John Thomas Sayles (born on September 28, 1950 in Schenectady, New York) is a writer, director and screenwriter American independent cinema, whose career began in 1975, when he began to write novels and short stories. That year he published Pride of the Bimbos, novel which was followed by another titled Union Dudes, which was nominated for the Awards National Critics Circle Award and National Book Award.


Early years

Sayles parents were teachers. Both were Irish, source hence Sayles was educated in Catholicism. Sayles is today considered a “Catholic atheist”.

Sayles studied psychology at University Massachusetts Williams. After finishing studies in 1972, he spent time traveling the country and various, as an employee in a factory of sausages, labor in the construction or nurse jobs. Experiences in this last work he served in writing the history of Passion Fish. He was also a stage actor in repertoire, participated in adaptations of mice and men Steinbeck and one flew over the cuckoo’s nest, Kesey company. In the latter, Sayles played the role of the Chief, due to its high altitude.


As well as other directors as Martin Scorsese, and James Cameron, Sayles gave their first steps in the hand of Roger Corman films. In addition, wrote the screenplays for films such as Piranha battle beyond of the stars, The Howling, the beast under the asphalt. Earnings obtained working with Corman were intended to produce his first film, Return of the Secaucus Seven (1980). This film won the award for best original screenplay of the critique of Los Angeles.

In 1983 after filming movies like Baby it’s You, starring Rossana Arquette, or Lianna (a poignant story about an unhappy married woman with her marriage and fell in love with another woman) Sayles received a MacArthur Fellowship of $40,000 per year for five years. Sayles has continued funding their films with the money to win as a Script Doctor (uncredited often) for big-budget Hollywood as Apollo XIII, Mimic, or Jurassic Park IV movies.

The shape and the theme of Sayles films go changing movie film. The location of the stories is very diverse: Louisiana Passion Fish (1992), Texas Lone Star (1996), Ireland in The Secret of Roan Inish (1994), or Alaska in limbo (1999). His films are characterised by show tensions within communities shown in detail, and divergent views to the prevailing narrative model in Hollywood which focuses on an individual character and a unique point of view.

Sayles is notable also for entering politics in his films, such as the struggle of the miners of West Virginia by creating a Union in Matewan (1987), tensions between the Anglo-Saxon and Latin in Lone Star community or portrait posed in Silver City (2004) elections dominated by a political in Colorado, dynasty which are recognized parallels with the family Bush.

In his last films, Sayles has shown a growing interest in Latin America and the relationship between Hispanic and inside of the same United States Caucasians. This is evident in Lone Star, which takes place in a Texan village on the border with Mexico Armed men (1997), his first film shot entirely in Spanish and an indigenous language, starring Federico Luppi; Babys House (2003), shot in Acapulco and set in a Latin American country where a group of American women wait to grant them a child adoption or Silver City, where once more labor exploitation of illegal immigrants has an important weight in the frame without identifying.

Sayles has been a candidate for the Oscar for best original screenplay twice by Passion Fish and Lone Star.

Sayles has also mounted many of his films, and usually appears in them as an actor in supporting roles.


As other independent filmmakers, John Sayles tends to work with the same actors and technicians over and over again. Among his favorite actors are David Strathairn, whom he met at the University, Maggie Renzi, his companion, who has gone leaving aside his work as an actress to focus on his role as producer, Chris Cooper, who Sayles gave his first film role in Matewan, Joe Morton, Angela Bassett, Kris Kristofferson, or Kevin Tighe, among others.

Mason Daring has composed the original music of all films of Sayles except Baby it’s You, whose soundtrack was composed of swing and pop hits.

Veteran director of photography Haskell Wexler has collaborated on four Sayles movie: The Secret of Roan Inish Matewan, limbo, Silver City.


* Piranha (1978) (screenwriter)

* The beast under the asphalt (1980) (screenwriter)

* Return of the Secaucus 7 (1980) (screenwriter/director)

* The Howling (1981) (screenwriter)

* Lianna (1983) (screenwriter/director)

* Baby it’s You (1983) (screenwriter/director)

* The Brother from Another Planet (1984) (screenwriter/director)

* The clan of the cave bear (1984) (screenwriter)

* Wild Thing (1987) (screenwriter)

* Matewan (1987) (actor, director, screenwriter)

* Eight Men Out (1988) (actor, director, screenwriter)

* Untamagiru (1989) (actor)

* City of hope (1991) (screenwriter/director)

* Passion Fish (1992) (screenwriter/director)

* The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) (screenwriter/director)

* Men of War (1994) (screenwriter)

* Lone Star (1996) (screenwriter/director)

* Men with Guns (1997) (screenwriter/director)

* Limbo (1999) (screenwriter/director)

* Sunshine State (2002) (writer/director)

* Home of the Babys (2003) (screenwriter/director)

* Silver City (2004) (screenwriter/director)

* Honeydripper (2007) (screenwriter/director)

* The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) (co-writer)

* Friend (2010) (screenwriter/director)


* Dillinger in Hollywood (2004) (anthology of short stories)

* The worms (1991) (novel)

* Thinking in Pictures: The Making of the Movie “Matewan” (1987)

* The Anarchists Convention (1979) (anthology of short stories)

* Pride of the Bimbos (1975)

* Union Dues (1977) (novel)