Birthdate: March 26, 1970
Birthplace: Camberwell, London, England, UK
Martin McDonagh (birthname: Martin Faranan McDonagh) is first and foremost a writer of dramas observing—with caustic humor and detail—characters often living on the criminal edge. While his initial fame was as a highly successful and lauded playwright on the London stage (his plays were usually set in violent conditions in western Ireland, the birthplace of his parents), McDonagh has made an emphatic shift to cinema as a triple-threat director-writer-producer, including his Oscar-winning comedy-drama, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017).
After the success of his early pair of trilogies for the stage—including The Beauty Queen of Leenane (1996) and The Lonesome West (1997), as well as The Cripple of Inishmaan (1996)—Martin McDonagh began his first steps into cinema with a short film, Six Shooter (2004), with Brendan Gleeson, which won the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short. Soon after this success, McDonagh made his feature debut, the black crime comedy, In Bruges (2008), with Gleeson and Colin Farrell as a pair of Irish hitmen in Belgium.
It earned the opening night slot at the Sundance Film Festival and scored McDonagh’s second Oscar nod, for a Best Screenplay nomination. Moving more and more to the big screen and away from the stage, McDonagh also shifted to the U.S. for the setting of his second satirical feature, Seven Psychopaths (2012), starring Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, and Tom Waits, and winning a People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival’s popular Midnight Madness section.
McDonagh’s major breakthrough in the movies was emphatically his third feature, the widely acclaimed Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, with Frances McDormand, Rockwell, Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, and Željko Ivanek. The film was nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Picture and Screenplay), with McDormand (Best Actress) and Rockwell (Best Supporting Actor) winning.
This meant that, with one short film and only three features, McDonagh received four Oscar nominations and one win. In 2022, McDonagh’s fourth feature marked a return to western Ireland with the crime-inflected The Banshees of Inisherin, co-starring Gleeson and Farrell, and premiering in competition at the Venice Film Festival.
Raised in London by parents who emigrated to the United Kingdom from western Ireland during the Irish “Troubles,” Martin McDonagh grew up with his brother John Michael McDonagh, who later became a screenwriter.
Martin dropped out of high school and continued living in London with his brother when their parents moved back to County Galway in Ireland in 1992. McDonagh is in a relationship with writer-actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge, starting in 2018. He is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and Ireland. McDonagh’s height is 6’ 1”.
Influences: Despite being a prolific and awarded playwright, Martin McDonagh has cited that his primary creative influences are Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and Terrence Malick.
Theater Record: McDonagh was the first British playwright since William Shakespeare to have four plays running simultaneously in the commercial London theater, in the West End.
Training Ground: Martin McDonagh notes that his training ground as a writer was for radio, where he wrote his first plays and learned the art and craft of dialogue.