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Mark Boal        

American Journalist, Producer, and Academy Award-Winning Screenwriter for "The Hurt Locker" and "Zero Dark Thirty"

Though primarily a long-form journalist, writer Mark Boal turned his weeks-long harrowing experience with the U.S. Army bomb squad in Iraq into the award-winning drama, The Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Born Jan. 23, 1973 in New York, NY, Boal became a noted reporter for publications like The Village Voice, Rolling Stone and Playboy, focusing his attention on world events. In 2004, Boal wrote the article "Death and Dishonor" for the latter magazine, which detailed the disappearance of Iraq War veteran, Specialist Richard Davis, whose father, retired Army Staff Sergeant Lanny Davis, went on a lone search to find out what happened. The article served as the inspiration for director Paul Haggis' moving drama, In the Valley of Elah, starring Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron and Susan Sarandon. Also that year, Boal spent several weeks embedded in the U.S. Army's bomb squad, which operated in a particularly dangerous part of Baghdad during the Iraq War. He followed an IED specialist who at the time had defused the most number of roadside bombs in the war. The result was a second article for Playboy, "The Man in the Bomb Suit" (2005), which detailed a profoundly eye-opening experience that Boal was determined to share through the power of film.

Even prior to his experiences in Iraq, Boal had become acquainted with director Kathryn Bigelow, who had long admired the journalist's work. Upon his return, he told Bigelow about the bomb squad, which she immediately thought could be a movie. Convinced by the director to write a script, Boal spent the next few years doing just that, while continuing to churn out quality reporting. In March 2007, he had "The Real Cost of War" published in Playboy, which covered the growing problem of how the government handled Iraq war veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Meanwhile, Boal and Bigelow began shopping The Hurt Locker, though they failed to convince a studio to back the film. Instead, they secured independent financing and shot the film in Jordan, which closely resembled neighboring Iraq. The result was an intense and deeply moving look at the Army's elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, led by a cheerfully reckless staff sergeant (Jeremy Renner), who risk their lives numerous times a day in order to save others. The Hurt Locker emerged from the 2008 Venice International Film Festival to become nearly unanimously praised by critics and an early Academy Award favorite in 2009. For his part, Boal earned several award nominations for Best Screenplay, including a Golden Globe, a Writer's Guild award and the Oscar.

Boal and director Bigelow teamed up again. He wrote the screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty, which was based on the US operation that found and killed Osama Bin Laden. The film was released in December 2012. For his work, Boal was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice award, a WGA award and a BAFTA award.

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