David Gordon Green (1975–)

Director, writer, and producer David Gordon Green is a native Arkansan whose films have received many awards. Film critic Roger Ebert described him as “a director of tones, emotions, and moments of truth,” while New York Times film critic A. O. Scott has compared Green’s work with the writings of William Faulkner. Green’s films are generally coming-of-age tales set in small, rural Southern towns.

Although born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on April 9, 1975, David Gordon Green was raised in Richardson, Texas, just outside of Dallas. He grew up as the son of medical school dean Gordon Green and Lamaze instructor Jeanne Green. At an early age, Green developed an admiration for nontraditional films such as Walkabout, Never Cry Wolf, The Elephant Man, Deliverance, and Killer of Sheep.

After graduating from Richardson High School in 1993, Green enrolled in the film production program at the North Carolina School for the Arts, located in Winston-Salem. Here, he met many of the people who later contributed to his films, including actors Danny McBride and Paul Schneider, cinematographers Adam Stone and Tim Orr, and sound technician Chris Gebert. Green’s first two full feature films, George Washington (2000) and All the Real Girls (2003), were shot at locales in North Carolina. While at the North Carolina School for the Arts, Green also met fellow Arkansan Jeff Nichols. In 2007, Green co-produced Shotgun Stories, a critically acclaimed film written and directed by Nichols and shot entirely in Arkansas, mainly in the town of England (Lonoke County) and its surrounding area.

George Washington received the Discovery Award at the 2000 Toronto Film Festival and Best First Film at the New York Film Critic Circle Awards. Other films by Green have been recognized favorably as well, including Undertow (2004) and Snow Angels (2007). In 2008, however, Green veered away from the dramatic themes of these earlier films, which he had both written and directed, to direct the film Pineapple Express, a mainstream comedy which received generally positive reviews. The following year, he directed three out of the six episodes of the first season of the HBO comedy series Eastbound & Down; he ultimately directed twelve episodes of the series. Green’s second foray into the stoner comedy genre, Your Highness (2011), was panned by critics and fared poorly at the box office.

Green also directed The Sitter (2011), directed and wrote the screenplay for Prince Avalanche (2013), and directed Joe (2014), starring Nicholas Cage. He began shooting Manglehorn, serving as director and producer, in late 2013; starring Al Pacino, it was released in 2015 to mixed reviews and did poorly at the box office. Released in the fall of 2015, Our Brand Is Crisis, which starred Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton, was a loose remake of a 2005 documentary by the same name. This was followed in 2017 by Stronger, a critically acclaimed dramatization of the life of Jeff Bauman, who survived the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

In 2018, he released Halloween, a sequel/reboot (also called a “legacyquel”) of the long-running horror franchise. The movie was a significant financial success and spawned the sequels Halloween Kills (2021) and Halloween Ends (2022). Green then headed another horror franchise sequel/reboot, directing (and co-writing) The Exorcist: Believer, released in 2023; it is the first of a planned trilogy.

Green also served as executive producer for HBO’s 2019 television series The Righteous Gemstones and episodes of other series, such as Dickinson and Mythic Quest.

Green lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. He remains active writing, directing, and producing both in television and theatrical films. He was inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame in 2014.

For additional information:
“David Gordon Green.” Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0337773/ (accessed March 28, 2022).

Leigh, Danny. “If I Ever Do Anything Clever, Shoot Me.” The Guardian, September 25, 2001. Online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2001/sep/25/artsfeatures1 (accessed March 28, 2022).

Joe W. Watson
Little Rock, Arkansas


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