Paul Haggis

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Paul Haggis
Haggis in November 2013
Paul Edward Haggis

(1953-03-10) March 10, 1953 (age 71)[1]
  • Screenwriter
  • producer
  • director
Years active1975–present
Diane Christine Gettas
(m. 1977; div. 1994)
(m. 1997; div. 2016)

Paul Edward Haggis (born March 10, 1953) is a Canadian screenwriter, film producer, and director of film and television. He is best known as screenwriter and producer for consecutive Best Picture Oscar winners Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Crash (2005), the latter of which he also directed. Haggis also co-wrote the war film Flags of Our Fathers (2006) and the James Bond films Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). He is the creator of the television series Due South (1994–1999) and co-creator of Walker, Texas Ranger (1993–2001), among others. Haggis is a two-time Academy Award winner, two-time Emmy Award winner, and seven-time Gemini Award winner. He also assisted in the making of "We Are the World 25 for Haiti". In November 2022, he was found liable in a civil trial which alleged he raped publicist Haleigh Breest and he was required to pay $10 million in damages.[2]

Early life[edit]

Paul Edward Haggis was born in London, Ontario, the son of Mary Yvonne (née Metcalf) and Ted Haggis, a World War II veteran and Olympic sprinter in the 1948 Summer Olympics.[3] He was raised as a Catholic, attending Catholic school and facing confrontations with children from Ontario's Protestant majority.[4][5] His family had stopped going to Mass after finding their parish priest driving a Cadillac, and he considered himself an atheist by early adulthood.[4][5] The Gallery Theatre in London was owned by his parents, and Haggis gained experience in the field through work at the theatre.[6]

Haggis attended St. Thomas More Elementary School.[7] He started secondary school at Ridley College in St. Catharines, but began getting into bad behavior by skipping his required Royal Canadian Army Cadets drills, breaking into the prefect's office to erase his demerits, and reading the radical magazine Ramparts. After a year, Haggis's parents transferred him to a more progressive preparatory school in Muskoka Lakes. Haggis was taught by a producer of the CBC Radio One news program As It Happens, who allowed him to sit with him as he edited John Dean's testimony to the Watergate hearings for broadcast.[4]

After being inspired by Alfred Hitchcock and Jean-Luc Godard, Haggis proceeded to study art at H. B. Beal Secondary School.[1] He opened a theater in Toronto to screen films banned by the Ontario Board of Censors such as The Devils and Last Tango in Paris.[4] After viewing Michelangelo Antonioni's 1966 film Blowup in 1974, he traveled to England with the intent of becoming a fashion photographer.[1] Haggis later returned to Canada to pursue studies in cinematography at Fanshawe College.[1] While in London, Ontario, Haggis was converted to the Church of Scientology. In 1975, Haggis moved to Los Angeles, California, to begin a career in writing in the entertainment industry.[1][6]


Haggis began to work as a writer for television programs, including Dingbat and the Creeps, Richie Rich, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo, The Love Boat, One Day at a Time, Diff'rent Strokes, and The Facts of Life.[4][6][8] With The Facts of Life, Haggis also gained his first credit as producer.[6] During the 1980s and 1990s, Haggis wrote for television series including thirtysomething, The Tracey Ullman Show, FM, Due South, L.A. Law, and EZ Streets.[6] He helped to create the television series Walker, Texas Ranger; Family Law; and Due South.[6] Haggis served as executive producer of the series Michael Hayes and Family Law.[6] In 1999, he signed a first look deal with Columbia TriStar Television.[9]

Haggis at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival

He gained recognition in the film industry for his work on the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, which Allmovie described as a "serious milestone" for the writer/producer, and as "his first high-profile foray into feature film".[6] Haggis had read two stories written by Jerry Boyd, a boxing trainer who wrote under the name of F.X. Toole.[6]

Haggis later acquired the rights to the stories, and developed them into the screenplay for Million Dollar Baby. Clint Eastwood portrayed the lead character in the film.[6] Eastwood also directed the film, and used the screenplay written by Haggis.[6] Million Dollar Baby received four Academy Awards including the Academy Award for Best Picture.[6]

After Million Dollar Baby, Haggis worked on the 2004 film Crash.[6] Haggis came up with the story for the film on his own, and then wrote and directed the film, which allowed him greater control over his work.[6] Crash was his first experience as director of a major feature film.[6] Highly positive upon release, critical reception of Crash has since polarized, although Roger Ebert called it the best film of 2005.[6]

Crash received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director, in addition to four other Academy Award nominations.[6] Haggis received two Academy Awards for the film: Best Picture (as its producer), and Best Writing for his work on the screenplay.[6] With Million Dollar Baby and then Crash, Haggis became the first individual to have written Best Picture Oscar-winners in two consecutive years.[10]

Haggis said that he wrote Crash to "bust liberals", arguing that his fellow liberals were not honest with themselves about the nature of race and racism because they believed that most racial problems had already been resolved in American society.[11]

He has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Writer's Branch since 2005. This allows him to vote on the Academy Awards.[12]

In 2008, Haggis founded production company Hwy61 Films with producer Michael Nozik, and signed a deal to produce films for United Artists.[13] The company is named after the title track of Bob Dylan's 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Haggis lives in Santa Monica, California.[15] He has three daughters from his first marriage to Diana Gettas and one son from his second marriage to Deborah Rennard.[16] His younger sister, Jo Francis, is a film editor; they have worked together on several projects.[16][17]

In 2009, Haggis founded the non-profit organization Artists for Peace and Justice to assist impoverished youth in Haiti.[18][19] In an interview with Dan Rather, Haggis mentioned that he is an atheist.[20]

Break from Scientology[edit]

After maintaining active membership in the Church of Scientology for 35 years, Haggis left the organization in October 2009.[21][22][23][24] He was motivated to leave Scientology in reaction to statements made by the San Diego branch of the Church of Scientology in support of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative which banned same-sex marriage in California.[23]

Haggis wrote to Tommy Davis, the Church's spokesman, and requested that he denounce these statements; when Davis remained silent, Haggis responded that "Silence is consent, Tommy. I refuse to consent."[23][24][25] Haggis went on to list other grievances against Scientology, including its policy of disconnection, and the smearing of its ex-members through the leaking of their personal details.[23][24]

The Observer comments that: "The decision of [Jason] Beghe and Haggis to quit Scientology appears to have caused the movement its greatest recent PR difficulties, not least because of its dependence on Hollywood figures as both a source of revenue for its most expensive courses and an advertisement for the religion."[26]

In an interview with Movieline, Haggis was asked about similarities between his film The Next Three Days and his departure from the Scientology organization; Haggis responded, "I think one's life always parallels art and art parallels life."[27] In February 2011, The New Yorker published a 25,000-word story, "The Apostate", by Lawrence Wright, detailing Haggis's allegations about the Church of Scientology. The article ended by quoting Haggis: "I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't."[16] Haggis was interviewed as part of a group of ex-Scientologists for the 2015 movie Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.[28]

Sexual misconduct allegations[edit]

In 2017, Haleigh Breest filed a lawsuit against Paul Haggis regarding an alleged rape in 2013. Haggis denied all allegations and filed a countersuit, claiming Breest intended to bankrupt him by extracting a $9 million settlement. His suit was dismissed.[29]

In 2021, Haggis asked a judge to expedite his civil trial. He said he "cannot continue to pay his legal bills." Haggis requested the judge set a trial "at the earliest practical date." His lawyer, Seth Zuckerman, wrote in the motion that "the defendant is no longer in a position to finance his defence with this matter lingering in advance of trial."[30] Following the initial accusation, three additional women came forward with various accusations of sexual assault and misconduct.[31]

Fellow former Scientology members Leah Remini and Mike Rinder have defended him, suggesting that the Church of Scientology may be involved, an assertion both the accusers and the Church itself deny.[32]

On June 19, 2022, Haggis was arrested in Ostuni in southern Italy over allegations of sexual assault.[33][34] Local law enforcement charged him with aggravated sexual violence and aggravated personal injuries.[34] A judge of the local court of Brindisi overturned Haggis' house arrest on July 4. On July 29, a three judge panel of the District Court of Lecce unanimously dismissed the charges against Haggis.[35]

On November 10, 2022, a New York jury found Haggis liable for the rape of Breest in a civil suit and ordered him to pay her at least $7.5 million.[36] On November 14, the jury ordered Haggis to pay an additional $2.5 million in punitive damages.[37]



Year Title Director Writer Producer Ref.
1993 Red Hot Yes Yes No [38]
2004 Million Dollar Baby No Yes Yes [38][39]
Crash Yes Yes Yes [38][39]
2006 The Last Kiss No Yes No [38]
Flags of Our Fathers No Yes No [38]
Casino Royale No Yes No [38][39]
Letters from Iwo Jima No Story Executive
2007 In the Valley of Elah Yes Yes Yes [38]
2008 Quantum of Solace No Yes No [38]
2010 The Next Three Days Yes Yes No [40]
2013 Third Person Yes Yes No
2016 Gold No No Executive
2018 5B Yes No Yes Documentary film
Co-directed with Dan Krauss[41]


Year Title Director Writer Executive
Creator Notes Ref.
1987 The Return of the Shaggy Dog No Yes No No [38]
1987–1988 thirtysomething No Yes No No Also supervising producer
1990 City No No Yes Yes
1990–1991 You Take the Kids Yes Yes Yes Yes
1993–2001 Walker, Texas Ranger No No No Yes
1994–1999 Due South Yes Yes Yes Yes Also unit director [38]
1996–1997 EZ Streets Yes Yes Yes Yes
1997–1998 Michael Hayes No Yes Yes No Also developer
1999–2002 Family Law Yes Yes Yes Yes
2006 Entourage No No No No Cameo as himself
2007 The Black Donnellys Yes Yes Yes Yes
2015 Show Me a Hero Yes No Yes No Miniseries

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2011 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Co-writer

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1985 Humanitas Prize Children's Animation Category CBS Storybreak: "Zucchini" Nominated
1988 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Drama Series thirtysomething Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series: Business as Usual Won
Humanitas Prize 60 Minute Category Won
1989 Writers Guild of America Award Episodic Drama Nominated
1995 Gemini Award Best Dramatic Series Due South Won
Best TV Movie Due South: Pilot (#1.0) Won
Best Writing in a Dramatic Series Due South Won
Best Writing in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series Due South: Pilot (#1.0) Nominated
1996 Canada's Choice Award Due South Won
Best Dramatic Series Won
Best Writing in a Dramatic Series Due South: "Hawk and a Handsaw" Won
Due South: "The Gift of the Wheelman" Won
1997 Viewers for Quality Television Award Founder's Award EZ Streets Won
2001 Writers Guild of America Award Valentine Davies Award Contributions to industry Won
2005 Writers Guild of America Award Best Adapted Screenplay Million Dollar Baby Nominated[39]
American Screenwriters Association Discover Screenwriting Award Won
Academy Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Black Movie Award Outstanding Motion Picture Crash Won
Deauville American Film Festival Grand Special Prize Won
European Film Award Screen International Award Nominated
Hollywood Film Festival Directing work Breakthrough Directing Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Award Best Screenplay Crash Won
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Screenplay, Adapted Million Dollar Baby Nominated
San Diego Film Festival Discover Screenwriter Award Life's Work[42] Won
San Francisco International Film Festival Kanbar Award Screenwriting work Won
Satellite Award Best Screenplay, Adapted Million Dollar Baby Won
Outstanding Screenplay, Original Crash Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay, Original Won
USC Scripter Award USC Scripter Award Million Dollar Baby Won
Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay – Original Crash Won
2006 Writers Guild of America Award Best Original Screenplay Won[39]
Academy Awards Best Picture Won
Best Original Screenplay Won
Best Director Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Original Screenplay Won
Best Direction Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Screenplay Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Nominated[39]
Austin Film Critics Award Best Director Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Best Writer Won
Best Director Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Award Best Screenplay Won
David di Donatello Best Foreign Film Won
Edgar Award Best Motion Picture Screenplay Nominated
Humanitas Prize Feature Film Category Won
Independent Spirit Award Best First Feature Won
London Critics Circle Film Award Screenwriter of the Year Won
Director of the Year Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Award Best Breakthrough Filmmaker Won
Best Screenplay, Original Nominated
Producers Guild of America Award Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award Nominated
Robert Award Best American Film Nominated
Satellite Award Best Screenplay, Adapted Flags of Our Fathers Nominated
2007 Saturn Award Best Writing Casino Royale Nominated
Edgar Award Best Motion Picture Screenplay Nominated
BAFTA Awards Outstanding British Film Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Nominated
Venice Film Festival SIGNIS Award In the Valley of Elah Won
Golden Lion Nominated
Academy Awards Best Original Screenplay Letters from Iwo Jima Nominated
2008 David di Donatello Best Foreign Film In the Valley of Elah Nominated
2011 Zurich Film Festival A Tribute To... Award Lifetime Achievement Won
2015 Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing – Miniseries or Television Film Show Me a Hero Nominated[43]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Wells, Barry. "Paul Haggis wants to inspire London students". Alt London. Archived from the original on October 24, 2007. Retrieved September 13, 2006.
  • Forsythe, Coco (January 27, 2008). "Down In The Valley". FutureMovies.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Turner Classic Movies staff (2009). "Biography for Paul Haggis". Turner Classic Movies. Time Warner. Archived from the original on October 19, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
  2. ^ Queen, Jack (November 14, 2022). "Oscar-winner Paul Haggis must pay total of $10 million in civil rape case". Reuters. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  3. ^ Riggs, Thomas (2003). Contemporary Theatre Film & Television. Gale / Cengage Learning. p. 181. ISBN 0787663638.
  4. ^ a b c d e Wright, Lawrence (2013). Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9780307700667. OL 25424776M.
  5. ^ a b Clarke, Cath (January 6, 2011). "Paul Haggis: 'You have to question your beliefs'". Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Albertson, Cammila (2009). "Paul Haggis - Biography". Allmovie. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
  7. ^ Rumelski, Kathy (September 12, 2006). "London fans toast Haggis". Jam! Showbiz. Canoe Inc. Archived from the original on January 1, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2009.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ Brady, Tara. "Paul Haggis: "I do feel quite guilty sometimes . . . This is who we are. We're vampires"". The Irish Times. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  9. ^ Hontz, Jenny (February 11, 1999). "Haggis inks three-year, first-look deal with Col". Variety. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  10. ^ Salem, Rob (February 25, 2007). "Who needs Oscar? He has a mob: Nominee Paul Haggis returns to TV with new crime saga". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  11. ^ Buxton, Ryan (June 16, 2014). "Paul Haggis: I Wrote 'Crash' To 'Bust Liberals'". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  12. ^ Chang, Justin (June 27, 2005). "Acad extends invites to 112". Variety. Retrieved November 12, 2020.
  13. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (January 30, 2008). "Haggis, Nozik take Hwy61 to UA". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  14. ^ Mayberry, Carly (January 30, 2008). "Haggis takes Hwy61 to United Artists". Reuters. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  15. ^ Whipp, Glenn (May 8, 2005). "The 'Crash' of '05 - Paul Haggis explores intolerance and isolation in modern L.A." Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
  16. ^ a b c Wright, Lawrence (February 12, 2011). "The Apostate". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  17. ^ Blake, Lisa (November 17, 2010). "From Ontario to Oscar". AARP. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  18. ^ Tang, Syl (February 17, 2014). "Paul Haggis Receives Millions From Bovet Watches for Haiti Help". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  19. ^ Dekel, Jon (September 24, 2012). "Paul Haggis' quest for Peace and Justice in Haiti". Retrieved March 30, 2015.
  20. ^ "Intimate interview with Paul Haggis". YouTube. Archived from the original on January 24, 2016. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  21. ^ Irish Independent staff (January 26, 2008). "The silence of Cruise's 'sinister' Cult". Irish Independent.
  22. ^ Goodstein, Laurie (March 7, 2010). "Breaking With Scientology". The New York Times. p. A1.
  23. ^ a b c d Brooks, Xan (October 26, 2009). "Film-maker Paul Haggis quits Scientology over gay rights stance". The Guardian. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  24. ^ a b c Ortega, Tony (October 25, 2009). "'Crash' Director Paul Haggis Ditches Scientology". Runnin' Scared. The Village Voice. Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  25. ^ Moore, Matthew (October 26, 2009). "Crash director Paul Haggis quits Church of Scientology over gay marriage opposition". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on January 12, 2022. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  26. ^ Beaumont, Peter; Toni O'Loughlin; Paul Harris (November 22, 2009). "Celebrities lead charge against Scientology: Hollywood figures quit 'rip-off' church as Australian prime minister threatens parliamentary inquiry into its activities". The Observer. The Guardian. Retrieved November 22, 2009.
  27. ^ Ryan, Mike (November 15, 2010). "Paul Haggis on The Next Three Days, Scientology and Why He's OK With You Hating Crash". Movieline. Movieline LLC. Archived from the original on November 18, 2010. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  28. ^ Pritchard, Tiffany (February 4, 2015). "Alex Gibney, Going Clear: Scientology And The Prison Of Belief". Screen Daily.
  29. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (June 19, 2022). "Paul Haggis Arrested in Italy on Sexual Assault Charges". Variety. Archived from the original on June 22, 2022. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  30. ^ Cullins, Ashley (January 5, 2018). "Four Women Accuse Paul Haggis of Sexual Misconduct, Including Two Rapes". The Hollywood Reporter. Associated Press. Retrieved January 6, 2018.
  31. ^ Maddaus, Gene (December 27, 2019). "Paul Haggis Loses Appeal, as Court Finds Rape Is a Hate Crime". Variety. Retrieved March 9, 2020.
  32. ^ Nyren, Erin (January 18, 2018). "Leah Remini Defends Paul Haggis, Suggests Scientology May Be Behind Misconduct Claims". Variety. Archived from the original on March 21, 2022. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
  33. ^ Hellmore, Edward (June 19, 2022). "Film-maker Paul Haggis arrested over sexual assault allegations in Italy". The Guardian.
  34. ^ a b Bubola, Emma; Bahr, Sarah (June 19, 2022). "Paul Haggis Arrested on Sexual Assault Charges in Italy". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 22, 2022. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  35. ^ Vivarelli, Nick (July 30, 2022). "Paul Haggis Sexual Assault Case Dismissed by Italian Court". Variety. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  36. ^ Jacobs, Julia (November 10, 2022). "Jury Says Paul Haggis Raped Woman After Film Premiere". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2022.
  37. ^ Piccoli, Sean; Pederson, Erik (November 14, 2022). "Paul Haggis Civil Trial: Jury Awards $2.5M In Punitive Damages; Oscar Winner Says He Will Appeal & "Die Trying To Clear My Name" – Update". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 14, 2022. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Turner Classic Movies staff (2009). "Filmography for Paul Haggis". Turner Classic Movies. Time Warner. Archived from the original on October 19, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
  39. ^ a b c d e f Allmovie staff (2009). "Paul Haggis - Awards". Allmovie. Macrovision Corporation. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
  40. ^ Bodey, Michael (March 24, 2010). "Indian extravaganza a juicy win for rival capitals of film". The Australian. Retrieved March 23, 2010.
  41. ^ Rooney, David (May 18, 2019). "'5B': Film Review | Cannes 2019". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  42. ^ "san diego film festival 2007: award winners". July 3, 2007. Archived from the original on July 3, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  43. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 6, 2016). "2016 DGA Awards: The Complete Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2016.

External links[edit]