Frank Darabont
Darabont at the 2011 PaleyFest
Ferenc Árpád Darabont

(1959-01-28) January 28, 1959 (age 65)
Montbéliard, France
Other namesFrank A. Darabont
Ardeth Bey
CitizenshipUnited States
EducationHollywood High School
  • Screenwriter
  • director
  • producer
Years active1981–present
SpouseSara Rae Darabont[1]

Frank Árpád Darabont (born Ferenc Árpád Darabont, January 28, 1959)[2] is an American screenwriter, director and producer. He has been nominated for three Academy Awards and a Golden Globe Award. In his early career, he was primarily a screenwriter for such horror films as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), The Blob (1988) and The Fly II (1989). As a director, he is known for his film adaptations of Stephen King novellas and novels, such as The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999), and The Mist (2007).

Darabont also developed and executive-produced the first season and first half of the second season of the AMC horror drama series The Walking Dead (2010–2011).

Early life

Darabont was born in a refugee camp in 1959 in Montbéliard, France.[3][4] His parents had fled Hungary for France after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, bringing his five brothers and four sisters, and three cousins. When Darabont was still an infant, his family immigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles when Darabont was five.[5]

Darabont was inspired in his youth to pursue a career in film after seeing the George Lucas film THX 1138.[6] Darabont graduated from Hollywood High School in 1977 and did not attend college.[7]

His first job after finishing school was working at the famed Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. He served at the concession stand and as an usher, and was grateful for the perk of getting to watch numerous films for free. He claims he developed his writing skills from "endless hours" of writing at a desk on a typewriter in his free time, and from his childhood friend Cody Hills.[7]


Early works

Darabont became involved in filmmaking by becoming a production assistant on such films as Hell Night, The Seduction, and Trancers. The first film he wrote and directed was a short work adapted from Stephen King's story "The Woman in the Room". This film was one of the first "Dollar Babies" and made the semi-finalist list for Academy Award consideration in 1983. Although Darabont was not happy with how the short turned out, this effort resulted in a close association with King, who granted him the "handshake deal" rights to another of his shorter works, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption from the collection Different Seasons.[5]

Darabont sold his first screenplay titled Black Cat Run in 1986, but it was not produced for more than a decade, as a television film under the same name.[7] Darabont was approached by Chuck Russell (who was a producer on Hell Night and The Seduction) with an offer to become his writing partner, as he had become interested in Darabont's writing after reading his spec script written for the television series M*A*S*H.[6]

The two began working on a script for a remake of the film The Blob, which they had planned to shop around to studios. That was interrupted when they were both hired to rewrite the script of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, with Russell directing the film. The two were given only two weeks to rewrite the script and accomplished it in ten days. The success of their A Nightmare on Elm Street film allowed them to produce the first script they had originally written, The Blob.[6] By then considered a successful writer for hire, Darabont was commissioned to write The Fly II, an early draft of The Rocketeer, and an unproduced sequel to Commando.[8]

Darabont made his directorial debut with Buried Alive, a television movie with a $2,000,000 budget that aired on the USA Network in 1990. He followed this with an extended run as a writer for George Lucas's television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He also wrote two episodes of the television series Tales from the Crypt.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Main article: The Shawshank Redemption

Darabont made good on the deal with Stephen King by writing and directing the film adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption. Rob Reiner, who had previously adapted another King novella, The Body, into the movie Stand by Me, offered Darabont $2.5 million in an attempt to write and direct Shawshank. He planned to cast Tom Cruise in the part of Andy and Harrison Ford as Red. Darabont seriously considered and liked Reiner's vision, but he ultimately decided it was his "chance to do something really great" by directing the film himself.[9]

Although the film did not fare well at the box office, it was met with acclaim by audiences and critics. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Darabont. The film attracted additional viewers after its Academy Award nominations, and became the most rented film of 1995.[10] Today it is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made.[11]

The Green Mile (1999)

Main article: The Green Mile (film)

Darabont's next directorial effort was another Stephen King adaptation for which he wrote the screenplay, The Green Mile, starring Tom Hanks. At first Darabont was reluctant to adapt the novel as a film, as its setting was too similar to Shawshank, but quickly changed his mind after reading the novel.[12] Hanks and Darabont first met at an Academy Award luncheon in 1994, and the two were eager to work on a project together. Stephen King said he had envisioned Hanks in the role and was happy when Darabont mentioned his name.[13]

The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, and Darabont was nominated for his second Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[14] This was originally the highest-grossing film based on a Stephen King novel, as it made a total of $286,801,374 worldwide (before being surpassed by 2017's It when it made $603 million worldwide.)[15]

The Majestic (2001)

Main article: The Majestic (film)

In 2001 Darabont directed the film The Majestic, starring Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, and Laurie Holden. He worked with these actors frequently throughout his career. Michael Sloane, whom Darabont had known since high school, wrote the script. This film is one of the few which Darabont directed, but did not write the screenplay. Darabont wanted to direct the film as he saw it as a "love letter" to works of Frank Capra and all the other movies he has loved throughout his life.[16] The film received mixed reviews from critics and bombed at the box-office, recouping only half of its $72 million budget internationally.[17]

The Mist (2007)

Main article: The Mist (film)

Darabont had originally wanted to direct The Mist even before he directed The Shawshank Redemption, but kept pushing it back. It was 2004 before he began to write the screenplay for the film.[18] Most of the crew that worked on the film had worked on the television series The Shield, as Darabont hired them after directing an episode of the series. He thought they could help give the film a "more fluid, ragged documentary kind of direction".[19]

Darabont also helped create the designs of the creatures in the film, along with artists Jordu Schell, Bernie Wrightson, and the film's lead makeup artist Greg Nicotero.[20] CafeFX was hired to do the film's special effects after Darabont asked fellow director Guillermo del Toro who did the effects on his film Pan's Labyrinth.

The film was a modest success at the box office, but earned positive reviews from critics.[21] King also praised Darabont's new ending, saying, "The ending is such a jolt—wham! It's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending."[22] When a two-disc edition of the DVD was released, it included an exclusive black-and-white presentation of the film, the way Darabont had always intended it to be.

The Walking Dead (2010–2011)

Main article: The Walking Dead (TV series)

Frank Darabont and Drew Struzan signing a Limited Edition poster of 2010 series Walking Dead

Darabont developed and executive-produced the first season of The Walking Dead, the AMC series based on Robert Kirkman's comic book of the same name.[23][24] Darabont recalled that he had first come across the series in 2005, in a comic book store in Burbank, California.[25] When Darabont became interested, creator Kirkman called it "extremely flattering". He said that Darabont "definitely cares about the original source material, and you can tell that in the way he's adapting it."[26]

Darabont first initiated a deal with NBC for The Walking Dead, but was later declined. He eventually brought it to AMC, who picked it up based on the source material and Darabont's involvement.[27] Darabont wrote and directed the pilot and was executive producer of the first season, along with Gale Anne Hurd.[28][29] The series features a number of actors who have regularly worked with Darabont in the past, including Jeffrey DeMunn, Laurie Holden and Melissa McBride. The series earned positive reviews upon release and the pilot attracted 5.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched series premiere episode of any AMC television series.[30]

In July 2011, Darabont was fired from the position as showrunner.[31] Initial reports suggested that he was unable to adjust to the schedule of running a television series;[31] however, it was later confirmed that he was fired due to AMC's desire to reduce the show's budget (twice as many episodes for 20% less of a budget) and to his strained relationship with the executives of AMC.[32] Darabont and his agents from the Creative Artists Agency filed a lawsuit against AMC, seeking more than $280 million in unpaid profits.[33] By July 2021, AMC had settled with Darabont and the CAA, agreeing to pay $200 million and future royalty payments.[34]

Mob City (2013)

Main article: Mob City

Not too long after leaving The Walking Dead, Darabont struck a deal with TNT to develop a pilot for a new series to air on their channel, titled L.A. Noir, based on a book by author John Buntin.[35] Darabont discovered the book at LAX Airport and, after two days straight of reading it, decided to adapt it for television.[36] Darabont was very passionate about the project as he had always wanted to produce a film noir.[35]

Darabont cast Jon Bernthal, whom he had worked with on The Walking Dead, in the lead role for the series.[37] Other Darabont regulars cast included Jeffrey DeMunn and Alexa Davalos.[37] The series was given a full season order of six episodes in the fall of 2012 and the title of the series was changed to Mob City.[36][37] The series premiered in December 2013 and was met with mixed to positive reviews.[38] The series was cancelled after one season.[39]

Other work

Darabont also held the rights to two other Stephen King stories, The Long Walk and The Monkey, neither of which he ever adapted.[40]

Darabont was a script doctor for the Steven Spielberg films Saving Private Ryan and Minority Report.[41] In 2002, he wrote an early draft of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. While Spielberg reportedly loved it, George Lucas rejected it.[42] He also produced the 2002 film The Salton Sea, starring Val Kilmer and Vincent D'Onofrio.

Over the years Darabont has reunited with his old writing partner Chuck Russell. He did a rewrite for Russell's film Eraser, they attempted to adapt a film of the 1930s pulp character, Doc Savage, and the two wrote an early treatment and were executive producers on the film Collateral.[7][43]

He has also tried to produce film adaptations of the novels Mine by Robert R. McCammon and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Darabont still hopes to make both films some day.[44]

The same year Shawshank was released, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which Darabont wrote, was also released. The film was met with mixed reviews and Darabont called it the worst experience in his career as a writer as he had considered it the best script he had ever written, but that director Kenneth Branagh ruined it "every step of the way".[7] He went on to say that "you can't really judge the script based on what you saw on the screen. It got rephrased and messed with every inch of the way." Guillermo del Toro has shown interest in adapting Darabont's draft of the Frankenstein script when he gets around to filming his own version of the story, calling the draft a "near perfect" adaptation of the original book.[45]

In 2004, he was hired by Tom Cruise to write Mission: Impossible III, but the script was later rewritten by J. J. Abrams, who directed the film.[46] The same year, Darabont wrote the introduction for the Hellboy novel, Hellboy: Odder Jobs by Christopher Golden.[47]

In 2005, Cemetery Dance Publications published Darabont's novella Walpuski's Typewriter in a limited edition. The story, originally written in his early twenties, first appeared in Jessie Horsting's magazine Midnight Graffiti.[48]

In 2007, Darabont directed an episode of The Shield titled "Chasing Ghosts". He also directed and executive produced the pilot episode of Raines, starring Jeff Goldblum.[49]

Darabont appeared in "First Class Jerk", the October 26, 2008, episode of Entourage in which he propositions Vincent Chase to star in a TV show he is executive producing. He appeared in a September 12, 2009, episode where he is now the director of the film about Enzo Ferrari, who Vince is portraying.

According to the Battlestar Galactica: The Official Companion series by Titan Books, Darabont—a huge fan of the re-imagined series—was slated to direct "Islanded in a Stream of Stars", the penultimate episode of the show's final season. Due to scheduling conflicts, he was unable to take the job, which fell to series star (and previous helmer) Edward James Olmos.[50]

Darabont was slated to direct the 2009 film Law Abiding Citizen, but left production due to creative differences with the producers.[51]

At the 2012 Austin Film Festival, Darabont was awarded the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award for his contribution to cinema.[52]

In 2013, he lent his voice to a lengthier version of the World War Z audio book. In November of the same year Bob Weinstein revealed that he and Darabont were developing a ten part television series based on Darabont's 2007 film The Mist.[53]

Darabont was hired to rewrite the script for the 2014 Godzilla reboot.[54] Darabont stated that he would like to bring the monster back to his origins as a "terrifying force of nature."[55] The director of the film Gareth Edwards stated in an interview that Darabont wrote the most moving scene of the film and that particular scene helped convince cast members Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche to sign onto the film.[56]

In June 2014, it was reported that Darabont was on the shortlist to direct The Huntsman: Winter's War, a sequel to the fantasy film Snow White and the Huntsman.[57] A month later it was confirmed that Darabont would direct the film, but it would not be a sequel, but a prequel focusing on Chris Hemsworth's character Eric, the Huntsman.[58] However, Darabont left the project in January 2015, citing creative differences as the cause.[59]

Darabont revealed in a 2021 interview with Mick Garris that he had recently written a script for a film centred around the American Civil War, based on an unproduced screenplay by filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and historian Shelby Foote that Ridley Scott was attached to produce. Darabont considers the script to be the best thing he's ever written and was dismayed when the film was unable to find financing.[60]

Recurring collaborators

In addition to collaborating with actors on films and television projects, Darabont has collaborated with writers, producers, composers, and others. These include Chuck Russell, Mark Isham, Stephen King, Gregory Nicotero, Rohn Schmidt, David Tattersall, and others. Jeffrey DeMunn appeared in The Blob and Black Cat Run, both of which Darabont wrote, Alexa Davalos appeared in the pilot episode of Raines that he directed and Amin Joseph first worked with Darabont on an episode of The Shield titled "Chasing Ghosts".

The Woman in the Room (1983 film) and Buried Alive (1990) are not listed due to lack of collaborations (although Brian Libby appears in both).[61]

Actor The Shawshank Redemption
The Green Mile
The Majestic
The Mist
The Walking Dead
Mob City
Jeffrey DeMunn Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Brian Libby Yes Yes Yes Yes
William Sadler Yes Yes Yes
Laurie Holden Yes Yes Yes
Jon Bernthal Yes Yes
James Whitmore Yes Yes
Brent Briscoe Yes Yes
Alexa Davalos Yes Yes
Melissa McBride Yes Yes
Sam Witwer Yes Yes
Juan Gabriel Pareja Yes Yes
Amin Joseph Yes Yes
Andrew Rothenberg Yes Yes



Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1983 The Woman in the Room Yes Yes No Short film
1987 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors No Yes No
1988 The Blob No Yes No
1989 The Fly II No Yes No
1994 The Shawshank Redemption Yes Yes No Nominated- Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein No Yes No
1999 The Green Mile Yes Yes Yes Nominated- Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated- Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
2001 The Majestic Yes No Yes
2002 The Salton Sea No No Yes
2007 The Mist Yes Yes Yes

Uncredited writing works

Year Title Notes
1996 The Fan[62] Script doctor
1998 Saving Private Ryan[62]
2004 Collateral Also executive producer
2009 Law Abiding Citizen
2014 Godzilla Script doctor
2016 The Huntsman: Winter's War

Technical credits

Year Title Notes
1981 Hell Night Production assistant
1982 The Seduction Transportation captain
1984 Crimes of Passion Set dresser
Trancers Art department assistant


Year Title Role
1998 Vampires The Man with Buick
2005 King Kong Gunner #3


Year Title Director Writer Producer Creator Notes
1990–1992 Tales from the Crypt No Yes No No Episodes "The Ventriloquist's Dummy" and
1992–1996 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles No Yes No No 6 episodes
2007 Raines Yes No Yes No Episode: "Pilot"
The Shield Yes No No No Episode: "Chasing Ghosts"
2010–2011 The Walking Dead Yes Yes Executive Developer Directed and wrote episode: "Days Gone Bye"
Wrote 4 episodes
2013 Mob City Yes Yes Executive Yes Directed and wrote 3 episodes
Directed episode: "Red Light"

TV movies


Year Title Role Notes
1997 The Shining Ghosts TV Miniseries
2008–2009 Entourage Himself Episodes: "First Class Jerk", "Security Briefs"

Additional awards and nominations

Year Title Awards and nominations
1990–1992 Tales from the Crypt Nominated- Writers Guild of America Award for Television (for "The Ventriloquist's Dummy")
1994 The Shawshank Redemption Hochi Film Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Humanitas Prize for Best Film
USC Scripter Award (shared with Stephen King)
Nominated- Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing
Nominated- Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Action or Adventure Film
Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Writing
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Writing (shared with Steph Lady)
1999 The Green Mile Saturn Award for Best Action or Adventure Film
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Director
Nominated- Bram Stoker Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated- Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing
Nominated- Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated- Nebula Award for Best Script
Nominated- USC Scripter Award (shared with Stephen King)
2007 The Mist Saturn Award for Best DVD Special Edition Release
Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Director
Nominated- Saturn Award for Best Horror Film
Nominated- Empire Award for Best Horror
2010–2011 The Walking Dead American Film Institute Award for TV Programme of the Year
Nominated- Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing
Nominated- Writers Guild of America Award for New Series


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