John Lee Hancock
December 15, 1956
Longview, Texas, United States
Screenwriter, Director, Assistant director, Location scout, Production coordinator, Freelance writer
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The "feel good movie" may never have had a bigger proponent than John Lee Hancock. As a writer, director, and producer of high profile feature films, Hancock introduced his earnest and often sentimental sensibilities to sports movies like "The Rookie" (2002) and "The Blind Side" (2009), show business pictures like "Saving Mr. Banks" (2013), and the occasional fairy tale jaunt, including "Maleficent" (2014). Achieving big numbers at the box office and awards recognition in the process, Hancock established himself over the course of his decades in the filmmaking game as a reliable perpetrator of crowd-pleasing entertainment. Although intermittent attempts at darker and more severe material proved substantially less fortuitous, Hancock powered through these missteps to become a veritable fixture in the family-directed film community.John Lee Hancock Jr. was born in Longview, Texas on December 15, 1956, and grew up in a "football family" that included father John Lee Hancock Sr., a letterman for Baylor University in the early 1950s, brother Joe who played center at Vanderbilt University, and brother Kevin who played professionally as linebacker for the Chicago Bears between 1981 and 1984. Like his father, John Lee Hancock attended Baylor University, graduating with an English degree in 1979. He continued his academic career at Baylor Law School, graduating with a law degree in 1982.Hancock's first job in filmmaking came as a production assistant on the little seen horror comedy "My Demon Lover" (1987), and he wouldn't enter the business wholeheartedly until after the turn of the decade. For his second project, however, Hancock leaped immediately to writing and directing. He helmed the screwball rom-com "Hard Time Romance" (1991), starring Leon Rippy, Tom Everett, and Mariska Hargitay in principal roles.For the duration of the decade to follow "Hard Time Romance," Hancock would focus his energies primarily on screenwriting. Throughout the 1990s, Hancock penned two more feature film scripts, both for director Clint Eastwood. The first was "A Perfect World" (1993), a crime thriller costarring Eastwood alongside Kevin Costner and Laura Dern. The second was "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1997), a mystery film starring Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.Following his collaborations with Eastwood, Hancock attempted a career in small screen production. He created the medical drama "L.A. Doctors" (CBS 1998-99) which, despite only lasting one season, did earn a People's Choice Award for Favorite New Dramatic Television Series. He executive produced and directed an even shorter-lived series soon after: the crime-drama show "Falcone" (CBS 2000). Next up was Hancock's first bona fide hit, the underdog baseball movie "The Rookie" (2002), which he directed from a script by "Finding Forrester" (2000) writer Mike Rich. The Dennis Quaid-starrer foreshadowed Hancock's future thriving with sweet, sentimental films, though Hancock was hardly immune to hurdles at this point. His next movie, "The Alamo" (2004), was in fact a colossal box office bomb.The fiscal failings of "The Alamo" didn't keep Hancock down for long. After the native Texan penned and helmed the historical war film, he turned his interests to a more contemporary story set in the American South, and to great fortune: "The Blind Side" (2009), his second sports movie and first taste of Academy Award interest. The film scored a nomination for Best Picture, and earned its star Sandra Bullock a victory for Best Actress.Hancock filled up his schedule over the next few years, splitting his talents between different films. He wrote the critically maligned by fiscally successful fairy tale update "Snow White and the Huntsman" (2012), directed the P.L. Travers story "Saving Mr. Banks" (2013)-which earned star Emma Roberts a Best Actress nomination-and contributed late-production directorial assistance to Angelina Jolie's box office smash "Maleficent" (2014).