Randall Wallace

Active - 1995 - 2020  |   Born - Jul 28, 1949   |   Genres - War, Drama, Adventure, Science & Technology, Culture & Society

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Biography by Aubry Anne D'Arminio

Randall Wallace planned on becoming a minister or a songwriter, not a filmmaker. After leaving the seminary to write music, he worked as a novelist and television scribe before penning the award-winning script to Braveheart (1995) and embarking on a directing career. Raised in Tennessee, Wallace began writing stories at the age of seven. He majored in religion at Duke University before joining a seminary, but took various writing classes all through school. He even opened his own record company to release his original songs, which were played on local radio stations throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. After exiting the seminary, Wallace moved to Nashville to try his hand at a music career. He ran the animal shows at Opryland while trying to establish himself as a songwriter. Unfortunately, because he did not write country music (the city's primary genre), he experienced very little success. In 1980, Wallace moved to Los Angeles where he began writing novels, such as Blood of the Lamb and Where Angels Watch. He earned rave reviews for his work -- critics compared him to Robert Penn Warren and Charles Dickens -- but his sales were disappointing. With the help of producer Stephen J. Cannell, Wallace tried his hand at television writing, composing teleplays for Hunter, J.J. Starbuck, Sonny Spoon, and Broken Badges. A Scottish American, Wallace formulated the idea for Braveheart -- the true story of medieval Scottish patriot William Wallace -- while visiting Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. After writing the screenplay, he developed the film with his own funds before teaming with its director and star, Mel Gibson. An extraordinary success, Braveheart garnered several Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Wallace earned a Writer's Guild of America Award, a Golden Globe nomination, and an Oscar nod for his screenplay. Three years later, Wallace made his directing debut with Man in the Iron Mask (1998), an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' novel about the Three Musketeers' struggle to replace Louis XIV with a more worthy king. Despite its star-studded cast -- Leonardo Di Caprio, Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, and Gerard Depardieu -- the film was not the blockbuster Wallace had hoped it would be. Shortly afterward, Wallace met director Michael Bay, who asked him to write the script for Pearl Harbor (2001). Though it began well, their collaboration hit a snag when Bay called in several script doctors to add more action sequences to the film. Disagreeing with Bay's decision, Wallace quietly quit the project, though he is still Pearl Harbor's only credited scriptwriter. He immediately started pre-production on his sophomore directing effort, the Vietnam drama We Were Soldiers (2002). After discovering its source material -- a memoir written by Lieutenant General Hal Moore and war correspondent Joseph Galloway -- in an airport bookstore, he bought the rights to the film adaptation with his earnings from Braveheart. Wallace spent several years writing and developing the project himself before joining forces with star Mel Gibson's Icon Productions. Released in 2002, We Were Soldiers also featured Greg Kinnear, Chris Klein, and Marc Blucas and was Wallace's most favorably reviewed film since Braveheart. He quickly went to work on polishing his pet combat script, a World War II film based on his father-in-law's experience as a German P.O.W. at the end of the war.

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