A director who has all but put his trademark on the humane prison drama, director, screenwriter, and producer Frank Darabont made his triumphant feature film directorial debut with The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman as two inmates imprisoned for life, the film earned wide acclaim and a number of honors, including Best (Adapted) Screenplay Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Darabont.
Darabont, who spent his early years in Hollywood as a set decorator and production assistant, got his first break as a production aide on the 1981 horror film Hell Night. His work on the film introduced him to filmmaker Chuck Russell, with whom he would write the screenplays for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), the 1988 update of The Blob, and The Fly 2, the 1989 sequel to David Cronenberg's 1986 classic.
Darabont made his directorial debut with the 1990 made-for-cable Buried Alive, a thriller starring Tim Matheson and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Following the success of The Shawshank Redemption in 1994, Darabont took a five-year hiatus from directing, making a triumphant return with the 1999 prison drama The Green Mile. Starring Tom Hanks as a kind prison guard and Michael Clarke Duncan in an Oscar-nominated performance as a saintly death row inmate, the film garnered a slew of awards in addition to Duncan's nomination; they included a Directors Guild of America Best Director Award nomination, as well as three more Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and a second Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for Darabont.
His next project was the ill-received Jim Carrey drama The Majestic. He attempted to right himself by adapting Stephen King yet again, this time with the horror film The Mist. He began taking on small-screen projects, developing a hit when he was the show runner on The Walking Dead for that program's first two seasons.