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Paul Haggis
Paul Haggis, Canadian Film Centre, 2013-cropped.jpg
Haggis in November 2013
Paul Edward Haggis

(1953-03-10) March 10, 1953 (age 71)
  • Screenwriter
  • producer
  • director
Years active 1975–present
Diane Christine Gettas
(m. 1977; div. 1994)
Deborah Rennard
(m. 1997; div. 2016)
Children 4

Paul Edward Haggis (born March 10, 1953) is a Canadian screenwriter, film producer, and director of film and television. He is best known as screenwriter and producer for consecutive Best Picture Oscar winners Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Crash (2005), the latter of which he also directed. Haggis also co-wrote the war film Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and the James Bond films Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). He is the creator of the television series Due South (1994–1999) and co-creator of Walker, Texas Ranger (1993–2001), among others. Haggis is a two-time Academy Award winner, two-time Emmy Award winner, and seven-time Gemini Award winner. He also assisted in the making of "We Are the World 25 for Haiti". In November 2022, he was found liable in a civil trial which alleged he ... publicist Haleigh Breest and he was required to pay million in damages.

Early life

Paul Edward Haggis was born in London, Ontario, the son of Mary Yvonne (née Metcalf) and Ted Haggis, a World War II veteran and Olympic sprinter in the 1948 Summer Olympics. He was raised as a Catholic, attending Catholic school and facing confrontations with children from Ontario's Protestant majority. His family had stopped going to Mass after finding their parish priest driving a Cadillac, and he considered himself an atheist by early adulthood. The Gallery Theatre in London was owned by his parents, and Haggis gained experience in the field through work at the theatre.

Haggis attended St. Thomas More Elementary School. He started secondary school at Ridley College in St. Catharines, but began getting into bad behavior by skipping his required Royal Canadian Army Cadets drills, breaking into the prefect's office to erase his demerits, and reading the radical magazine Ramparts. After a year, Haggis's parents transferred him to a more progressive preparatory school in Muskoka Lakes. Haggis was taught by a producer of the CBC Radio One news program As It Happens, who allowed him to sit with him as he edited John Dean's testimony to the Watergate hearings for broadcast.

After being inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard, Haggis proceeded to study art at H. B. Beal Secondary School. He opened a theater in Toronto to screen films banned by the Ontario Board of Censors such as The Devils and Last Tango in Paris. After viewing Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blowup in 1974, he traveled to England with the intent of becoming a fashion photographer. Haggis later returned to Canada to pursue studies in cinematography at Fanshawe College. While in London, Ontario, Haggis was converted to the Church of Scientology. In 1975, Haggis moved to Los Angeles, California, to begin a career in writing in the entertainment industry.


Haggis began to work as a writer for television programs, including Dingbat and the Creeps, Richie Rich, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, The Love Boat, One Day at a Time, Diff'rent Strokes, and The Facts of Life. With The Facts of Life, Haggis also gained his first credit as producer. During the 1980s and 1990s, Haggis wrote for television series including thirtysomething, The Tracey Ullman Show, FM, Due South, L.A. Law, and EZ Streets. He helped to create the television series Walker, Texas Ranger; Family Law; and Due South. Haggis served as executive producer of the series Michael Hayes and Family Law. In 1999, he signed a first look deal with Columbia TriStar Television.

Haggis at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival

He gained recognition in the film industry for his work on the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, which Allmovie described as a "serious milestone" for the writer/producer, and as "his first high-profile foray into feature film". Haggis had read two stories written by Jerry Boyd, a boxing trainer who wrote under the name of F.X. Toole.

Haggis later acquired the rights to the stories, and developed them into the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby. Clint Eastwood portrayed the lead character in the film. Eastwood also directed the film, and used the screenplay written by Haggis. Million Dollar Baby received four Academy Awards including the Academy Award for Best Picture.

After Million Dollar Baby, Haggis worked on the 2004 film Crash. Haggis came up with the story for the film on his own, and then wrote and directed the film, which allowed him greater control over his work. Crash was his first experience as director of a major feature film. Highly positive upon release, critical reception of Crash has since polarized, although Roger Ebert called it the best film of 2005.

Crash received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, in addition to four other Academy Award nominations. Haggis received two Academy Awards for the film: Best Picture (as its producer), and Best Writing for his work on the screenplay. With Million Dollar Baby and then Crash, Haggis became the first individual to have written Best Picture Oscar-winners in two consecutive years.

Haggis said that he wrote Crash to "bust liberals", arguing that his fellow liberals were not honest with themselves about the nature of race and racism because they believed that most racial problems had already been resolved in American society.

He has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Writer's Branch since 2005. This allows him to vote on the Academy Awards.

In 2008, Haggis founded production company Hwy61 Films with producer Michael Nozik, and signed a deal to produce films for United Artists. The company is named after the title track of Bob Dylan's 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited.

Personal life

Haggis lives in Santa Monica, California. He has three daughters from his first marriage to Diana Gettas and one son from his second marriage to Deborah Rennard. His younger sister, Jo Francis, is a film editor; they have worked together on several projects.

In 2009, Haggis founded the non-profit organization Artists for Peace and Justice to assist impoverished youth in Haiti. In an interview with Dan Rather, Haggis mentioned that he is an atheist.

Break from Scientology

After maintaining active membership in the Church of Scientology for 35 years, Haggis left the organization in October 2009. He was motivated to leave Scientology in reaction to statements made by the San Diego branch of the Church of Scientology in support of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative which banned same-sex marriage in California.

Haggis wrote to Tommy Davis, the Church's spokesman, and requested that he denounce these statements; when Davis remained silent, Haggis responded that "Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent." Haggis went on to list other grievances against Scientology, including its policy of disconnection, and the smearing of its ex-members through the leaking of their personal details.

The Observer comments that: "The decision of Beghe (Jason Beghe) and Haggis to quit Scientology appears to have caused the movement its greatest recent PR difficulties, not least because of its dependence on Hollywood figures as both a source of revenue for its most expensive courses and an advertisement for the religion."

In an interview with Movieline, Haggis was asked about similarities between his film The Next Three Days and his departure from the Scientology organization; Haggis responded, "I think one's life always parallels art and art parallels life." In February 2011, The New Yorker published a 25,000-word story, "The Apostate", by Lawrence Wright, detailing Haggis's allegations about the Church of Scientology. The article ended by quoting Haggis: "I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't." Haggis was interviewed as part of a group of ex-Scientologists for the 2015 movie Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.



Year Title Director Writer Producer Ref.
1993 Red Hot Yes Yes No
2004 Million Dollar Baby No Yes Yes
Crash Yes Yes Yes
2006 The Last Kiss No Yes No
Flags of Our Fathers No Yes No
Casino Royale No Yes No
Letters from Iwo Jima No Story Executive
2007 In the Valley of Elah Yes Yes Yes
2008 Quantum of Solace No Yes No
2010 The Next Three Days Yes Yes No
2013 Third Person Yes Yes No
2016 Gold No No Executive
2018 5B Yes No Yes Documentary film
Co-directed with Dan Krauss


Year Title Director Writer Executive
Creator Notes Ref.
1987 The Return of the Shaggy Dog No Yes No No
1987–1988 thirtysomething No Yes No No Also supervising producer
1990 City No No Yes Yes
1990–1991 You Take the Kids Yes Yes Yes Yes
1993–2001 Walker, Texas Ranger No No No Yes
1994–1999 Due South Yes Yes Yes Yes Also unit director
1996–1997 EZ Streets Yes Yes Yes Yes
1997–1998 Michael Hayes No Yes Yes No Also developer
1999–2002 Family Law Yes Yes Yes Yes
2006 Entourage No No No No Cameo as himself
2007 The Black Donnellys Yes Yes Yes Yes
2015 Show Me a Hero Yes No Yes No Miniseries

Video games

Year Title Role
2011 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Co-writer

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1985 Humanitas Prize Children's Animation Category CBS Storybreak: "Zucchini" Nominated
1988 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series thirtysomething Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series: Business as Usual Won
Humanitas Prize 60 Minute Category Won
1989 Writers Guild of America Award Episodic Drama Nominated
1995 Gemini Award Best Dramatic Series Due South Won
Best TV Movie Due South: Pilot (#1.0) Won
Best Writing in a Dramatic Series Due South Won
Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series Due South: Pilot (#1.0) Nominated
1996 Canada's Choice Award Due South Won
Best Dramatic Series Won
Best Writing in a Dramatic Series Due South: "Hawk and a Handsaw" Won
Due South: "The Gift of the Wheelman" Won
1997 Viewers for Quality Television Award Founder's Award EZ Streets Won
2001 Writers Guild of America Award Valentine Davies Award Contributions to industry Won
2005 Writers Guild of America Award Best Adapted Screenplay Million Dollar Baby Nominated
American Screenwriters Association Discover Screenwriting Award Won
Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Black Movie Award Outstanding Motion Picture Crash Won
Deauville American Film Festival Grand Special Prize Won
European Film Award Screen International Award Nominated
Hollywood Film Festival Directing work Breakthrough Directing Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award Best Screenplay Crash Won
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Screenplay, Adapted Million Dollar Baby Nominated
San Diego Film Festival Discover Screenwriter Award Life's Work Won
San Francisco International Film Festival Kanbar Award Screenwriting work Won
Satellite Award Best Screenplay, Adapted Million Dollar Baby Won
Outstanding Screenplay, Original Crash Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay, Original Won
USC Scripter Award USC Scripter Award Million Dollar Baby Won
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay – Original Crash Won
2006 Writers Guild of America Award Best Original Screenplay Won
Academy Awards Best Picture Won
Best Original Screenplay Won
Best Director Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Original Screenplay Won
Best Direction Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Nominated
Austin Film Critics Award Best Director Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Writer Won
Best Director Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay Won
David di Donatello Best Foreign Film Won
Edgar Award Best Motion Picture Screenplay Nominated
Humanitas Prize Feature Film Category Won
Independent Spirit Award Best First Feature Won
London Critics Circle Film Award Screenwriter of the Year Won
Director of the Year Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Breakthrough Filmmaker Won
Best Screenplay, Original Nominated
Producers Guild of America Award Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award Nominated
Robert Award Best American Film Nominated
Satellite Award Best Screenplay, Adapted Flags of Our Fathers Nominated
2007 Saturn Award Best Writing Casino Royale Nominated
Edgar Award Best Motion Picture Screenplay Nominated
BAFTA Awards Outstanding British Film Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Venice Film Festival SIGNIS Award In the Valley of Elah Won
Golden Lion Nominated
Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay Letters from Iwo Jima Nominated
2008 David di Donatello Best Foreign Film In the Valley of Elah Nominated
2011 Zurich Film Festival A Tribute To... Award Lifetime Achievement Won
2015 Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing – Miniseries or Television Film Show Me a Hero Nominated

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Paul Haggis para niños

  • List of Canadian directors
  • List of film and television directors
  • List of film producers
  • List of Big Five Academy Award winners and nominees
  • List of people who have won multiple Academy Awards in a single year
  • List of people from Santa Monica, California
  • List of people from London, Ontario
  • Scientology and celebrities
  • Scientology controversies
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