×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Joe Penhall

10 Screenwriters to Watch

Joe Penhall reckons he didn’t really crack screenwriting until he adapted Cormac McCarthy’s novel “The Road” for director John Hillcoat.

Born in Britain but raised in Australia, the scribe has enjoyed success as a playwright since 1994, when his debut, “Some Voices,” was staged at the Royal Court, London’s legendary crucible of new talent. His subsequent plays, including “Love and Understanding,” “Blue/Orange” and “Landscape With Weapon,” met with equal acclaim.

His experience in movies, starting with the bigscreen version of “Some Voices,” has been more mixed.

“The shift to film was really big, an enormous task,” Penhall admits. “I didn’t really know what I was doing, and if you watch ‘Some Voices,’ you can tell I didn’t.”

He spent six fruitless years working on “The Last King of Scotland.” “I went to Uganda, met Idi Amin’s henchmen and victims, but then the producers brought on other writers, and I took my name off it because I couldn’t really see much of me in it.”

He had a happier time adapting Ian McEwan’s novel “Enduring Love” for Roger Michell and Jake Arnott’s gangster novel “The Long Firm” for TV. But it was only when producer Nick Wechsler asked him to work on “The Road” that he really felt it starting to click.

“Theater is a verbal medium, it’s all about words, and my characters tend to be very loquacious. But ‘The Road’ taught me that minimalism, subtext, atmosphere and suggestion are far more potent.”

Hillcoat, on the other hand, argues that Penhall’s theater background is one of his strengths. “His experience with relationships and dialogue that comes from his plays makes him a cut above most screenwriters. Sometimes playwrights don’t have the visual and structural imagination of cinema, but Joe has that as well.”

Penhall recently directed his own short, “The Undertaker,” and hopes to helm his own original script “Mood Swings.” “Directing is the most fun you can have without breaking the law,” he jokes.

SHORTHAND

Age: 40

Influences: Sam

Shepherd: “My hero. He wrote wild plays you can do with three people in a pub, but became a real Hollywood player, too,” Penhall says. And British scribe Hanif Kureishi.

Favorite unproduced script: “Mood Swings,” about a sweet, bookish woman who suffers frontal-lobe trauma which changes her into a raging harpy.

Next up: “Moses Jones,” a dark three-part drama for the BBC about African gangsters, directed by Michael Offer.

Reps: Agents: Nick Marston at Curtis Brown in London, Philip Raskind at Endeavor

More Film

  • IFFAM: Erik Matti Hatches Plans for

    IFFAM: Erik Matti Hatches Plans for ‘On The Job’ Franchise

    Filipino director Erik Matti is known for his eclectic body of work that includes “Honor Thy Father” and “Seklusyon.” His 2013 effort, “On The Job” travelled widely and won several awards including two at the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, and was nominated for an SACD Prize at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight. Matti is at [...]

  • Joan Chen attends the season premiere

    Joan Chen Talks Diversity in Hollywood, Welcomes #MeToo

    Chinese-American actress, writer and director Joan Chen says that she was flattered when Time magazine described her as the “Elizabeth Taylor of China.” When asked at an in-conversation event in Singapore on Saturday whether she paved the way for Chinese actresses to follow in Hollywood, Chen said, “We never go to work because we want [...]

  • Kyzza Terrazas Joins Garcia Bernal, Diego

    Kyzza Terrazas Joins Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna’s La Corriente del Golfo (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Launching their new production house, La Corriente de Golfo, last April, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have tapped Mexican writer-director Kyzza Terrazas as the company’s head of development. The appointment will certainly help build the company appointing an old-rounder capable of overseeing and implementing development, writing and directing, and a longtime [...]

  • IFFAM Actress in Focus: Yao Chen

    IFFAM Actress in Focus: Yao Chen Talks Performing, Producing and Public Pressure

    Macao’s Actress in Focus is a woman who has trained as a boxer, likes British actors, especially Benedict Cumberbatch and Jeremy Irons, and is now setting out her stall as a producer. Yao Chen has built a career over 20 years thanks to TV shows including “My Own Swordsman,” and films including “If You Are [...]

  • Bradley Liew's 'Motel Acacia' Shoots After

    Cautionary Tale, 'Motel Acacia' Under Way After Four Years of Development

    Production has begun on Malaysian director Bradley Liew’s upscale horror film “Motel Acacia.” With a clearly topical message, the film features a hotel bed that eats immigrants. Actor, JC Santos called it: “A cautionary tale of what’s going to happen in the future.” Indonesian star, Nicholas Saputra said the he agreed to the role “because [...]

  • Jon M. ChuUnforgettable Gala, Inside, Los

    'Crazy Rich Asians' Honored at Unforgettable Awards: 'One Movie Every 25 Years is Just Not F—ing Enough'

    Fresh on the heels of its Golden Globe nomination, “Crazy Rich Asians” was the talk of the evening at Kore Asian Media’s 17th annual Unforgettable Awards. Saturday’s event, which celebrates Asian-American trailblazers and their achievements in the entertainment industry, honored a host of Asian actors, directors and influencers, including “Crazy Rich Asians” director Jon M. [...]

  • (L to R) Marco Graf as

    'Roma' Named Best Film of 2018 by L.A. Film Critics Association

    Members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. met today to vote on the year’s best cinema accomplishments. Recent winners of the group’s top prize include “Call Me by Your Name,” “Moonlight,” “Spotlight,” “Boyhood,” “Her”/”Gravity” and “Amour.” List of winners below. Best Film: “Roma” (Runner-up: “Burning”) Best Director: Debra Granik, “Leave No Trace”(Runner-up: Alfonso Cuaron, “Roma”) [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content