wrote with Josh Friedman
Zathura: A Space Adventure No Yes No co-wrote with John Kamps
2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull No Yes No co-wrote with George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson
Ghost Town Yes Yes No co-wrote with John Kamps
2009 Angels & Demons No Yes No co-wrote with Akiva Goldsman
2011 The Little Engine That Could No Yes No co-wrote with John Kamps, Cliff Ruby and Elana Lesser
2012 Premium Rush Yes Yes No co-wrote with John Kamps
2014 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit No Yes No co-wrote with Adam Cozad
2015 Mortdecai Yes No No
2016 Inferno No Yes No
2017 The Mummy No Yes No co-wrote with Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman
2020 You Should Have Left Yes Yes No
2022 Kimi No Yes Yes
2023 Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny No Yes No co-wrote with Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth and James Mangold[32]
TBA Cold Storage No Yes Yes based on his novel[33]
Aurora No Yes Yes based on his novel


Year Title Director Writer Notes
2002 Hack No Yes Creator
2003 Suspense Yes No TV movie



  1. ^ "122. David Koepp Interview, Part 2 (Screenwriter of 'Mission: Impossible')". Light the Fuse Podcast (Podcast). October 16, 2020. Event occurs at 34:45. Retrieved February 17, 2022.
  2. ^ "Box Office Mojo – People Index". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ a b c Dutka, Elaine (March 29, 1994). "After navigating his way around scripts and moguls, David Koepp is on the A-list with Paper, Carlito's and Jurassic". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  5. ^ McGilligan, Patrick, ed. (2009). "David Koepp Sincerity". Backstory 5: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1990s. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 74–76. ISBN 9780520945470. Retrieved May 13, 2023. p. 74: [Koepp:] "I spent my first year of college at the University of Minnesota. [...] I transferred to Madison, still wanting to become an actor. I spent two years in Madison [...]."
  6. ^ Owen, David (March 21, 1994). "David Koepp Is a Very Nice Screenwriter, Really". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 13, 2023. Koepp said, "[...] I wanted to be an actor, and I went to college in Madison for a couple of years, to do acting, [...] then I decided I wanted to write movies, so I transferred to the film school at U.C.L.A.."
  7. ^ Hueso, Noela (February 3, 2022). "Alumnus David Koepp writes big stories for the big (and small) screen". UCLA Newsroom. Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  8. ^ "Jurassic Park 3 Director Talks Script Problems of the Upcoming Sequel". Screenwritersutopia.com. July 11, 2001. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  9. ^ "Jumanji's Joe Johnston Joins Jurassic". About.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2006.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ Douglas, Edward (August 22, 2012). "Exclusive: David Koepp on Jack Ryan, Snow White & Jurassic Park". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  11. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (November 11, 2009). "Koepp to helm 'Premium Rush'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  12. ^ Stevens, Elizabeth Lesly, "A Big Hollywood Movie Is Coming, and a Novelist Cries Foul", The New York Times, August 20, 2011
  13. ^ Gardner, Eriq, "Sony Pictures Wins 'Premium Rush' Theft Lawsuit", "The Hollywood Reporter", April 3, 2013
  14. ^ McNary, Dave, "WGA East Honors Koepp", "Variety", January 29, 2013
  15. ^ "Johnny Depp to Star in 'Mortdecai' for Lionsgate, Director David Koepp". thewrap.com. July 10, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  16. ^ "David Koepp is set to direct from Eric Aronson's script". deadline.com. July 10, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  17. ^ "Johnny Depp in Talks to Star in 'Mortdecai'". hollywoodreporter.com. July 10, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  18. ^ "Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor join Johnny Depp on Mortdecai". guardian.co.uk. July 25, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  19. ^ White, James (May 13, 2014). "Noomi Rapace Finds Brilliance". Empire. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2022.
  20. ^ Agar, Chris (March 18, 2016). "Indiana Jones 5 Recruits Jurassic Park Writer David Koepp". ScreenRant.com. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  21. ^ Shepherd, Jack (March 20, 2016). "Indiana Jones 5: Crystal Skull writer David Koepp signs on to write sequel". The Independent. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  22. ^ Galuppo, Mia; Kit, Borys (June 28, 2018). "Indiana Jones 5 Delayed as New Writer Is Brought On". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  23. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (March 26, 2018). "Kevin Bacon, David Koepp Making 'You Should Have Left' For Blumhouse". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  24. ^ Kit, Borys (June 7, 2018). "Amanda Seyfried Joins Kevin Bacon in Blumhouse Thriller 'You Should Have Left'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  25. ^ Koepp, David. "Cold Storage". harpercollins.com. HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved September 13, 2019.
  26. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 11, 2022). "Hot Cannes Package: Liam Neeson, Joe Keery Star In Jonny Campbell-Helmed Studiocanal Sci-Fi Virus Tale 'Cold Storage'; David Koepp Adapted His Novel". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 30, 2023.
  27. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (March 30, 2023). "'Smile' Star Sosie Bacon Joins Liam Neeson, Joe Keery & Georgina Campbell In Studiocanal Thriller 'Cold Storage'; Filming Underway With Lesley Manville In Final Talks". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 30, 2023.
  28. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 31, 2022). "Kathryn Bigelow To Direct Adaptation Of David Koepp Novel 'Aurora' For Netflix". Deadline. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  29. ^ Storms, Sarah. "A Sophisticated New York City Family Home". Lonny. Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  30. ^ Bernstein, Fred A. (June 30, 2019). "Fawn Galli Punches Up a Screenwriter's London Home with a Bit of Movie Magic". 1stdibs. Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  31. ^ David, Mark (November 27, 2013). "David Koepp Lists Manhattan Townhouse". Dirt. Retrieved May 13, 2023.
  32. ^ "Indiana Jones 5". Writers Guild of America West. February 10, 2023. Retrieved March 19, 2023.
  33. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (May 11, 2022). "Hot Cannes Package: Liam Neeson, Joe Keery Star In Jonny Campbell-Helmed Studiocanal Sci-Fi Virus Tale 'Cold Storage;' David Koepp Adapted His Novel". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 19, 2023.