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Paul Schrader Biography

Birth Name:
Paul Joseph Schrader
Birth Place:
Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States
Director, screenwriter

Fast Facts

  • Was raised in a strict Dutch Calvinist home and didn't see his first movie (The Absent-Minded Professor) until his late teens
  • Worked as a film journalist in the late 1960s and early '70s but was fired by the Los Angeles Free Press in 1969 after he panned Easy Rider
  • Was mentored in journalism by film critic Pauline Kael
  • Published Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer (an expansion of his UCLA master's thesis) in 1972
  • Also wrote Schrader on Schrader (1990)
  • Wrote the screenplays for four films directed by Martin Scorsese: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and Bringing Out the Dead
  • Collaborated with his brother, Leonard, on the screenplays for The Yakuza (his screenwriting debut, 1974), Blue Collar (his directorial debut, 1978) and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
  • Was hired to direct Exorcist: The Beginning, a 2004 sequel to The Exorcist, but was fired during production
  • Most of his footage wasn't used, but after The Beginning flopped, the studio reinstated the unused footage and rereleased the film as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
  • Received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute (where he studied in the late '60s) in 2005


  • 2019Independent Spirit Awards-Best Director: nominated
  • 2019Independent Spirit Awards-Best Screenplay: nominated
  • 2018Critics' Choice Awards-Best Original Screenplay: winner
  • 1999Independent Spirit Awards-Best Director: nominated
  • 1999Independent Spirit Awards-Best Screenplay: nominated
  • 1998Independent Spirit Awards-Best Director: nominated
  • 1998Independent Spirit Awards-Best Screenplay: nominated
  • 1993Independent Spirit Awards-Best Screenplay: nominated
  • 1985Cannes Film Festival-Best Artistic Contribution: winner
  • 1977Golden Globe-Best Screenplay - Motion Picture: nominated
  • 1977Writers Guild Awards-Original Drama: nominated