Martin Brest
Born (1951-08-08) August 8, 1951 (age 72)
The Bronx, New York City, U.S.
EducationNew York University (BFA)
American Film Institute (MFA)
  • Film director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1972–2003
Notable workBeverly Hills Cop
Midnight Run
Scent of a Woman
Meet Joe Black
Going in Style
Hot Dogs for Gauguin

Martin Brest (born August 8, 1951) is an American former 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 was Gigli (2003). After disagreements between Brest and Revolution Studios,[1] creative control was taken from him, resulting in a radically re-written and re-shot version of the original film being released,[2] which became his first and only non-profitable film[3] and, in fact, a major box office bomb, receiving scathing reviews. It remains his most recent film to date.


Brest was born to Eastern European immigrant parents in a working class neighborhood in the Bronx in 1951.[4][5][6] 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".[7] Brest graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1969 and from New York University's School of the Arts in 1973.[5] His NYU student film Hot Dogs for Gauguin (1972), starring a then unknown Danny DeVito and with a small part by then unknown Rhea Perlman, 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".[8] Brest attended the AFI Conservatory, where he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in 1977.[5]

Brest is the father of artist Isaac Brest.[5][9]


Brest's major studio debut was Going in Style (1979), which starred George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg.[10] 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.[7][11]

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.[7][12] The film grossed over $300 million worldwide[13] 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.[14]

Brest's next film was the action-comedy Midnight Run (1988), starring Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin.[15] 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.[16]

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.[17] 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.[18]

Brest wrote and directed Gigli (2003), starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.[19] 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.[19] 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.[19] 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.[20] 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:[7]

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."[21]

His essays about art and artists have appeared in various books.[22][23][24]


Year Title Director Producer Screenwriter Editor Actor Role Notes
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
2003 Gigli Yes Yes Yes No No


Film Awards
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


  1. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (July 18, 2023). "Director Martin Brest Revisits the Triumphs of 'Beverly Hills Cop' and 'Midnight Run,' and Reflects On His Post-'Gigli' Hollywood Exile (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  2. ^ "Martin Brest Directed Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run and, Yes, Gigli. Then He Vanished. Why? | Playboy". December 22, 2014. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  3. ^ "Martin Brest - All His Movies Ranked". Death By Films. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  4. ^ "Martin Brest". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d Coleman, Bryce. "Martin Brest". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d Gilchrist, Todd (July 18, 2023). "Director Martin Brest Revisits the Triumphs of 'Beverly Hills Cop' and 'Midnight Run,' and Reflects On His Post-'Gigli' Hollywood Exile". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2023.
  8. ^ "Michael Jackson, the Muppets and Early Cinema Tapped for Preservation in 2009 Library of Congress National Film Registry". Library of Congress. December 30, 2009.
  9. ^ Miller, M. H. (March 4, 2014). "Their House: How the Still House Group Turned a Red Hook Studio Into an Art World Success Story". The New York Observer. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent (December 25, 1979). "Movie: 3 Widowers Try 'Going in Style'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  11. ^ Brown, Scott (July 21, 2008). "WarGames: A Look Back at the Film That Turned Geeks and Phreaks Into Stars". Wired.
  12. ^ THR Staff (December 5, 2016). "'Beverly Hills Cop': THR's 1984 Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  13. ^ "Beverly Hills Cop". Box Office Mojo.
  14. ^ Breihan, Tom (June 12, 2020). "Rain Man's movie-star chemistry holds up better than its depiction of autism". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 19, 2022.
  15. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 20, 1988). "REVIEW/FILM; DE NIRO AND GRODIN IN CROSS-COUNTRY CHASE". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Idasetima, Courtney (December 23, 2017). "The Cast of 'Scent of a Woman,' Then and Now". The Hollywood Reporter.
  17. ^ Maslin, Janet (November 13, 1998). "FILM REVIEW; When Death Comes to Call, Serve Peanut Butter". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "Meet Joe Black". Box Office Mojo.
  19. ^ a b c Patches, Matt (December 19, 2014). "MARTIN BREST DIRECTED BEVERLY HILLS COP, MIDNIGHT RUN AND, YES, GIGLI. THEN HE VANISHED. WHY?". Playboy. Archived from the original on December 22, 2014.
  20. ^ Saito, Stephen (July 26, 2021). ""Every Day Was Like, 'How Do We Pull This Off?'" Martin Brest on "Midnight Run"". Moveable Feast. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  21. ^ "Franklin J. Schaffner Award".
  22. ^ Wendy M. ; Siedell Daniel A. Brest, Martin; Blazier (January 1, 2009). An Unfinished Conversation: Collecting Entique Martinez Celaya. Boca Raton Museum of Art. ISBN 978-0-936859-80-4.((cite book)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ "Tom Chamberlain: Regardless". Drawing Room. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  24. ^ "Text Book Tamy BenTor Miki Carmi". Retrieved February 9, 2024.