Paul Schrader

Birthday: Jul 22, 1946
Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Raised in a strict religious household in Michigan, writer/director Paul Schrader studied theology at Calvin College and didn't see a movie until he was in his late teens. His stern background would fuel many of the themes throughout his career: downbeat stories of characters who violently break down in oppressive situations. Transfixed by the cinema and encouraged by critic Pauline Kael, he moved to Los Angeles and became a film scholar at U.C.L.A. He wrote movie reviews for newspapers, edited the magazine Cinema, and wrote the highly influential critical essay "The Trancendental Style: Ozu, Bresson, Dryer." After a period of heavy drinking and serious depression, he sold his first screenplay, The Yakuza, a Japanese thriller co-written with his brother, Leonard, and Robert Towne. The next year, Schrader wrote Taxi Driver, the grim tale of urban alienation. Taxi Driver started his successful collaborative relationship with director Martin Scorsese, another so-called "film school brat" who was also raised in a religious household. After writing the screenplays for Obsession and Rolling Thunder, Schrader made his directorial debut with Blue Collar in 1978, a forceful exposé about auto workers. The following year he directed Hardcore, a poorly received but shocking account of a Midwestern girl escaping her family for a porno career in L.A. He would continue to explore the seedy underbelly of the sex industry in American Gigolo, a glossier look at another troubled hero that gained Schrader some attention. He teamed up with Scorsese for the second time with the emotionally brutal Raging Bull, one of the most acclaimed American films of the '80s, and a good example of Schrader's reoccurring destructive male protagonists suffering from violent desperation. This high point in his career was followed by a sporadic period during which he returned to evocative sexual themes with the remake of Cat People and won a Cannes prize for Mishima. Never ceasing to address controversial subject matter, he scripted The Last Temptation of Christ in his third collaboration with Scorsese, and then went on to write Patty Hearst, based upon the real-life terrorist-kidnapping plot. Light Sleeper, which he wrote and directed in 1992, can be thought of as the last entry in a trilogy of films -- together with Taxi Driver and American Gigolo -- investigating self-destructive urban loners driven to near madness. For many of his other directorial projects in the '90s, Schrader turned to literature adaptations. The Comfort of Strangers was based upon the Ian McEwan novel , Touch, on an Elmore Leonard novel, and Affliction, on a Russell Banks novel. The latter enjoyed critical success for Schrader's abilities, in addition to a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for James Coburn. Unfortunately, the writer's fourth pairing with Scorsese for Bringing out the Dead did not do as well as hoped, compared with their triumphs in the past. After writing and directing Forever Mine, which debuted on cable, Schrader switched gears and worked only as a director for Auto Focus in 2002. This dark biopic of television star Bob Crane combines his frequent themes of sexual discrepancies and inevitable breakdowns. Shortly thereafter Schrader was tapped to direct Exorcist: The Beginning, though he was fired during production and director Renny Harlin was brought in by the studio to complete the film. Most of Schrader's footage wasn't used in the final cut, but after The Beginning flopped, the studio reinstated the unused footage and re-released the film as Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. The political crime drama The Walker followed in 2007, and the following year Schrader adapted Yoram Kaniuck's celebrated 1971 novel Adam Resurrected, which told the unusual tale of a Jewish entertainer who survives being placed in a concentration camp by becoming the commandant's personal "dog," and later befriends a young boy who has spent his entire youth locked in a basement and chained to a wall.

Highest Rated Movies



93% First Reformed Screenwriter Director 2018
93% What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael Actor 2018
50% Dog Eat Dog Director Grecco the Greek 2016
96% Hitchcock/Truffaut Actor $0.4M 2015
9% Dying of the Light Screenwriter 2014
22% The Canyons Director $31.8K 2013
No Score Yet The Jesuit Director 2012
No Score Yet Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do That Actor 2012
88% Eames: The Architect And The Painter Actor $0.2M 2011
80% The Story Of Film: An Odyssey Actor 2011
75% Tales From the Script Actor 2010
35% Adam Resurrected Director 2008
52% The Walker Screenwriter Director $43.7K 2007
30% Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist Director Screenwriter 2005
100% Easy Riders---Raging Bulls Actor 2003
77% A Decade Under the Influence Actor 2003
72% Auto Focus Director $1.9M 2002
72% Bringing Out the Dead Screenwriter 1999
29% Forever Mine Director Screenwriter 1999
88% Affliction Director Screenwriter 1997
33% Touch Screenwriter Director 1997
50% Comfort of Strangers Director 1997
54% City Hall Screenwriter 1996
No Score Yet Witch Hunt Director 1994
87% Light Sleeper Director Screenwriter 1992
28% Havana Screenwriter 1990
No Score Yet Hollywood Mavericks Actor 1990
50% Patty Hearst Screenwriter Director 1988
80% The Last Temptation of Christ Screenwriter 1988
53% Light of Day Screenwriter Director 1987
76% The Mosquito Coast Screenwriter 1986
89% Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters Screenwriter Director 1985
No Score Yet The Road to Bresson (De weg naar Bresson) Actor 1984
62% Cat People Director Screenwriter 1982
95% Raging Bull Screenwriter 1980
67% American Gigolo Screenwriter Actor Director 1980
86% Hardcore Director Screenwriter 1979
No Score Yet Old Boyfriends Executive Producer Screenwriter 1979
100% Blue Collar Director Screenwriter 1978
86% Rolling Thunder Screenwriter 1977
80% Obsession Screenwriter 1976
98% Taxi Driver Screenwriter 1976
57% The Yakuza Screenwriter 1975


No Score Yet Close Up With the Hollywood Reporter
  • 2019
No Score Yet Late Night With Seth Meyers
  • 2019
No Score Yet Last Call With Carson Daly
  • 2016
No Score Yet American Masters


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