Stephen Gaghan began his career as a writer, with articles and stories published in The Iowa Review, Newsweek, Esquire and The New York Times. The Louisville, Kentucky native made his screenwriting debut in 1995, when he wrote a script for an episode of Fox’s New York Undercover. The experience started him in an entirely new direction, as he secured a position as story editor and writer on the CBS-TV series American Gothic from 1995 to 1996, then moved on to the ABC drama NYPD Blue (1996 to 1997) as well as The Practice (1997).
In 2000, he made his motion picture screenwriting debut with the military courtroom drama Rules of Engagement. The film was moderately successful, but the experience didn’t prepare him for the huge success he would enjoy with his next script.
His personal experience with addiction to crack provided him with the insight to skillfully adapt a six-hour British mini-series into the screenplay for Traffic (2000), a film about the war on drugs. A recovering drug addict, at one time Stephen lived in fear that his addiction would become known. Traffic was a cathartic experience for him, and he hoped that by bringing his former addiction into the open, it would help others with similar problems to find the courage to ask for help.
The film was a hit with critics and audiences alike, and went on to win five Academy Awards®, including one for Stephen for Best Adapted Screenplay. Stephen won awards all over the world for his screenplay, including a Golden Globe, BAFTA award, Edgar Allan Poe award, and Writer’s Guild of America Award, to name a few.
Stephen found himself on Hollywood’s A-list, with enough clout to be able to direct his next script, Abandon (2002), himself. His next film was the drama thriller Syriana, which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. It also earned an Oscar win for star George Clooney.
Stephen's next directorial turn didn't come until nearly a decade later. In 2017, he released Gold, an adventure thriller about two men (Matthew McConaughey, Édgar Ramírez) who venture into the Indonesian jungle to find gold.
Most recently, he wrote and directed Dolittle (2020), an updated adaptation of the popular childrens books by Hugh Lofting, starring Robert Downey Jr. in the title role.
Stephen has been married to Minnie Mortimer since May 19, 2007.