Donnie Darko Wiki

Richard Kelly

James Richard Kelly (born March 28, 1975), better known

as Richard Kelly, is an American film director and writer, known for writing and directing the cult classic Donnie Darko in 2001.

Early Life[]

Kelly was born James Richard Kelly in Newport News, Virginia, the son of Lane and Ennis Kelly.[1] He grew up in Midlothian, Virginia, where he attended Midlothian High Schooland graduated in 1993.[2] When he was a child, his father worked for NASA on the Mars Viking Lander program. He won a scholarship to the University of Southern California to study at the USC School of Cinema-Television where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He made two short films at USC, The Goodbye Place and Visceral Matter, before graduating in 1997.[3]

Film Career[]

Donnie Darko was his first feature and was nominated for 21 small awards, winning 11 of them, including a nomination for a Saturn Award. The film later ended up #2 on Empiremagazine's list of 50 greatest independent films of all time, behind Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.[4]

He has written numerous scripts that have not been produced, most famous of which are the adaptations of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle and Louis Sachar's Holes. The latter screenplay is available as a PDF on an unofficial Richard Kelly fansite,[5] and Kelly hopes that he will one day secure the rights to the former, so that fans may read that one as well.[citation needed]

His fourth film, and second feature, Southland Tales, a rough cut of which screened in competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival,[6] was released November 16, 2007 and stars Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott, Kevin Smith and Miranda Richardson.

In 2008, Kelly's production company Darko Entertainment announced that it was producing the adaptation of the bestselling book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell with directorBob Gosse.[7][8] The book's author Tucker Max detailed Kelly's involvement in the process on his blog.[9][10]

After the release of The Box,[11] he said he was working on a thriller "set in Manhattan in the year 2014. We hope to shoot the movie in 3-D, and part of the movie would be filmed using full CGI motion capture."[12] In 2011 he announced that he was writing and directing Corpus Christi, a Texas-set film to be produced by Eli Roth.[13] It was reported thatCorpus Christi was no longer happening due to financial and casting problems. Kelly stated that he would instead focus on a thriller titled Amicus slated for a 2014 release, although as of April 2015, no further information on Amicus has been released.

Themes and Styles[]

Although Kelly's films differ considerably in setting and characters (Donnie Darko is about a suburban teenager, Southland Tales is an L.A. epic, and The Box is about a married couple in Richmond, Virginia), they share similar themes of time travel, existentialism, and spirituality.

Kelly's style is composed of Steadicam based tracking shots and camera movement in general, satirical elements (as seen sparsely in Donnie Darko and much more prominently in Southland Tales), comedy, drama, and enigmatic plots. Music also plays a large role in Kelly's films and one of his most famous scenes is in a closing segment of Donnie Darkowhere we are shown a montage of several characters awakening from their dreams to Gary Jules's version of the Tears for Fears song "Mad World".

Kelly's enthusiasm and direction can be traced back to his viewing of the film Brazil, as told to author Robert K. Elder in an interview for The Film That Changed My Life.[14]

I think the greatest thing I

learned from Terry is that every frame is worthy of attention to detail. Every frame is worthy of being frozen in time and then thrown on a wall like an oil painting, and if you work hard on every frame,

the meaning of your film becomes deeper, more enhanced.[15]


Year Film Other notes
1996 The Goodbye Place Short film
1997 Visceral Matter Short film
2001 Donnie Darko
2006 Southland Tales
2009 The Box Based on the short story by Richard Matheson
Year Film Other notes
1996 The Goodbye Place Short film
1997 Visceral Matter Short film
2001 Donnie Darko
2005 Domino
2006 Southland Tales
2009 The Box Based on the short story by Richard Matheson
Year Film Other notes
2009 Dirty Girl
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell Based on the Tucker Max short story "The Austin Road Trip Story" in his book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Rogue's Gallery
The Box
World's Greatest Dad
2010 Fade[16]

Based on the novel by Robert Cormier

Awards and Nominations[]


  • 2001 – Sundance Film Festival, Grand Jury Prize (Donnie Darko)
  • 2001 – Catalonian International Film Festival, Best Film (Donnie Darko)
  • 2002 – Online Film Critics Society Awards, OFCS Award (Donnie Darko)
  • 2002 – Independent Spirit Awards, Best First Feature (Donnie Darko)
  • 2002 – Independent Spirit Awards, Best First Screenplay (Donnie Darko)
  • 2002 – Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Most Promising Director
  • 2006 – Cannes Film Festival, Golden Palm (Southland Tales)[6]


  2. Jump up^ The New York Times
  3. Jump up^ Notable Alumni, USC School of Cinematic Arts.
  4. Jump up^ The 50 Greatest Independent Films, Empire Online
  5. Jump up^
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b "Festival de Cannes: Southland Tales". Retrieved 2009-12-13.
  7. Jump up^ Siegel, Tatiana (June 5, 2008). "Darko to serve Tucker Max's 'Beer'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
  8. Jump up^ Darko Entertainment Adapting I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
  9. Jump up^ "IHSTBIH Blog Entry: Darko to serve Tucker Max's Beer". June 6, 2008.
  10. Jump up^ Tucker Max shares his opinion of Darko Entertainment Richard Kelly's homepage
  11. Jump up^ "Video Interviews with the Director and Stars of 'The Box'". BloodyDisgusting. November 3, 2009.
  12. Jump up^ Eggertsen, Chris (November 3, 2009). "Richard Kelly Planning 3-D Thriller!". BloodyDisgusting.
  13. Jump up^ Zeitchik, Steven (2011-02-17). "Richard Kelly looks to cash in another comeback ticket". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
  14. Jump up^
  15. Jump up^ Kelly, Richard. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life. By Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p54. Print.
  16. Jump up^ Siegel, Tatiana (January 7, 2009). "Darko acquires invisibility tale 'Fade'". Variety. Archived from the original on November 12, 2009. Retrieved November 12, 2009.