Tom Shadyac

Active - 1987 - 2019  |   Born - Dec 11, 1958 in Falls Church, Virginia, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Fantasy

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A onetime actor/comedian long rumored to have been the youngest writer to ever work for comedy legend Bob Hope, producer and director Tom Shadyac got his start on the standup circuit before his directorial career was launched into the stratosphere with the 1994 Jim Carrey comedy Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. In the years that followed, Shadyac would establish himself as one of the most prolific comedy directors in Hollywood while working with some of the biggest names in the business.

A Virginia native who made the journey westward in the early '80s and quickly earned a solid reputation as a joke writer, Shadyac tried his hand at acting while attending UCLA, with a small role in the 1987 sports comedy Jocks and a bit part on Magnum, P.I. serving as early career highlights. It wasn't long before the increasingly prolific funnyman was looking to expand his skills, and in 1991 it was time to try his hand at directing with the made-for-television comedy Frankenstein: The College Years. Though the film didn't necessarily receive rave reviews, it did provide the emerging director with the experience he would need to make his next film an unsubstantiated hit.

When Ace Ventura: Pet Detective hit the multiplexes in February 1994, audiences were introduced to the man who would become the comedy icon of a generation, and it was Shadyac who played a key part in making that happen. As director and co-screenwriter of the film, Shadyac established a long-running professional relationship with rubber-faced, former In Living Color star Carrey -- a relationship that would later continue to great success with such box-office hits as Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty. Having successfully launched Carrey's film career with Ace Ventura, Shadyac's would next turn one of Hollywood's most foul-mouthed comedians into an icon of family entertainment with the 1996 comedy The Nutty Professor. A detour into sentimentality with the 1998 comedy drama misfire Patch Adams proved an important milestone in Shadyac's career by providing the filmmaker with his first producer credit, and in the few years following the box-office bomb Dragonfly, the prolific filmmaker would continue to serve as producer on screens both big and small with work on 8 Simple Rules...for Dating My Teenage Daughter, Bruce Almighty, and Accepted. Despite his longtime friend Carrey's refusal to appear in the proposed sequel to Bruce Almighty, Shadyac would remain faithful to his 2003 hit by returning to the helm to direct Steve Carell in 2007's Evan Almighty.

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  • In 1983 at the age of 24, became one of the youngest staff writers ever employed by Bob Hope.
  • Suffered a serious head injury during a bicycle accident in 2007.
  • Decided to give up the "Hollywood lifestyle" in 2008 and lead a simpler existence: sold his Beverly Hills mansion, moved into a Malibu trailer park, gave away large sums of money to charitable endeavors and opened a homeless shelter in Charlottesville, VA.
  • Became an adjunct professor of communication at Pepperdine University's Seaver College in California in 2011.
  • Published his philosophical tome Life's Operating Manual in 2013.
  • Gave the 2013 commencement address at the graduation ceremony for Malibu High School in California.
  • His production company, Shady Acres Entertainment, is a play on his last name.
  • Is three quarters Lebanese and one quarter Irish.