Jonathan Hensleigh

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Jonathan Hensleigh
Jonathan Blair Hensleigh

(1959-02-13) February 13, 1959 (age 65)
Alma materUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst (1981)
Tulane University Law School (J.D.)
Occupation(s)Writer, producer, director
(m. 1995)

Jonathan Blair Hensleigh (born February 13, 1959) is an American screenwriter and film director, working primarily in the action-adventure genre, best known for writing films such as Jumanji, Die Hard with a Vengeance, and Armageddon, as well as making his own directorial debut with the 2004 comic book action film The Punisher.

Early life[edit]

Hensleigh graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1981 with a degree in history.[1] He attended the University of Virginia School of Law, received his J.D. from Tulane University Law School, and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1985. Before moving into writing, he worked as an attorney for seven years.[2]

At the age of 31, Hensleigh began writing scripts and screenplays. He had previously written a novel and a three-act stage play but did not go to film school.[3]

Movie career[edit]

Hensleigh's start in the entertainment industry came writing episodes of the television series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. He received his first film credit in 1993's A Far Off Place, for which he wrote an early version of the script.[4] His next two projects were Die Hard with a Vengeance and Jumanji, both of which were released in 1995. The Die Hard sequel was based on a spec script Hensleigh had originally conceived as a Brandon Lee action film before the actor's death, with the working title Simon Says. The script was considered for the fourth installment of the Lethal Weapon series before being picked up for Die Hard.

Hensleigh participated in writing for The Rock, which became the subject of a dispute with the Writers Guild of America. In this case, the spec script (by David Weisberg and Douglas Cook) was reworked by several writers, but other than the original team, Mark Rosner was the only one granted official credit by guild arbitration. Despite their work on the script, neither Hensleigh nor Aaron Sorkin were credited in the film. The director Michael Bay wrote an open letter of protest, in which he criticized the arbitration procedure as a "sham" and a "travesty". He said Hensleigh had worked closely with him on the movie and should have received screen credit.[5]

Hensleigh worked with Bay again on the 1998 disaster film Armageddon, and officially received credit for the screenplay. He helped rewrite scripts for the Jerry Bruckheimer projects, Con Air (1997) and Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), receiving executive producer credit for those.

Hensleigh made his debut as a director with The Punisher in 2004, with the assistance of his wife, veteran Hollywood producer Gale Anne Hurd. He co-wrote the script with Michael France, based on the Marvel Comics character The Punisher. The film was shot on a tight schedule and with a relatively small budget.[6]

At one point, he was set to write and direct Hulk, working on pre-production of that film for a year before pulling out. Some unrealized projects Hensleigh has worked on include a Gemini Man film and sequels to Jumanji and The Punisher. As of October 3, 2008, Hensleigh was developing the series Red Mars, which is based on the novel of the same name for AMC.[7]

In 2011, Hensleigh wrote and directed Kill the Irishman, based on the book To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia, about the Cleveland mobster Danny Greene who was active in the 1960s and 1970s.[8]


Year Title Director Writer Notes
1992–1995 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles No Yes Television series (5 episodes)
1993 A Far Off Place No Yes
1995 Die Hard with a Vengeance No Yes
Jumanji No Yes
1997 The Saint No Yes
1998 Armageddon No Yes
2004 The Punisher Yes Yes Directorial debut
2007 Next No Yes
Welcome to the Jungle Yes Yes Also cinematographer; direct-to-video
2011 Kill the Irishman Yes Yes
2021 The Ice Road Yes Yes
TBA The Ice Road 2: Road to the Sky Yes Yes

Executive producer

Uncredited writing works


  1. ^ Carey, Mary. "True to their school". UMass Magazine, Winter 1999.
  2. ^ Wanser, Brooke (15 December 2016). "Distillery gives nod to Nevada with its vodka, whiskey". Las Vegas Review Journal. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  3. ^ Needles, Tim. "Director Jonathan Hensleigh and Ray Stevenson on Kill the Irishman". Short and Sweet NYC. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  4. ^ Marx, Andy. "Just Far Away: An Adventure in Adventureland", Los Angeles Times, July 19, 1992, p. 24.
  5. ^ Welkos, Robert W. "'Cable,' 'Rock' in Disputes on Writing Credits". Los Angeles Times, May 21, 1996, p. 1.
  6. ^ Olsen, Mark. "Just call him 'The Punisher'", Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2004, p. E8.
  7. ^ AMC Plans Mars Mission
  8. ^ "Ray Stevenson Is The Irishman", EmpireOnline

External links[edit]