Award-winning screenwriter Steve Kloves was accustomed to penning critically acclaimed films with no box-office clout -- until, of course, he adapted Harry Potter. Born in 1960, Kloves grew up in Northern California. Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone inspired him to become a screenwriter, and he eventually dropped out of college to work in Los Angeles. By age 19, Kloves already had an original script circulating around Hollywood. It fell into the hands of producers at Paramount, who, after only one meeting with Kloves, hired him to write the World War II coming-of-age story Racing With the Moon (1984). Directed by Richard Benjamin and starring Sean Penn and Nicolas Cage, the film earned accolades for Kloves (then 23), but very little money. Undaunted, he went to work on his next project, the story of a down-on-their-luck piano duo titled The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989). Kloves insisted on directing the film himself, which delayed the project for several years. It eventually went into production under the auspices of Twentieth Century Fox with Jeff and Beau Bridges in the title roles and Michelle Pfeiffer as the female vocalist they hire to spice up their act. The Fabulous Baker Boys had little success at the box office, but positive word-of-mouth and four Academy Award nominations made it a hit on home video. Kloves' following film, Flesh and Bone (1993), was not as lucky: Critics praised Kloves' writing and directing, as well as performances by Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, James Caan, and Gwyneth Paltrow, but audiences basically ignored the picture.
After Flesh and Bone, Kloves decided to take a break from Hollywood. He had not written a word in four years when producer Scott Rudin sent him a copy of novelist Michael Chabon's Wonder Boys, a dark comedy about an eccentric writing professor trying to survive his school's literary festival while dealing with his mistress, his editor, and his most troubled student. Feeling a connection with the four main characters, Kloves jumped at the chance to adapt the novel, but declined Rudin's offer to let him direct the film. The responsibility fell into the capable hands of L.A. Confidential director Curtis Hanson, who cast Michael Douglas, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr., and Tobey Maguire in Wonder Boys' (2000) lead roles. The finished product -- which garnered Kloves both a Golden Globe nomination and an Oscar nod -- had a disastrous first run, but was so popular amongst critics that their faith in the film inspired Paramount to release it again months later. In the meantime, Warner Bros. sent Kloves a package of possible writing jobs. Unimpressed by what he saw, the writer flipped through the proposals quickly until the last one caught his eye -- an adaptation of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001). Kloves had not even heard of the immensely popular British children's novel, but he knew that it had immeasurable potential. Before he could even finish the highly anticipated script (which was directed by Chris Columbus), Warner Bros. hired him to write its sequels, Columbus' Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and Alfonso Cuarón's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004).