June 6, 1976
Immediately following his college graduation, author, screenwriter, producer, and director Jonathan Nolan's name was up in lights. His unpublished short story was the basis for brother Christopher Nolan's groundbreaking indie film "Memento" (2000), which received a standing ovation when it premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. For most people, that would have been a hard act to follow. Nolan was clearly unlike most people.Shortly after graduating from Georgetown University in 1999, Jonathan Nolan's older brother, director-on-the-rise Christopher Nolan, based his non-linear breakthrough film on his younger brother's short story about displaced identity, Memento Mori. Because the film came out before the story was published, Jonathan Nolan was not credited as screenwriter on "Memento" but he did share an Oscar nomination with his brother for Best Writing (Original Screenplay). The story subsequently appeared in Esquire magazine.Nolan's next project was another collaboration with his brother, a mystery thriller with an epic sweep that pitted Hugh Jackman against Christian Bale in another tale of rivalry and deception, "The Prestige" (2006). The film, which touched on 19th-century leitmotifs of magic, illusion and metaphysics, received several Oscar nominations and performed well at the box office. The screenplay was based on Christopher Priest's 1995 novel of the same name, which drew heavily on the early science fiction writing of H. G. Wells.Nolan followed this success with the blockbuster "The Dark Knight" (2008). His brother's preceding film in the franchise, "Batman Begins" (2005), had a dark originality that had breathed life into a character drained of meaning and became the gold standard for an ailing genre. But the perfect storm of the talents brought to the sequel, along with the tragic death of co-star Heath Ledger and the eerie prescience of Ledger's performance, escalated the mythos surrounding the second installment. The critics went wild, audiences showed up in droves, and the film was showered with awards.Jonathan Nolan also worked on the final installment of the franchise, "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012). He co-wrote the screenplay with brother Christopher, based on a story his brother co-wrote with comic book heavyweight David S. Goyer. The combination of a built-in fan base, smart marketing and the impressive strength of the previous installments brought in $1.081 billion worldwide, catapulting the highly anticipated final chapter in the trilogy to the position of eighth-highest-grossing film of all time. This success came despite a tragedy during a midnight premiere of the film in Aurora, CO, on July 20, 2012, in which a gunman opened fire on a packed theater, killing 12 and injuring 58.In 2011, Nolan turned to the small screen as creator and executive producer of the crime drama "Person of Interest" (CBS 2011-16). The premise, in which a secret computer that monitors all emails, phone calls and security cameras in the United States learns to identity potential murder victims, was based on a screenplay developed by Nolan. The sprawling and paranoid portrayal of post-9/11 government intrigue, packed with characters of questionable identity, became a critical and popular success. The writer-turned-producer also tried his hand at directing for the first time on this project. Returning to the big screen, Nolan reunited with his brother to write the philosophical science fiction blockbuster "Interstellar" (2014), the story of a crew of astronauts searching for a habitable planet as Earth's atmosphere collapses.