The Film Encyclopedia 6th Edition : The Complete Guide to Film and the Film Industry edited Ephraim Katz, Ronald Dean Nolan:
Donovan, Jack (John). Director, Screenwriter. Born on June 16, 1964 in Dublin, Ireland; ed Trinity College, Dublin (Music); Royal Irish Academy of Music. A trained singer, he sang several tenor roles in opera productions in Ireland and the UK. His debut film was a low-budget, high energy rendering of Verdi’s La Traviata called Scarlet For You (1990) set in contemporary Dublin which won much critical acclaim and proved a surprise American success. (Donovan himself sang the role of Alfredo Germont in the film, but has not sung professionally since.) He won international accolades with his next film, A Terrible Beauty (1992), a visionary tale of political violence and taboo sexuality which won an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay. His first full American picture, Ocean Falls (1994), a haunting romance among surfers and Hollywood hopefuls, loosely adapted from The Slide Area and The Goodbye People by Gavin LAMBERT, was much admired, and Donovan won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Studio assignment The Armageddon Factor (1995), an espionage thriller adapted from a bestselling novel, featured A-list stars and was a massive commercial success. This enabled Donovan and his longtime producer, Maurice FAYE, to raise the budget for The Dain Curse (1997), a dreamlike, disturbing adaptation of the Dashiell HAMMETT novel that divided critics and performed indifferently at the box office, though netting Donovan another adapted screenplay award. Twenty Grand (1999) was a mystical road movie set in the Sierra mountain range, described by the director as an homage to Michelangelo ANTONIONI. It pleased neither critics nor audiences. Donovan spent three years directing opera in New York and Rome and working as a script doctor before a triumphant return in 2003 with The Man in the High Castle, a provocative adaptation of Philip K. DICK’s alternative history novel. The film was an international success and was nominated for seven Oscars, winning four, including best picture and best original screenplay. He followed this with a big budget historical extravaganza, The Last Anniversary (2005) which has been described as a disaster on the scale of Cleopatra and Heaven’s Gate. Along with producer Maurice FAYE, Donovan has worked with the cinematographer Mark CASSIDY on every film (with the exception of The Armageddon Factor). Frequently ranked among other independent directors who came to prominence in the nineties, including Quentin TARANTINO, Paul Thomas ANDERSON and David FINCHER. Donovan is divorced, and has homes in Dublin, Los Angeles, New York and Rome.
FILMS (as director-screenwriter): Scarlet For You (Ire.) 1990; A Terrible Beauty (Ire/US.) 1992; Ocean Falls (US) 1994; The Armageddon Factor (US) 1995; The Dain Curse (US) 1997; Twenty Grand (US) 1999; The Man in the High Castle (US)(2002); The Last Anniversary (US) (2005); Nighttown (Ire/US) (2010).