A successful novelist and journalist before he turned to writing screenplays, Oscar-winning Departed scribe William Monahan rose fast through the ranks to work with some of the biggest names in the business before being bestowed the biggest honor in moviemaking for just his second cinematic outing.
Born in Boston, Monahan received his higher education at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst before relocating to New York City. It was there that the aspiring writer earned a steady paycheck as an editor for SPY Magazine while establishing himself as a particularly gifted journalist, essayist, and critic. In 1997 Monahan released his critically acclaimed first novel Light House: A Trifle in addition to earning a Pushcart Prize for short fiction. Just four short years later Monahan sold his first screenplay -- an epic take on William Eaton's historic march on Tripoli during the Barbary Wars. Originally set to be directed by Hollywood heavyweight Ridley Scott, the film went unproduced for the time being. Despite this disheartening setback, however, Monahan's talent was evident to all who read the screenplay and the writer was subsequently commissioned to pen an original tale set during the Middle Ages -- a project that would eventually evolve into Scott's 2005 feature Kingdom of Heaven. It was around this time that Monahan was approached about adapting the complex screenplay to the 2002 Hong Kong Film Awards Best Picture winner Infernal Affairs for a remake set to be helmed by legendary director Martin Scorsese. Transplanting the action from Hong Kong to his hometown of Boston, Monahan successfully adapted one of the most highly praised Hong Kong crime films in recent history into a complex tale of high-level corruption that would not only net him a Best Screenplay award, but win director Scorsese his very first Oscar as well.
Of course, after his big win on Oscar night, expectations were near-stratospheric for Monahan's next project, and with Jurassic Park IV, Wartime Lies, and Tripoli all looming on the horizon, it appeared as if he was ready and willing to work harder than ever in order to maintain the remarkable momentum he had established at such an early stage in his screenwriting career.