About Sam Raimi
Born on October 23, 1959 in Royal Oak, MI, Raimi began making film shorts as a child after his father gave him an 8mm camera. Around this time, Raimi became friends with future "Evil Dead" star Bruce Campbell, with whom the director made his shorts while in junior high school. He later attended Michigan State University, where Raimi founded the Society of Creative Filmmaking with brother Ivan, who later co-scripted "Darkman" (1990) and "Army of Darkness" (1993), and actor Robert Tapert, who has produced all Raimi's features to date. He left school to form Renaissance Pictures with Tapert and Campbell. The three went on to make, "Within the Woods" (1978), a 32-minute featurette that helped raise the initial investment of $50,000 for their first feature-length film, "The Evil Dead," a campy horror flick that focused on five twenty-something friends holed up in an isolated cabin in the woods where they discover a Book of the Dead and an audio tape of ancient incantations that when unwittingly played unleashes once-dormant demons.
Though made in 1979, Raimi waited until the 1983 Cannes Film Festival to gain exposure for "The Evil Dead," which went on to become an international cult favorite. He delivered an even bloodier and more hilariously cartoonish sequel, "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn" (1987), a retelling of the original film that was stylized by camera pyrotechnics, slapstick comedy and gruesome surrealism. Raimi took his first stab mainstream filmmaking with "Darkman" (1990), a stylish, witty transposition of the comic-book aesthetic to the screen that also paid satiric tribute to the Universal horror features of the 1930s. "Darkman" was a success at the box-office and introduced a wider audience to the director's work. Raimi soon found international success on syndicated television with "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (1994-2000) and "Xena: Princess Warrior" (1995-2001) while executive producing "American Gothic" (CBS, 1995-96), a critically acclaimed cult favorite that failed to make it in the ratings. Similar fates awaited his subsequent series "Spy Game" (ABC, 1996-97), "Young Hercules" (Fox, 1998-99) "Jack of All Trades" (Syndicated, 1999-2001) and "Cleopatra 2525" (Syndicated, 1999-2001).
Back on the big screen, he oversaw the US debut of Hong Kong action filmmaker John Woo as executive producer on the Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle "Hard Target" (1993). Raimi graduated to big-budget filmmaking-$30 million-and "A-list" stars (Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Leonardo DiCaprio) as a hired gun on the stylish, but ultimately disappointing Western "The Quick and the Dead" (1995). Raimi took a three-year hiatus from the director's chair, returning in 1998 with the more subdued crime thriller "A Simple Plan" (1998), mixing his trademark humor with more detailed characterizations in a taught tale of three small town men (Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton and Brent Brisc ) who scheme to keep the cache of cash they discover in a plane crash. The result was not to everyone's taste but marked a significant step in his development as a director. Raimi continued with the big-budgeted, baseball-themed Kevin Costner vehicle "For the Love of the Game" (1999). Then in 2000 he delivered "The Gift," a satisfying, knotty thriller starring Cate Blanchett as a small town Southern medium whose debated psychic ability embroils her in a mysterious murder.
While he had earned a loyal core of followers, it would be in 2002 that Raimi's reputation as a director would reach its most dazzling-and widely popular-heights when he signed on to helm the big screen adaptation of the enduring Marvel Comics superhero "Spider-Man." A lifelong fan of the comic, Raimi was an excellent choice to adapt the web-slinging hero's adventures to the screen, especially since he understood the key to Spider-Man's appeal was not his powers or his costume, but the fact that he was an insecure, unpopular, vulnerable young man with everyday troubles. Raimi assembled a well-chosen cast, bypassing conventional star power to pick a buffed-up Tobey Maguire to play Peter Parker and rising star Kirsten Dunst as his love interest, Mary Jane. The resulting film was a pop culture sensation, becoming one of the all-time reigning box office champions and launching a resurgent popularity in films adapted from comic books, especially the previously untapped Marvel characters. Many critics and fans hailed the 2004 sequel "Spider-Man 2" as superior to the original, which built upon the star-crossed love story between Peter and Mary Jane, and adding an even more dimensional and charismatic villain with Alfred Molina as Dr. Octopus.
Fans of the franchise anxiously awaited the third installment, "Spider-Man 3" (2007), which depicted Peter Parker (Maguire) struggling with his dark, vengeful side when his famed red-and-blue suit suddenly starts turning black, giving him new, unparalleled powers that bring out his inner demons. Meanwhile, he battles two of the most-feared villains that he has ever encountered, Sandman (Thomas Hayden Church) and Venom (Topher Grace), both of whom gather their power in a quest for retribution that threatens Peter and everyone he loves. "Spider-Man 3" was expected to be the final outing for Raimi, Maguire and Dunst. Raimi, who kept a hand in horror by producing the hit films "The Grudge" (2004) and "Boogeyman" (2005), next signed on to direct "The Wee Free Men," a children's fantasy about a nine-year-old girl who enters a parallel world to save her brother from a nasty fairy queen.
Throughout his career, Raimi developed into an increasingly active character player, often in projects made by his compatriots, including John Landis' "Spies Like Us" (1985), the C ns' "Miller's Crossing" (1990) and Mike Bender's "Indian Summer" (1993). The latter won him some positive notices for playing the assistant of camp director Alan Arkin in this nostalgic character-driven comedy. On television, he may have been most widely seen in a supporting role as a hapless lackey of a diabolical Jamey Sheridan in the popular miniseries "Stephen King's 'The Stand'" (ABC, 1994). He also helped advance the acting career of his look-alike younger brother Ted, who played the recurring nimrod Joxer on "Xena" and appeared in the "Evil Dead" and "Spider-Man" films.
|Gillian Greene. Daughter of actor Lorne Greene; married c. 1992|
|Lisa Henson. No longer together; president of Columbia Pictures|
|Wylie E. Groves High School, Beverly Hills , Michigan|
|Michigan State University, East Lansing , Michigan|
|Met future collaborators Bruce Campbell, Scott Spiegel, and John Cameron in junior high school|
|Received 8mm movie camera from father as a child; made numerous amateur short films|
|Co-wrote and directed short film "Within the Woods" with Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell|
|Founded Michigan State University Society for Creative Filmmaking|
|Co-founded Renaissance Motion Pictures with Tapert and Campbell|
|Wrote and directed first feature, "The Evil Dead" (released in 1983)|
|Made minor appearance in "Spies Like Us"|
|Feature producing debut, executive produced sequel "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn"; also directed and co-scripted with Scott Spiegel|
|Served as executive producer on direct-to-video "Easy Wheels"; also reportedly co-wrote screenplay under a pseudonym|
|Directed first studio film "Darkman"; also co-scripted with brother Ivan Raimi|
|Executive produced Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle "Hard Target," the U.S. debut of celebrated Hong Kong director John Woo|
|Made TV movie acting debut in "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (NBC)|
|Played the flunky of camp director Alan Arkin in Mike Binder's "Indian Summer"|
|Created short-lived Fox series "M.A.N.T.I.S."|
|Executive produced syndicated TV movie "Hercules and the Amazon Women"|
|Made miniseries acting debut in Stephen King's "The Stand" (ABC)|
|Re-teamed with Van Damme to produce "Timecop"|
|Executive produced cultish supernatural drama "American Gothic"|
|Executive produced direct-to-video sequels "Darkman II: The Return of Durant" and "Darkman III: Die Darkman Die"|
|Executive produced hugely successful syndicated spin-off series "Xena: Warrior Princess"|
|Executive produced syndicated fantasy series "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys"|
|First film as director for script he did not write, the Western "The Quick and the Dead"|
|Returned to features as director of "A Simple Plan"|
|Directed Kevin Costner vehicle in baseball-themed "For the Love of the Game"|
|Helmed thriller "The Gift" with Cate Blanchett playing a psychic who becomes embroiled in a local murder|
|Directed feature version of Marvel comic "Spider-Man," starring Tobey Maguire in title role|
|Returned to direct second installment "Spider-Man 2," again starring Maguire|
|Directed Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco in third installment "Spider-Man 3"|
|Returned to directing horror with "Drag Me to Hell"|
|Executive produced Starz series "Spartacus" and 2011 mini-series "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena"|
|Helmed fantasy adventure "Oz the Great and Powerful," starring James Franco in title role|