Full Biography of James Francis Gunn Jr.
Born August 5, 1966 (age 51)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Education Loyola Marymount University
Saint Louis University (BA)
Columbia University (MFA)
Occupation Screenwriter, director, producer, novelist, actor, musician
Years active 1995–present
Spouse(s) Jenna Fischer (m. 2000; div. 2008)
Sean Gunn (brother)
Matt Gunn (brother)
Brian Gunn (brother)
Mark Gunn (paternal cousin)
Who is James Gunn?
James Francis Gunn Jr. (born August 5, 1966) is an American filmmaker, actor, novelist, and musician. He started his career as a screenwriter in the mid-1990s, writing the scripts for Tromeo and Juliet (1996), The Specials (2000), Scooby-Doo (2002) and its sequel, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004), and the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead.
He then started working as a director, starting with the horror-comedy film Slither (2006). He subsequently wrote and directed the web series James Gunn’s PG Porn (2008–2009), the superhero film Super (2010), and the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and its sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017).
James Gunn Early life
Gunn was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He was raised between St. Louis and Manchester, Missouri. His brothers are actor Sean, actor and political writer Matt, screenwriter Brian, and former Executive Vice President with Artisan Entertainment Patrick. He also has a sister named Beth.
Their parents are Leota and James F. Gunn, an attorney. Gunn states his surname is derived from the Irish name MacGilGunn, meaning “sons to the servants of the god of the dead”.
Growing up, Gunn was influenced by low-budget films such as Night of the Living Dead and Friday the 13th. He read magazines like Fangoria and attended genre movie screenings, including the original Dawn of the Dead at the Tivoli Theatre in St. Louis. At the age of 12, he began making 8 mm zombie films with his brothers in the woods near their home.
Gunn and his brothers all attended the Jesuit St. Louis University High School, where he graduated in 1984. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from Saint Louis University. While at Saint Louis University, Gunn created political cartoons for the school’s student weekly, The University News.
Gunn said that, at an unspecified time in his college education, “I went to two years undergraduate film school at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles. But I was pretty screwed up at the time, and had to leave.
Years later I went to graduate school at the Columbia University School of Fine Arts but I studied prose writing, not film writing.”He earned a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University in 1995.
While living in St. Louis, Gunn started a band, The Icons, in 1989, serving as lead vocalist. The group released the album Mom, We Like It Here on Earth in 1994, and its songs “Sunday” and “Walking Naked” were featured in the film romeo and Juliet. The Icons disbanded in the mid-1990s. Gunn has continued to work in music, composing songs for Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, and Movie 43.
James Gunn Controversial tweets and firing from Disney
In July 2018, in reaction to Gunn’s public criticisms of Donald Trump, theorist Mike Cernovich drew attention to tweets by Gunn written between 2008 and 2009 about provocative topics like rape and pedophilia.
Gunn had previously expressed regrets and publicly apologized for old jokes in 2012. Amid criticism of the tweets, Disney severed ties with Gunn. He was fired as director of the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 film; he was also dismissed from a role to help lead Marvel’s planned “Cosmic Universe”.
Gunn responded: “I have regretted [those jokes] for many years since. Regardless of how much time has passed, I understand and accept the business decisions taken today.
Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now [is offer] my sincere and heartfelt regret..To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies.
Disney’s decision received criticism from several entertainers and journalists, including actors Dave Bautista, Selma Blair, Patton Oswalt, David Dastmalchian, Michael Ian Black, and Mikaela Hoover, directors Joe Carnahan and Fede Alvarez, comics artist Jim Starlin, musician Rhett Miller, Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland, journalists David A. French and Cenk Uygur, and Troma Entertainment founder and president Lloyd Kaufman.
Actor Bobcat Goldthwait responded to Gunn’s firing by asking Disney to remove his voice from an upcoming Hercules park attraction.
James Gunn Personal life
Gunn married actress Jenna Fischer on October 7, 2000, in an event that Gunn’s hometown paper said was officiated by Lloyd Kaufman, but which Gunn later clarified had not been: “They said I was married by Lloyd Kaufman, which is not true. He was at my wedding and he gave a speech.”
Gunn and Fischer had originally met in the St. Louis area through Gunn’s brother Sean, who had acted in plays alongside Fischer in high school. After seven years of marriage, Gunn and Fischer announced their separation in a joint statement on September 5, 2007, divorcing in 2008.
In 2010, Fischer persuaded Gunn to cast Rainn Wilson, her co-star on The Office, in Gunn’s film Super.
Gunn was raised in a Roman Catholic family and has mentioned how prayer continues to play an important role in his life, but has also said that he is “in some ways, anti-religion”. Gunn explained his views in detail in 2016:
“My personal take is that there is a role for spirituality in some people’s lives and I think that a belief in God can be a good thing for a great amount of people.. I do not like any sort of faith or religion that is based on exclusivity, meaning any sort of religion that says you’re damned to hell or you’re not going to be saved because you don’t believe the same thing I do.
I believe faith and spiritual belief is a very, very personal thing and if I started applying what I believe to everybody else it would be unfair to everybody’s individuality and I really hate that.
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