Renny Harlin

Renny Harlin

Birth name: Lauri Mauritz Harjola
Born: March 15, 1959
Age: 59
Birthplace: Riihimäki, Finland
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Renny Harlin (born Lauri Mauritz Harjola; 15 March 1959) is a Finnish film director, producer and screenwriter. His films include A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Deep Blue Sea.

Harlin's movies have earned $525,410,873 in the United States and $1,160,546,146 in the worldwide aggregate box office as of October 2016, making him the 115th highest-grossing director in the global film market. His film Cutthroat Island held the Guinness world record for "Biggest Box-Office Flop of All Time".


Life and career

Early life and work

Harlin was born in Riihimäki, Finland, to a nurse and a physician.

Harlin started his career in the film business in the beginning of the 1980s, directing commercials and company films for companies like Shell. Later, he worked as a buyer for a Finnish film distributor and met fellow Finn Markus Selin in Los Angeles in 1982. They became friends and started writing a screenplay called "Arctic Heat", which later evolved into Born American, with Mike Norris in the leading role. They secured financing from the U.S., and in 1986, Born American became the most expensive Finnish film ever opened in the U.S. in over 1,000 theaters.

Harlin moved to Los Angeles and got a job from Irwin Yablans, who offered him a script of Prison to film. The film was made with a low budget and distributed with only 42 copies. In the same year, 1988, he got a job from New Line Cinema to direct A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) after meeting producer Robert Shaye, who at first did not want Harlin to direct the film. It became the highest-grossing film in the series until the 2003 release of Freddy vs. Jason, and its budget was seven times greater than the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Breakthrough and the 1990s

After the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Harlin was set to direct Alien 3. He was attached in the project for a little over a year, but in the end, he was forced to leave the project due to creative differences with the producers.

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Die Hard 2 were edited simultaneously and released a week apart in 1990. The former flopped, but the latter was a commercial success. Harlin achieved critical acclaim the following year when he produced Rambling Rose through his own Midnight Sun Pictures for director Martha Coolidge. The film won Best Feature at the 1992 Independent Spirit Awards and earned its star and Harlin's then-partner Laura Dern a Best Actress Oscar nomination at the 1992 Academy Awards.

1993's Cliffhanger had Harlin work for the first time with Sylvester Stallone. Harlin's career suffered a blow with the pirate adventure film Cutthroat Island in 1995. He followed Cutthroat Island with Long Kiss Goodnight starring Samuel L Jackson and Geena Davis in 1996 and Deep Blue Sea, starring Samuel L Jackson, LLCoolJ, Saffron Burrows, Jacqueline McKenzie and Thomas Jane.


Harlin wanted to direct a movie based on Formula One, but unable to secure the rights, he instead produced the film Driven in 2001, based on the American Champ Car series. Harlin's next project after Driven was to be a movie adaptation of the Ray Bradbury short story A Sound of Thunder, but Harlin left the project after a disagreement with Bradbury. Although the director was changed, Harlin was credited as a producer when the finished film was released in 2005.

Harlin took over directing the action mystery film Mindhunters when the original director Peter Howitt dropped out, but the release was delayed by studio conflicts. Harlin went on to re-shoot a more traditional horror version of Exorcist: The Beginning when the studio was unhappy with the psychological drama cut by director Paul Schrader. Due to the delays with Mindhunters, both films ended up being released in 2004 and both were moderate successes.

In 2006, Harlin collaborated with Markus Selin to direct a biopic of the Finnish President and Marshall of Finland Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, but budget constraints put the project on hold. Instead, Harlin made another foray into low-budget horror with The Covenant, which was another moderate commercial success. In 2007, the Mannerheim film project resumed temporarily, and Harlin returned to Finland. Production began in 2008 with Mikko Nousiainen starring as Mannerheim. However, 30% of the funding was cut by one of the financiers due to the global economic recession, and the delay meant that the time window for shooting the winter scenes during the spring of 2009 passed. Pre-production finally commenced in 2010, and the project was assigned to Dome Karukoski in August 2011.

In 2007, it was announced that Harlin would direct an adaptation of the comic-book series Brodie's Law. Harlin directed the WWE Studios action movie 12 Rounds, starring John Cena. It was released in March 2009. In 2009, Harlin directed an independent war film in Georgia. The film, 5 Days of War, was a story about the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia in the region of South Ossetia. In the film, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was played by Cuban-American actor Andy García.

2010s and move to China

In 2011, it was reported that Harlin was planning a sequel to The Long Kiss Goodnight. In April 2012, it was announced that Harlin would direct Devil's Pass, set in Russia’s Ural Mountains. The fact-based film dealt with the Dyatlov Pass incident in 1959, when nine experienced hikers were found dead. The film was released in 2013. On February 4, 2013, it was announced that Harlin would direct The Legend of Hercules, which opened in theatres on January 10, 2014.

On May 19, 2014, Harlin was set to direct the action comedy film Skiptrace, with Jackie Chan set to star along with Seann William Scott and Fan Bingbing. However, on September 3, 2014, it was reported that Johnny Knoxville would fill the role previously thought to be played by Scott. The film and his work in China promise new success for Harlin.

Future projects

On June 2016, it was announced Harlin will direct Legend of the Ancient Sword at Alibaba Pictures, based on a Chinese role-playing video game. On June 16, 2017, it was announced Harlin will direct Hanging Coffins for Shanghai Film Group and Shanghai New Wave Films. On June 18, 2017, it was announced Harlin will direct Operation Somalia. The film's story, based on true events, revolves around a rescue operation against Somali pirates mounted by Chinese special forces.



Year Film Notes
1986 Born American
1987 Prison
1988 A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Director
1990 The Adventures of Ford Fairlane Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
Die Hard 2
1993 Cliffhanger
1995 Cutthroat Island Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
1996 The Long Kiss Goodnight
1999 Deep Blue Sea
2001 Driven Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2004 Mindhunters
Exorcist: The Beginning Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2006 The Covenant
2007 Cleaner
2009 12 Rounds
2011 5 Days of War
2013 Devil's Pass
2014 The Legend of Hercules Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2016 Skiptrace
2018 Bodies at Rest
TBA Legend of the Ancient Sword
TBA Hanging Coffins
TBA Operation Somalia

Short films

  • Custody (1980) under his birth name Lauri Harjola


  • Kohtauspaikka 33 (1981) under the name Lauri Harjola
  • T.R.A.X. (2000)
  • Burn Notice (Season 5, Episodes 514 & 518, 2011, and Season 6, Episodes 606 & 610, 2012)
  • White Collar (Season 4, Episode 409, 2012)
  • Covert Affairs (Season 3, Episode 316, 2012)
  • Graceland (Season 1, Episodes 103, 105 & 108, 2013)

[ Source: Wikipedia ]