New Plymouth, New Zealand
One of the most celebrated storytellers ever to emerge from New Zealand, Anthony McCarten achieved success as a author, playwright and screenwriter with the likes of coming-of-age novel Death of a Superhero, stage production "Ladies Night" and big-screen Stephen Hawking biopic "The Theory of Everything" (2014). Born in New Plymouth in 1961, McCarten first worked as a reporter for The Taranaki Herald before going onto study for degrees in both the arts and creative writing at two of his homeland's most prestigious universities. Shortly after, McCarten began to establish his reputation as a playwright, and in 1987 co-wrote "Ladies Night," a precursor to "The Full Monty" (1997) which became New Zealand's most commercially successful production of all time. After helming two short movies, "Nocturne in a Room" (1992) and "Fluff" (1995), McCarten ventured further into cinema, adapting his own play, "Via Satellite" (1999), for a big-screen comedy-drama focusing on an Olympic swimmer's family gathering to watch her quest for glory. In the same year, McCarten also published his first novel, Spinners, about a teenage meat packer who falls pregnant after encountering a group of aliens. McCarten continued to showcase his talents in both the literary and film worlds throughout the next decade with the likes of The English Harem, the tale of a young working class girl who marries a polygamous Persian restauranteur, and Death of a Superhero, a heart-wrenching story of a dying 15-year-old who uses his own comic book drawings as a form of escapism, both of which he also later adapted for a 2005 BBC drama and 2011 film starring Andy Serkis. McCarten's fourth book, Show of Hands, in which a group of oddballs compete in an endurance competition to win a car, was also turned into a full-length feature in 2008. Exploring the affect that the Internet has on personal relationships, Death of a Superhero sequel In The Absence of Hearts, arrived in 2012, as did Brilliance, which focused on the friendship between lightbulb inventor Thomas Edison and 19th Century banker J.P. Morgan. McCarten then became the toast of Hollywood thanks to his work as both a screenwriter and producer on Stephen Hawking biopic "The Theory of Everything" (2014), picking up major award nominations at the likes of the Golden Globes and BAFTAs. After adding to his body of work with Funny Girl, a novel about a Kurdish girl who becomes the first female Muslim stand-up comedian, McCarten returned to film, penning the script for a drama based on a month in the life of Winston Churchill, "Darkest Hour" (2015).