Writer of Braveheart
American screenwriter, director and producer Randall Wallace is best known for writing the screenplay for the multiple Oscar winning film “Braveheart” (1995). He took home a Writers Guild of America Award as well as an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for his work. He stated, “Before I wrote the film I had never heard of William Wallace and his story seemed so romantic to me. I think he is an ancestor, I feel his blood in my veins. I can't prove it but then no one can disprove it.”
An aspiring minister, Wallace began his career as songwriter in Nashville before heading to Los Angeles in 1980, where he began writing novels and short stories. He wrote for television during the late 1980s and early 1990s and eventually moved on to films with “Braveheart.” Wallace made his directing debut with “The Man in the Iron Mask” (1998). He also directed and/or scripted “Pearl Harbor” (2001), “We Were Soldiers” (2002) and “Secretariat” (2010).
“If I'm making a film and I'm not loving everything about it, then I know I've got to change something until I do.” Randall Wallace
Childhood and Family:
Randall Wallace was born on July 28, 1949, in Jackson, Tennessee. He started writing stories when he was seven years old. Randall attended E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia, and became a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. After graduating, he studied Russian, religion, and literature at the Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. He earned his B.A. in 1971. Randall put himself through a graduate year of seminary by teaching martial arts.
Director of Secretariat
Randall Wallace was originally intended to become a songwriter or minister before turning his sight to filmmaking. As a collegian, he started his own record company to release his original songs, which were played on local radio stations throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. He joined a seminary after college before moving to Nashville to try to break the music industry. While waiting for a big break, a then aspiring songwriter operated an animal show at Opryland. However, Wallace only found little success in Nashville because he did not write the city's main genre, country music.
In 1980, Wallace left Nashville for Hollywood. Once in L.A., Wallace, who had taken various writing classes all through school, began writing short stories and novels. His early works, such as “Blood of the Lamb” and “Where Angels Watch,” gained positive reviews from critics, but suffered poor selling. Wallace, however, did not began working on television until he landed job at Stephen Cannell Productions.
Under the wing of leading television producer Stephen J. Cannell, Wallace wrote episodes of “Hunter” (1986), “Starman” (1986) and “Stingray” (1987) before serving as co-producer and story editor for the short lived crime/drama series “J.J. Starbuck” (NBC, 1987-1988), starring Dale Robertson as the title character. In 1988, he co-created and wrote the premier of the detective series “Sonny Spoon,” on which he also became series co-producer. In 1989, he wrote and co-produced a busted pilot, “Thunder Boat Row,” as well as wrote two episodes of the Emmy nominating mystery/thriller series “Unsub.” 1990 saw Wallace write the premiere of the CBS police drama “Broken Badges,” for which he also served as co-executive producer.
Wallace's first brush with fame arrived when he wrote the screenplay for “Braveheart,” an epic historical drama directed and starring by Mel Gibson. Released on May 24, 1995, the film grossed $75.6 million in the domestic market and about $134.8 million internationally for a total of over $210 million worldwide, surpassing its budget of $53 million. “Braveheart” received mostly positive reviews from critics, and won five out of ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, and Best Makeup, among other awards and nominations. Wallace picked up a Writers Guild of America Award as well as an Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his writing effort.
After the success, Wallace returned to television as story contributor for the Fox television film “Dark Angel” (1996), starring Eric Roberts, Ashley Crow and Linden Ashby and directed by Robert Iscove. Two years later, Wallace made his feature directorial debut with the remake “The Man in the Iron Mask,” which he also produced and scripted. Starring big names like Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gabriel Byrne and Gérard Depardieu, the historical action movie was a box office success, despite gaining a rather mixed to negative critical response. It grossed a total of $182,968,902 against a budget of $35 million.
In 2001, Wallace revisited the film business with “Pearl Harbor,” which he produced with Jerry Bruckheimer and wrote. The action/drama film, which featured a large ensemble cast, including Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin, Jon Voight, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Dan Aykroyd, Colm Feore, Mako, Tom Sizemore, Jaime King and Jennifer Garner, was panned by critics and was nominated for six Razzies in the categories of Worst Actor, Worst Director, Worst Picture, Worst Screen Couple, and Worst Screenplay, for Wallace. The film, however, managed to earn several Oscar nominations, including Best Sound Editing (won), Best Effects, Visual Effects, Best Music, Original Song, and Best Sound, and was a commercial success. “Pearl Harbor” grossed $200 million at the domestic box office and $450 million worldwide. It was ranked the sixth highest grossing picture of 2001.
In 2002, Wallace wrote, directed and produced the war movie “We Were Soldiers,” which dramatized the Battle of Ia Drang on November 14, 1965, the first major engagement of the United States Army in the Vietnam War, and is based on the book “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young” by Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and reporter Joseph L. Galloway. Starring Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Sam Elliott, Greg Kinnear, Chris Klein, Keri Russell and Barry Pepper, the film received mixed to moderately positive reviews, and scored $114,660,784 at the box office.
In 2005, Wallace wrote the TV special “Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope.” Three years later, he executive produced and narrated “Fight or Die” for the Discovery Channel and executive produced the documentary film “Blind Spot.” The same year, he also wrote several songs with singer/songwriter Richard Marx. The song “Flame In Your Fire” was featured on Marx's album, “Emotional Remains” (2008).
In 2010, Wallace returned to the director's chair for the biographical film “Secretariat,” which is based on the life of thoroughbred race horse Secretariat, winner of the Triple Crown in 1973, with the screenplay by Mike Rich. Starring Diane Lane as the owner of Secretariat, Penny Chenery, and John Malkovich as the trainer, Lucien Laurin, the film garnered mostly positive reviews from critics and opened at No.3 at the US box office. “ Wallace also wrote the songs “I Am Free,” “It's Not How Fast, It's Not How Far” and “It's Who You Are” for the film soundtrack. The same year, Wallace also appeared as himself in three episodes of HBO's “Entourage.”
Wallace has signed on to produce, write and direct the upcoming adventure film “Love and Honor.” He co-wrote the screenplay for the David Fincher forthcoming film “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo,” which is set to be released in the US in 2013.
Writers Guild of America (WGA): Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, “Braveheart,” 1996