|Born||August 8, 1951|
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
|Education||New York University (BFA)|
American Film Institute (MFA)
|Notable work||Beverly Hills Cop|
Scent of a Woman
Meet Joe Black
Going in Style
Hot Dogs for Gauguin
Martin Brest (born August 8, 1951) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. After his feature debut, Going in Style (1979), he directed the action comedies Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and Midnight Run (1988), which were critical and commercial hits.
Brest then directed Scent of a Woman (1992), starring Al Pacino, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance. He followed it with Meet Joe Black (1998), which received mixed reviews. Brest's next film, Gigli (2003), was subject to a troubled production, in which the film was re-written and re-shot without his consent. It became one of the largest box office bombs in Hollywood history and received scathing reviews. As of 2023 it remains his most recent project.
Brest was born to a Jewish family in the Bronx in 1951. He was influenced by watching The Honeymooners as a child, saying in a 2023 interview, "I was a kid watching it in a household that was economically not that different than in the show. I felt like it was a show made for my neighborhood. And that character of Ralph Kramden really touched me, that angry soul whose spirit blossoms". Brest graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1969 and from New York University's School of the Arts in 1973. His NYU student film Hot Dogs for Gauguin (1972), starring a then unknown Danny DeVito, was one of 25 films chosen in 2009 by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress to "be preserved as cultural, artistic and/or historical treasures". Brest attended the AFI Conservatory, where he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in 1977.
Brest is the father of artist Isaac Brest.
Brest's major studio debut was Going in Style (1979), which starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg. Brest was then hired to direct WarGames (1983), which starred Matthew Broderick, but he was fired three weeks into production amid conflicts with the film's executive producer, and replaced with John Badham.
The dismissal from WarGames left Brest highly pessimistic about his career, until he was recruited by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to direct Beverly Hills Cop (1984), starring Eddie Murphy. The film grossed over $300 million worldwide and received Golden Globe nominations for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) and for Best Actor (Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, Eddie Murphy), as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Brest was in pre-production for Rain Man (1988), when he cast Tom Cruise in the role opposite Dustin Hoffman, before Barry Levinson eventually directed the film.
Brest's next film was the action-comedy Midnight Run (1988), starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin. The film was another critical and commercial success, earning Brest another Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy as well as a Best Actor Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy nomination for De Niro.
His work on Scent of a Woman (1992) earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. The film also won Golden Globes for Al Pacino and screenwriter Bo Goldman, as well as a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Chris O'Donnell. In addition, the film received four Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (Adapted), with Al Pacino winning Best Actor.
Brest's next film, Meet Joe Black (1998), starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, was a loose remake of 1934's Death Takes a Holiday. The film had an American box-office return of $44.6 million, taking in an additional $98.3 million overseas for a worldwide total of $142.9 million.
Brest wrote and directed Gigli (2003), starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. During filming, production company Revolution Studios took creative control from him, resulting in a radically re-written and re-shot version of the original film being released. That version became one of the more notorious films of its time, with a scathing critical reception. A 2014 article in Playboy observed that in the then-eleven years since Gigli's release, Brest "went Full Salinger", appearing to have left the entertainment industry completely, without any further credits or major public appearances to his name. However, in 2021, he appeared as a featured guest at a screening of Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run in Los Angeles, where he was interviewed by fellow filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson. Two years later, he gave an interview to Variety in which he said he had written two scripts after Gigli, but was unable to get them produced. Reflecting on his career, he said:
Once [Gigli] happened, I thought I'll never be invited back [to make more films]. Second, I would never be able to operate with the kind of control that a director, I feel, needs and deserves. So that felt like a clear signal it was time for me to back away. I had a good run, and I enjoyed success and freedom, and that was fantastic. I would've liked it to go on longer, but everybody likes everything to go on longer.
Brest has received the American Film Institute's Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, which "celebrates the recipient's extraordinary creative talents and artistic achievements."
|1972||Hot Dogs for Gauguin||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Man on Ferry||NYU student film|
|1977||Hot Tomorrows||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||American Film Institute|
|1979||Going in Style||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||directorial debut|
|1982||Fast Times at Ridgemont High||No||No||No||No||Yes||Dr. Miller|
|1984||Beverly Hills Cop||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||"bathrobe" Hotel Clerk||uncredited role|
|1985||Spies Like Us||No||No||No||No||Yes||Drive-In Security Guard|
|1988||Midnight Run||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Airline Ticket Clerk||uncredited role|
|1992||Scent of a Woman||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|1993||Josh and S.A.M.||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|1998||Meet Joe Black||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Beverly Hills Cop||nominated – Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy|
|Midnight Run||nominated – Golden Globe Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy|
|Scent of a Woman||won – Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama |
nominated – Academy Award for Best Picture
nominated – Academy Award for Best Director
nominated – Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
|Gigli||Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture |
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screenplay