Family & Companions
Instrumental in creating the contemporary concept of the "event" motion picture, a movie so vast in scope and appeal that it takes on a life of its own in the world audience's imagination, producer Gale Anne Hurd began her career as Roger Corman's assistant at New World Pictures, moving through the ranks to the company's head of marketing and later as a production executive. She ventured out on her own as producer (and co-writer) of future husband James Cameron's innovative "The Terminator" (1984). Although Orion had serious doubts anyone would be interested in a sci-fi thriller with a female protagonist, the film's overwhelming box-office success conditioned Hollywood to the then-novel idea of a female producer. Hurd solidified her reputation in the action-adventure genre, producing the Cameron-helmed "Aliens" (1986), a superior sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 classic "Alien," featuring a buff Sigourney Weaver, and "The Abyss" (1989), with a central story about a marital breakup that reportedly mirrored the real-life one between her and Cameron. Both films were also noted for employing cutting edge special effects but allowing their casts to shine as well. Despite their divorce, Hurd and Cameron reteamed for the blockbuster sequel "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991), which once again pushed the limits of FX technology.
With Richard Kobritz, Hurd produced the futuristic parable "Alien Nation" (1988), a revolutionary film melding the buddy-cop and sci-fi genres with a touch of social issues thrown in. (She later was a creative consultant on the 1989-90 Fox series it inspired.) She also executive produced the cult favorite "Tremors," about giant wormlike creatures, and "Downtowners" (both 1990), a relatively unsuccessful return to the buddy-cop formula. In partnership with HBO Pictures, she oversaw the intriguing if not completely successful "Cast a Deadly Spell" which premiered on the cable network in 1991 and was directed by Martin Campbell. Hurd undertook identical responsibilities for the off-beat, critically-praised "The Waterdance" (1992), Neil Jimenez's bravely funny and poignant semi-autobiographical drama about a group of men adjusting to their physical handicaps. In recognition of her commitment to independent filmmaking, the Independent Feature Project/West asked her to serve on the organization's board of directors.
Enduring a stormy brief second marriage to Brian De Palma that resulted in the thriller "Raising Cain" (1992), Hurd went on to oversee a variety of features that met with mixed results at the box office, despite their artistic quality. "No Escape" (1994), helmed by Martin Campbell, was pure entertainment, a futuristic action adventure featuring Ray Liotta as a man attempting to bust out of a maximum security prison. "Witch Hunt" (HBO, 1994), directed by Paul Schrader, was a supernatural comedy that attempted to draw parallels between McCarthyism and witchcraft and served as a sequel of sorts to "Cast a Deadly Spell." Hurd produced the big screen family drama "Safe Passage" (1994) which became more noted for the legal wranglings instituted by an alleged collaborator (whose claims were finally dismissed in the courts) than for the well-acted though mawkish storyline about a woman (Susan Sarandon) coping with the news that one of her sons may have been killed. Hurd arguably enjoyed her biggest success in the mid-90s with the HBO biopic "Sugartime" (1995), which examined the alleged relationship between singer Phyllis McGuire and reputed mobster Sam Giancana. (McGuire vociferously objected to the depiction of the relationship in the movie, but the film featured strong performance by Mary-Louise Parker and John Turturro in the leads). "The Ghost and the Darkness" (1996) proved to be a rousing, old-fashioned period drama about lions that were attacking a building site in Africa while "The Relic" (1997) was a thriller about a mysterious museum piece. Brought in too late to salvage "Dante's Peak" (1997), which also suffered from being the second film about a volcano eruption that year. Hurd demonstrated her skill and creativity for producing a large-scale film with the megahit "Armageddon" (1998), a summertime extravaganza co-scripted and executive produced by third husband Jonathan Hensleigh in which Bruce Willis and company save the world from an oncoming asteroid. (It was the first under her production banner Valhalla Motion Pictures.) On the other hand, "Virus" (1999), a cross between "Alien" and 1995's "Outbreak" fizzled at the box office.
Hurd next served as producer on the summer sci-fi comedy "Clockstoppers" (2001) and had several other projects in the pipeline, including two highly-anticipated features: the as yet untitled second sequel to "The Terminator" with Arnold Schwarzennegger once again in the title role; and "The Hulk," Ang Lee's projected take on the popular comic book "The Incredible Hulk."
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Began career as executive assistant to Roger Corman at New World Pictures
Worked as assistant production manager on "Battle Beyond the Stars" and production assistant on "Humanoids From the Deep"
Producing debut (as co-producer), "Smokey Bites the Dust"
Formed Pacific Western Productions
Produced (and co-scripted) the hit sci-fi actioner "The Terminator"; first collaboration with James Cameron
Served as a producer on Cameron's sequel "Aliens"; film garnered seven Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars (Sound Effects and Visual Effects)
Produced "Bad Dreams", the first feature under the No Frills Films banner
With Richard Kobritz, produced the feature "Alien Nation"; later was creative consultant for the Fox series "Alien Nation" (1989-1990)
Served as producer of Cameron's underwater thriller "The Abyss"; reportedly the marital breakup of the lead couple in the film was loosely inspired by the realtionship of Cameron and Hurd; film nominated for four Oscars, winning the statue for Best Visual Effects
Appeared on NBC News special, "The New Hollywood"
Produced the HBO film "Cast a Deadly Spell", directed by Martin Campbell
Signed production deal with Universal for two-year, first-look deal in partnership with second husband Brian De Palma
Reteamed with Cameron, serving as executive producer on the sequel "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"; film introduced state-of-the-art special effects including morphing and was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning four (for Sound Effects Editing, Makeup, Sound and Special Effects)
On a different note, produced the arty independent "The Waterdance", which received the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and won two Independent Spirit Awards (Best First Feature and Best Screenplay)
First and only collaboration with De Palma, "Raising Cain"
Sued by producer Dan Lupovitz over his participation in the film "Safe Passage"; suit dismissed in 1996
Was producer of the action adventure "No Escape", helmed by Campbell
Was executive producer of the HBO biopic "Sugartime", centering on the relationship between singer Phyllis McGuire and reputed mob boss Sam Giancana
Produced the period drama "The Ghost and the Darkness"
Served as producer of the thrillers "The Relic" and "SwitchBack" and the disaster-themed "Dante's Peak"
Announced attempt to block sale of the rights to a third "Terminator" film to producer Andy Vajna by the bankrupt Carolco Pictures; Hurd later withdrew her opposition
Had blockbuster hit as one of the producers of "Armageddon"; co-scripted by third husband Jonathan Hensleigh; film received four Oscar nominations
Produced the comedy "Dick", about two high school students who become embroiled in Watergate
Served as producer of the sci-fi comedy "Clockstoppers"