Paul Edward Haggis is a Canadian screenwriter, film producer, and director of film and television. He is best known as screenwriter and producer for consecutive Best Picture Oscar winners: Million Dollar Baby and Crash, the latter of which he also directed. Haggis also co-wrote the war film Flags of Our Fathers and the James Bond films Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. He is the creator of the television series Due South and co-creator of Walker, Texas Ranger, among others. Haggis is a two-time Academy Award winner, two-time Emmy Award winner, and seven-time Gemini Award winner. He also assisted in the making of the "We Are the World 25 For Haiti" music video.
Haggis remains embroiled in a civil lawsuit related to an alleged sexual assault in New York City in 2013.
Early lifePaul Edward Haggis was born in London, Ontario, the son of Mary Yvonne and Ted Haggis, an Olympic sprinter. He was raised as a Catholic, but considered himself an atheist in early adulthood. The Gallery Theatre in London was owned by his parents, and Haggis gained experience in the field through work at the theatre.
Haggis attended St. Thomas More Elementary School, and after being inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard, proceeded to study art at H. B. Beal Secondary School. After viewing Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blowup, he traveled to England with the intent of becoming a fashion photographer. Haggis later returned to Canada to pursue studies in cinematography at Fanshawe College. In 1975, Haggis moved to Los Angeles, California, to begin a career in writing in the entertainment industry.
CareerHaggis began to work as a writer for television programs, including The Love Boat, One Day at a Time, Diff'rent Strokes, and The Facts of Life. With The Facts of Life, Haggis also gained his first credit as producer. During the 1980s and 1990s, Haggis wrote for television series including thirtysomething, The Tracey Ullman Show, FM, Due South, L.A. Law, and EZ Streets. He helped to create the television series Walker, Texas Ranger; Family Law; and Due South. Haggis served as executive producer of the series Michael Hayes and Family Law.|left|180x180px
He gained recognition in the film industry for his work on the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, which Allmovie described as a "serious milestone" for the writer/producer, and as "his first high-profile foray into feature film". Haggis had read two stories written by Jerry Boyd, a boxing trainer who wrote under the name of F.X. Toole.
Haggis later acquired the rights to the stories, and developed them into the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby. Clint Eastwood portrayed the lead character in the film. Eastwood also directed the film, and used the screenplay written by Haggis. Million Dollar Baby received four Academy Awards including the Academy Award for Best Picture.
After Million Dollar Baby, Haggis worked on the 2004 film Crash. Haggis came up with the story for the film on his own, and then wrote and directed the film, which allowed him greater control over his work. Crash was his first experience as director of a major feature film. Highly positive upon release, critical reception of Crash has since polarized, although Roger Ebert called it the best film of 2005.
Crash received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, in addition to four other Academy Award nominations. Haggis received two Academy Awards for the film: Best Picture, and Best Writing for his work on the screenplay. With Million Dollar Baby and then Crash, Haggis became the first individual to have written Best Picture Oscar-winners in two consecutive years.
Haggis said that he wrote Crash to "bust liberals", arguing that his fellow liberals were not honest with themselves about the nature of race and racism because they believed that most racial problems had already been resolved in American society.
Awards and nominationsHaggis has been nominated for dozens of awards.
|1985||Humanitas Prize||Children's Animation Category||CBS Storybreak: "Zucchini"|
|1988||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Drama Series||thirtysomething|
|1988||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series: Business as Usual||thirtysomething|
|1988||Humanitas Prize||60 Minute Category||thirtysomething|
|1989||Writers Guild of America Award||Episodic Drama||thirtysomething|
|1995||Gemini Award||Best Dramatic Series||Due South|
|1995||Gemini Award||Best TV Movie||Due South: Pilot|
|1995||Gemini Award||Best Writing in a Dramatic Series||Due South|
|1995||Gemini Award||Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series||Due South: Pilot|
|1996||Gemini Award||Canada's Choice Award||Due South|
|1996||Gemini Award||Best Dramatic Series||Due South|
|1996||Gemini Award||Best Writing in a Dramatic Series||Due South: "Hawk and a Handsaw"|
|1996||Gemini Award||Best Writing in a Dramatic Series||Due South: "The Gift of the Wheelman"|
|1997||Viewers for Quality Television Award||Founder's Award||EZ Streets|
|2001||Writers Guild of America Award||Valentine Davies Award||Contributions to industry|
|2005||Writers Guild of America Award||Best Adapted Screenplay||Million Dollar Baby|
|2005||American Screenwriters Association||Discover Screenwriting Award||Million Dollar Baby|
|2005||Black Movie Award||Outstanding Motion Picture||Crash|
|2005||Deauville American Film Festival||Grand Special Prize||Crash|
|2005||European Film Award||Screen International Award||Crash|
|2005||Hollywood Film Festival||Directing work||Breakthrough Directing|
|2005||Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award||Best Screenplay||Crash|
|2005||Online Film Critics Society Award||Best Screenplay, Adapted||Million Dollar Baby|
|2005||San Diego Film Festival||Discover Screenwriter Award||Life's Work|
|2005||San Francisco International Film Festival||Kanbar Award||Screenwriting work|
|2005||Satellite Award||Best Screenplay, Adapted||Million Dollar Baby|
|2005||Satellite Award||Outstanding Screenplay, Original||Crash|
|2005||Southeastern Film Critics Association Award||Best Screenplay, Original||Crash|
|2005||USC Scripter Award||USC Scripter Award||Million Dollar Baby|
|2005||Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award||Best Screenplay – Original||Crash|
|2006||Writers Guild of America Award||Best Original Screenplay||Crash|
|2006||Directors Guild of America Award||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures||Crash|
|2006||Austin Film Critics Award||Best Director||Crash|
|2006||Broadcast Film Critics Association Award||Best Writer||Crash|
|2006||Broadcast Film Critics Association Award||Best Director||Crash|
|2006||Chicago Film Critics Association Award||Best Screenplay||Crash|
|2006||David di Donatello||Best Foreign Film||Crash|
|2006||Edgar Award||Best Motion Picture Screenplay||Crash|
|2006||Humanitas Prize||Feature Film Category||Crash|
|2006||Independent Spirit Award||Best First Feature||Crash|
|2006||London Critics Circle Film Award||Screenwriter of the Year||Crash|
|2006||London Critics Circle Film Award||Director of the Year||Crash|
|2006||Online Film Critics Society Award||Best Breakthrough Filmmaker||Crash|
|2006||Online Film Critics Society Award||Best Screenplay, Original||Crash|
|2006||Producers Guild of America Award||Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award||Crash|
|2006||Robert Award||Best American Film||Crash|
|2006||Satellite Award||Best Screenplay, Adapted||Flags of Our Fathers|
|2007||Saturn Award||Best Writing||Casino Royale|
|2007||Edgar Award||Best Motion Picture Screenplay||Casino Royale|
|2007||Venice Film Festival||SIGNIS Award||In the Valley of Elah|
|2007||Venice Film Festival||Golden Lion||In the Valley of Elah|
|2008||David di Donatello||Best Foreign Film||In the Valley of Elah|
|2015||Directors Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Directing – Miniseries or Television Film||Show Me a Hero|
Personal lifeHaggis lives in Santa Monica, California. He has three daughters from his first marriage to Diana Gettas and one son from his second marriage to Deborah Rennard.
Haggis founded the non-profit organization Artists for Peace and Justice to assist impoverished youth in Haiti. In an interview with Dan Rather, Haggis mentions that he is an atheist.
Break from ScientologyAfter maintaining active membership in the Church of Scientology for 35 years, Haggis left the organization in October 2009. He was motivated to leave Scientology in reaction to statements made by the San Diego branch of the Church of Scientology in support of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative which banned same-sex marriage in California.
Haggis wrote to Tommy Davis, the Church's spokesman, and requested that he denounce these statements; when Davis remained silent, Haggis responded that "Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent." Haggis went on to list other grievances against Scientology, including its policy of disconnection, and the smearing of its ex-members through the leaking of their personal details.
The Observer commented on defections of Haggis and actor Jason Beghe from Scientology, "The decision of Beghe and Haggis to quit Scientology appears to have caused the movement its greatest recent PR difficulties, not least because of its dependence on Hollywood figures as both a source of revenue for its most expensive courses and an advertisement for the religion."
In an interview with Movieline, Haggis was asked about similarities between his film The Next Three Days and his departure from the Scientology organization; Haggis responded, "I think one's life always parallels art and art parallels life." In February 2011, The New Yorker published a 25,000-word story, "The Apostate", by Lawrence Wright, detailing Haggis's allegations about the Church of Scientology. The article ended by quoting Haggis: "I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't." Haggis was interviewed as part of a group of ex-Scientologists for the 2015 movie .
Sexual misconduct allegationsOn January 5, 2018, Haggis was accused of sexual misconduct including multiple rapes. He is facing a civil lawsuit over these allegations. Haggis has denied the allegations, claiming one of the accusers attempted to extort him for $9 million. In July 2019, Haggis was ordered to provide a DNA sample as part of legal proceedings. According to published reports, Haggis and his legal team have worked to block the testimony of additional alleged victims, as the initial civil case heads to trial. After the initial accusation, three additional women came forward with various accusations of sexual assault and misconduct.
In December of 2019, Haggis lost an appeal before the First Judicial Department Appellate Division in New York, which found that rape amounts to a gender-based hate crime.
Fellow Scientology defectors Leah Remini and Mike Rinder have defended him, suggesting that the Church of Scientology may be involved, an assertion both the accusers and the Church itself deny.