Stephen Hopkins had a diverse background in graphic design and storyboarding prior to taking off as director of Hollywood action features. Hopkins steadily gained clout through the 1990s, and in 2001 linked up with his most visible venture, serving as co-executive producer and director of about half the episodes of Fox's breakthrough real-time television drama 24.
Hopkins was born in Jamaica and raised in England and Australia. He ventured out into the working world as a designer of album covers before getting in good with Australian director Russell Mulcahy, who was then working as a music video director. Hopkins worked as a storyboard artist for Mulcahy and set designer on his videos. Forging his own opportunity, Hopkins began directing videos and commercials himself, but eventually returned to Australia to serve as second-unit director on Mulcahy's cult hit Highlander (1986). This paved the way for his own directorial debut, Dangerous Game (1987).
Upon migrating to Hollywood, Hopkins was quick to establish himself as an effective genre director with A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989) and Predator 2 (1990). His films increased in stature and budget, if not necessarily impact or ultimate success, as the 1990s progressed. He followed up the Tommy Lee Jones-Jeff Bridges bomber flick Blown Away (1994) with another high-powered duo, Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer, in the 1996 lion-hunting odyssey The Ghost and the Darkness. He graduated to genuine popcorn-flick status with the big-screen adaptation of the TV hit Lost in Space, released in 1998. The failure of that film dulled Hopkins' star a little, though he did end up dating star Heather Graham for a short period.
When the Gene Hackman-Morgan Freeman thriller Under Suspicion (2000) slipped under the radar, Hopkins followed suit. But the director restored some urgency by becoming a main creative force behind one of the catchiest television gimmicks in years. 24 debuted in the fall of 2001 to the tune of great critical buzz about its real-time format, which included 24 hour-long episodes charting an exhausting day in the life of a targeted presidential candidate (Dennis Haysbert) and the counter-terrorist agent (Kiefer Sutherland) who tries to protect him from assassination. 2004 proved an especially good year for Hopkins, with his critically acclaimed biopic The Life and Death of Peter Sellers earning a staggering nine Emmys, including one for Best Director, and his three-part mini-series Traffic - co-directed with Eric Bross - earning an impressive three nominations. Two short years later Hopkins was back in the theaters with The Reaping; an apocalyptic tale of a small Louisiana town beset by a series of apparent biblical plagues and starring two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank. He became an executive producer for the cable series Californication in 2007, and three years later helmed Thorne: Sleepyhead.