Oscar Directors: Zemeckis, Robert (Forrest Gump)

Robert Zemeckis won the Oscar, Golden Globe, and a Director’s Guild of American Award for Best Director for the hugely successful Forrest Gump.

The film’s numerous honors also included Oscars for Best Actor (Tom Hanks) and Best Picture.

The Library of Congress recently selected the film to join the esteemed National Film Registry.

Zemeckis re-teamed with Hanks on the contemporary drama “Cast Away,” the filming of which was split into two sections, book-ending production on What Lies Beneath.  Zemeckis and Hanks served as producers on “Cast Away,” along with Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke.

Earlier in his career, Zemeckis co-wrote (with Bob Gale) and directed “Back to the Future,” which was the top-grossing release of 1985, and for which Zemeckis shared Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Screen play.  He then went on to helm “Back to the Future, Part II and Part III,” completing one of the most successful film franchises ever.

In addition, he directed and produced “Contact,” starring Jodie Foster, based on the best-selling novel by Carl Sagan; and the macabre comedy hit “Death Becomes Her,” starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis.  He also wrote and directed the box office smash “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” cleverly blending live action and animation; directed the romantic adventure hit “Romancing the Stone,” pairing Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner; and co-wrote (with Bob Gale) and directed the comedies “Used Cars” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”

Zemeckis also produced “House on Haunted Hill,” and executive produced such films as “The Frighteners,” “The Public Eye,” and “Trespass,” which he also co-wrote with Bob Gale.  He and Gale previously wrote “1941,” which began Zemeckis’ association with Steven Spielberg.

For the small screen, Zemeckis has directed several projects, including the Showtime feature-length documentary “The Pursuit of Happiness,” which explored the effect of drugs and alcohol on 20th century society.  His additional television credits include episodes of Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” and HBO’s “Tales From the Crypt.”

In 1998, Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke partnered to form the film and television production company ImageMovers.  “What Lies Beneath” was the first film to be released under the ImageMovers banner, followed by “Cast Away,” which opened to critical and audience acclaim in the Fall of 2000, and “Matchstick Men.”

In March 2001, the USC School of Cinema-Television celebrated the opening of the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts.  This state-of-the-art center is the country’s first and only fully digital training center and houses the latest in non-linear production and post-production equipment as well as stages, a 50-seat screening room and USC student-run television station, Trojan Vision.

In 2004, Zemeckis produced and directed the motion capture film “The Polar Express,” starring Tom Hanks. Most recently, he brought the true life story of “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson to the big screen.   In addition, he served as executive producer on both “Monster House,” and the Queen Latifah comedy “Last Holiday.”

Zemeckis produced and directed his second motion capture film, “Beowulf,” which was also be produced by Rapke and Starkey. The feature, which stars Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie and Ray Winstone is based on one of the oldest surviving pieces of Anglo-Saxon literature, written sometime   before the 10th Century A.D.

In November of 2009, Zemeckis released his most advanced motion-capture film to date: “A Christmas Carol,” based on the celebrated and beloved classic story by Charles Dickens.  Rapke and Starkey also produced the film, which was released by The Disney Studios in November 2009.

In 2012, he directed Denzel Washington (in an Oscar-winning performance) in the thriller-drama, Flight.