Christopher McQuarrie

Christopher McQuarrie (born October 25, 1968) is an American screenwriter, director and producer. He received the BAFTA Award, Independent Spirit Award, and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the neo-noir mystery film The Usual Suspects (1995).

Christopher McQuarrie
McQuarrie at the 2012 premiere of Jack Reacher
Born (1968-10-25) October 25, 1968
Princeton, New Jersey or Princeton Junction, New Jersey, United States (sources differ)
OccupationScreenwriter, director, producer
Years active1993–present

McQuarrie made his directorial debut with the crime thriller film The Way of the Gun (2000). He is a frequent collaborator with Tom Cruise, having written and directed the action films Jack Reacher (2012), Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), and Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018). He was also part of the writing team on the films Valkyrie (2008), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), The Mummy (2017), and Top Gun: Maverick (2020).

Early life

McQuarrie was born in 1968 in either Princeton, New Jersey, or Princeton Junction, New Jersey, a nearby unincorporated community where he was raised.[1][2][3] After graduating from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South in 1986,[4] he worked as an assistant at Christ Church Grammar School in Perth, Western Australia, recalling in 2013, “I was offered an Interim program. ... I picked a place out of a hat and ended up at Christ Church Grammar School. I lived at the school and worked at the boarding school, though I did very little work".[5] Fired after nine months, "I hitchhiked for three months, came home, knocked around for about a month and then immediately started working for this detective agency.... [It] was actually a glorified security-guard position. I think in the four years I worked there I did about six investigations...."[6]


McQuarrie's first feature film was the 1993 thriller Public Access, directed by Bryan Singer. It won the Critics Award at the Deauville American Film Festival and shared the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize. The film did not secure a theatrical distributor in the United States.[7] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an approval rating of 58%.[8]

McQuarrie wrote The Usual Suspects (1995), for which he received best screenplay awards from Premiere Magazine, the Texas Board of Review, and the Chicago Critics as well as the Edgar Award, The Independent Spirit Award, and the British and American Academy Awards. The film was later included on the New York Times list of the 1000 greatest films ever made, and the character Verbal Kint was included on AFI's list of the 100 greatest Heroes and Villains of all time. In 2006, the Writers Guild of America voted The Usual Suspects No. 35 on their list of 101 Greatest Screenplays. In his third collaboration with Singer, McQuarrie performed an extensive rewrite on X-Men, but ultimately removed his name from the project.[9]

In 2000, McQuarrie made his directorial debut with The Way of the Gun, a modern-day Western for which he also wrote the script. It starred Benicio del Toro, Ryan Phillippe and James Caan. The film, budgeted at US$8.5 million,[10] received mainly negative reviews[11] and performed poorly at the box office, grossing US$13 million worldwide.[10]

Eight years later, McQuarrie co-wrote and co-produced Valkyrie, which opened on December 25, 2008. The story is based on the real-life July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The script was co-written with Nathan Alexander. The pair had access to members of the Stauffenberg family as well as a book written by Fabian von Schlabrendorff – a conspirator who survived.[12] While doing research for the screenplay, they also spoke with Hitler's bodyguard. The film stars Tom Cruise and is directed by Bryan Singer. It received two awards, the BMI Film Music Award and the Bambi Award for Courage. In 2009, McQuarrie was hired to pen the script for the then-untitled The Wolverine.[13]

McQuarrie co-wrote the 2010 film The Tourist with Julian Fellowes, Jeffrey Nachmanoff and director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The film starred Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie and grossed US$278 million worldwide.[14] It received three Golden Globe Award nominations and several other awards, among them the Redbox Movie Award for the most rented drama of 2011.[15]

In 2011, McQuarrie directed his second feature Jack Reacher; an adaptation of One Shot, the ninth in the series of 21 Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. Filming began in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area on October 3, 2011, and continued through the end of January 2012. The movie was released in December 2012 by Paramount Pictures.[16] In 2012, McQuarrie had stepped in to rewrite the script for World War Z after Drew Goddard and Damon Lindelof had exited the film.[17][18]

2013 saw the release of McQuarrie's fourth collaboration with Singer: Jack the Giant Slayer, co-written by McQuarrie. The film was a failure at the box office, grossing only US$198 million with an estimated US$240 million budget (excluding promotional fees).[19] The critical reviews were generally mixed.[20] McQuarrie co-wrote the 2014 science fiction action thriller Edge of Tomorrow with Jez and John-Henry Butterworth, based on the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill. While the film underperformed at the box office on its opening weekend with only US$28.8 million, it received strong reviews and became a word-of-mouth hit, grossing just over US$100 million at the domestic box office.

McQuarrie completed his third feature as director in 2015. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the fifth entry in the Mission: Impossible film series, which he co-wrote with Drew Pearce. The film received strong reviews and grossed over US$195 million at the North American box office and won a Golden Tomato for Best Action-Adventure Movie of 2015. McQuarrie followed it with Mission: Impossible – Fallout in 2018, which marked his third directing collaboration with Tom Cruise. The film was a hit, and also received strong reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and other critic websites. The film was the highest-grossing film from the franchise and won the Critic's Choice award for Best Action Film and a Golden Tomato for Best Action-Adventure Movie of 2018. Initially hesitant to return to the franchise,[21] McQuarrie finalized a deal to write and direct Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 in January 2019. Both films will shoot back-to-back in 2019 - 2020 and will release on July 23, 2021 and August 5, 2022 respectively.[22][23]

By October 2015, McQuarrie had completed a rewrite of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and spent two weeks "tightening up the story".[24] McQuarrie and screenwriter Dylan Kussman were both commissioned by Tom Cruise to write a new script for The Mummy.[25]

McQuarrie is currently slated to helm a feature film adaptation of the 1970s animated series Star Blazers (itself an adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato), with Zach Dean as screenwriter.[26] He has been attached to the project since February 2011.[27]



Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1993 Public Access No Yes No Sundance Grand Jury Prize
1995 The Usual Suspects No Yes No Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay
Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture
2000 The Way of the Gun Yes Yes No Directorial Debut
2008 Valkyrie No Yes Yes
2010 The Tourist No Yes No
2012 Jack Reacher Yes Yes No
2013 Jack the Giant Slayer No Yes No
2014 Edge of Tomorrow No Yes No Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Writing
Nominated—Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation
2015 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Yes Yes No
2016 Jack Reacher: Never Go Back No No Yes
2017 The Mummy No Yes No Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Screenplay
2018 Mission: Impossible – Fallout Yes Yes Yes Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Writing
2020 Top Gun: Maverick No Yes No Post-production

Uncredited Writing Roles


Year Title Writer Executive
1994 NYPD Blue Yes No Episode: "The Final Adjustment"
1997 The Underworld Yes No Television film
2010 Persons Unknown Yes Yes Series creator;
13 episodes
TBA The President Is Missing No Yes Miniseries;


  • McQuarrie, Christopher. The Usual Suspects. Faber and Faber Publishers (1996); ISBN 0571191533/ISBN 9780571191536


  1. Different sources and in the case of All Movie Guide, the same source give both places. Note that Princeton Junction has no hospital.
  2. Buchanan, Jason. "Christopher McQuarrie". All Movie Guide / Rovi via The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved November 21, 2012. Birthplace: Princeton, New Jersey, USA ... Born in Princeton Junction, NJ, in 1968...
  3. "Christopher McQuarrie". Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015. Birth Place: Princeton, New Jersey, USA
  4. Miller, Lynn (December 15, 2007). "More West Windsor Filmmaking Stars on the Horizon". West Windsor & Plainsboro News. West Windsor, New Jersey. Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. Retrieved December 15, 2007. Two West Windsor-Plainsboro High School graduates are following in the footsteps of two other filmmakers from West Windsor, Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie. Singer, Class of 1984, and McQuarrie, Class of 1986, have recently joined together for the filming of 'Valkyrie'... Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. Note: Name was simply West Windsor-Plainsboro High School until being renamed West Windosor-Plainsboro High School South in 1997.
  5. Harvey, Shannon (January 3, 2013). "Reaching for the Stars". The West Australian. p. 52. Archived from the original on July 14, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  6. Pelan, Tim (March 12, 2014). "Christopher McQuarrie Gets Verbal On The Usual Suspects". Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  7. Stax (December 9, 2002). "Featured Filmmaker: Bryan Singer". IGN. Retrieved March 28, 2010.
  8. "Public Access". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  9. Reynolds, Simon (August 14, 2009). "McQuarrie tapped to write Wolverine 2". Digital Spy. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  10. "The Way of the Gun". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  11. The Way of the Gun critical reviews,; accessed August 28, 2014.
  12. "Christopher McQuarrie: Valkyrie". December 24, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2008..
  13. Bishop, Jackson (August 13, 2009). "Wolverine Sequel Uses Its Healing Factor and Hires Christopher McQuarrie". Collider. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  14. "The Tourist". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  15. "Scandal, flops and a very expensive private life: charting the steady decline of Johnny Depp". The Telegraph. May 25, 2017. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved July 31, 2019.
  16. Falk, Joshua (September 9, 2011). "Tom Cruise movie 'One Shot' confirmed for Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  17. Newman, Nick (July 11, 2012). "Drew Goddard Replaced Damon Lindelof on World War Z Rewrites; Christopher McQuarrie Possibly Coming Aboard". The Film Stage. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  18. Fleming Jr, Mike (June 21, 2013). "World War Z Helmer Marc Forster Reflects On Watching His Zombie Movie Get Fed Through The Gossip Woodchipper". Deadline. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  19. Jack the Giant Slayer box office receipts,; accessed August 28, 2014.
  20. Jack the Giant Slayer reviews,; accessed August 28, 2014.
  21. Chitwood, Adam (August 6, 2018). "Christopher McQuarrie on Whether He'll Return to Direct Mission: Impossible 7". Collider. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  22. McNary, Dave (February 1, 2019). "Tom Cruise 'Mission: Impossible' Movies Dated for Summers of 2021, 2022". Variety. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  23. Kroll, Justin (January 14, 2019). "Christopher McQuarrie Closes Deal to Direct Back-to-Back Mission: Impossible Films (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  24. Goldberg, Matt (January 18, 2016). "Star Wars: Rogue One: Christopher McQuarrie Brought In to "Save" Script". Collider. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  25. Setoodeh, Ramin; Lang, Brent (June 14, 2017). "Inside The Mummy's Troubles: Tom Cruise Had Excessive Control (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety Magazine. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  26. Fleming Jr., Mike (June 21, 2018). "Imagine Buys Zach Dean Pitch 'Canary' As Ron Howard Directing Vehicle". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  27. Goldberg, Matt (February 21, 2011). "Christopher McQuarrie to Write STAR BLAZERS Adaptation for Skydance Productions". Collider. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
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