Stephen Gaghan

Screenwriter, Director, Author
Having launched his career on television, screenwriter and director Stephen Gaghan wrestled with his personal demons to emerge as the Oscar-winning writer of the acclaimed sociopolitical crime epic, "Traffic" (2000) ... Read more »
Born: 05/06/1965 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA


Writer (11)

Syriana 2005 (Movie)

(Adaptation) (Screenplay)

Havoc 2004 (Movie)

(rewrite) (Screenplay)

The Alamo 2004 (Movie)


Abandon 2002 (Movie)


Rules of Engagement 2000 (Movie)


Traffic 2000 (Movie)


I Still Know What You Did Last Summer 1998 (Movie)


NYPD Blue 1995 - 1998 (Tv Show)


New York Undercover 1994 - 1998 (Tv Show)


The Practice 1995 - 1998 (Tv Show)

Story Editor

American Gothic 1995 - 1997 (Tv Show)

Story Editor
Actor (3)

Entourage 2007 (Tv Show)


Alfie 2004 (Movie)

Adam (Actor)

The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Director (3)

Gold 2016 (Movie)


Syriana 2005 (Movie)


Abandon 2002 (Movie)

Producer (1)

Sleepwalkers 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)



Having launched his career on television, screenwriter and director Stephen Gaghan wrestled with his personal demons to emerge as the Oscar-winning writer of the acclaimed sociopolitical crime epic, "Traffic" (2000). Before that, Gaghan had risen up the ranks as a staff writer on popular shows like "New York Undercover" (Fox, 1994-98), "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) and "The Practice" (ABC, 1997-2004), only to hit rock bottom with his heroin and crack addictions, which forced him to finally reach out and seek recovery. When he did, Gaghan shifted gears to features, starting with the military courtroom thriller "Rules of Engagement" (2000), before working with director Steven Soderbergh on the sprawling "Traffic," which became a critical darling and box office hit. From there, he became much in demand as a script doctor on numerous studio films while continuing to move on his own projects. Gaghan sat down in the director's chair for the first time with the little-known teen thriller "Abandon" (2002) before earning the dubious distinction of being credited as one of the screenwriters on "The Alamo" (2004), one of the biggest box office flops of all time. But he redeemed himself with his second directing effort, "Syriana" (2005), in which he again took a complex sociopolitical issue - Middle Eastern oil - and turned it into a complex, but personal drama that earned both critical praise and box office success. Gaghan's ability to weave labyrinth interlocking stories into highly-relatable entertainment made him one of the most sought-after and highly praised screenwriters of his day.


Tom Hague


Betty Hague


Gardner Gaghan

born c. April 2000

Michael McCraine

met during his recovery process from drug addiction


Kentucky Country Day School

Louisville , Kentucky 1983
Gaghan began his drug use while a student; was a member of the state's all-star soccer team; expelled from school on the last day of his senior year; later received his GED

attended business college in Massachusetts



Helmed the geopolitical thriller "Syriana," based on the real-life memoirs of CIA agent Robert Baer and starring George Clooney and Matt Damon; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay


Made feature directorial debut with "Abandon"; also scripted


Penned the screenplay for "Traffic", based on the British miniseries "Traffick"; as he told The New York Times (February 5, 2000), some aspects of the film were based on his own experiences as a drug addict; received Oscar for Best Adapted Screenpl


Feature film debut as screenwriter, "Rules of Engagement"


Served as co-producer on the extremely short-lived (two episode) run of the NBC series "Sleepwalkers"; also co-wrote episodes


With Michael R Perry, served as story editor and teleplay writer for the short-lived CBS series "American Gothic"


Settled in L.A.


Arrested on felony drug charges for possession of cocaine and heroin in October; later pleaded guilty to lesser charges of drug possession; sentenced to conditional discharge

Moved to NYC

Served as executive story editor and occasional writer on the ABC drama series "The Practice"; continued collaboration with Michael R Perry

Raised in Louisville, Kentucky

Was on writing staff of the ABC drama "NYPD Blue"; shared Emmy award for the "Where's Swaldo?" episode; Perry also contributed to award-winning script

While attending college in Massachusetts, began catalog company called Fallen Empire Inc; company eventually failed

Bonus Trivia


Gaghan had his short story, "The Year With No Winter", published in The Iowa Review in 1990.


On his upbringing in Louisville, Gaghan (who admits to having "an addictive personality"), told the Los Angeles Times (January 7, 2001): "It's a town where smoking cigarettes is jingoistic," he says, referring to the local tobacco industry. "It's a city that's all about booze, tobacco and horse racing. . . . "In Louisville, there are a lot of euphemisms. I remember when an aunt or an uncle would disappear for two weeks, we were told, they were 'taking the waters,' which I later learned meant they were drying out somewhere. It was a hard-drinking environment. In Kentucky, you learn how to drink bourbon."


Gaghan estimates that he had been arrested some 20 to 30 times for misdemeanor charges related to his addictions, including three D.U.I.'s.