Ron Underwood
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Ron Underwood

Ron Underwood
Born Ronald Brian Underwood
(1953-11-06) November 6, 1953 (age 64)
Glendale, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of Southern California
Occupation Film director, producer and television director
Years active 1980-present
Sandy Underwood
Children Larissa, Lana, Lauren

Ronald Brian "Ron" Underwood (born November 6, 1953) is an American film director, producer and television director.

Early life

Underwood was born in Glendale, California. He was an AFS exchange student living in Ceylon which was renamed Sri Lanka. After graduating from high school he briefly attended Occidental College as a pre-med student, but transferred to the USC School of Cinema (now USC School of Cinematic Arts) after deciding to become a filmmaker. Underwood majored in cinema with a minor in anthropology.

Film career

Early career (1976-1989)

Upon completion of his fellowship at the American Film Institute, Underwood began working as a staff director for Barr films, a company specializing in the production of educational films. Underwood directed over one hundred short films, including an adaptation of the Kurt Vonnegut short story, "Deer in the Works", starring Dennis Dugan. While directing and producing short films for the educational market, Underwood pursued work in the motion picture industry. One of the first movies Underwood worked on was Futureworld (1976) as a production assistant. The film starred Blythe Danner and Peter Fonda, actors he would later direct in 2004. During the filming of Futureworld, one of his tasks was to babysit a young Gwyneth Paltrow. Soon after Underwood served as the location manager on the Peter Hyams directed motion picture, Capricorn One (1978). Another early job was acting as an assistant director to first-time director David Schmoeller on Tourist Trap, a low-budget horror film. After this he continued to direct and produce educational films for the next seven years. In 1986 Underwood established himself as a director when his animated special The Mouse and the Motorcycle won a Peabody Award, which was followed two years later by the sequel Runaway Ralph, for which he received a Daytime Emmy nomination.

Mainstream breakthrough (1990-present)

Following his critically acclaimed venture into television, Underwood decided to have a go at directing feature films. His first effort was Tremors[1] starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Reba McEntire in her acting debut. Written by his friends Brent Maddock & S. S. Wilson, it was released by Universal Studios in 1990. The film was well received by the critics and later established itself as a cult classic.

Underwood received his first taste of commercial success with 1991's City Slickers, which starred Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Jack Palance, who won an Academy Award for his performance. The film made $179m worldwide with a budget of only $27m. It was the tenth most successful film released in 1991 (the fifth most successful in the US). His next film, also written by Brent Maddock & S. S. Wilson, Heart and Souls (1993), was again well-received by critics but struggled at the box office (making a total of $16m in the US). It starred Robert Downey, Jr., Charles Grodin, Tom Sizemore, Kyra Sedgwick, Elisabeth Shue and Alfre Woodard. He followed this with Speechless (1994), written by Robert King and starring Michael Keaton and Geena Davis.

Given the opportunity to direct a big-budget film by Walt Disney Pictures in 1998, he was asked to direct Mighty Joe Young, a remake of the 1949 RKO film. The film, starring Charlize Theron in her first lead role, was nominated for the Academy Award for Visual Effects and featured some of the most sophisticated special effects seen in film up to that point, paving the way for later ape films like Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005). The special effects drove production costs to around $90m.

Following Mighty Joe Young, Underwood began work on Eddie Murphy fronted The Adventures of Pluto Nash. The film also starred Rosario Dawson and was filmed in Montreal, Canada. Unfortunately for Underwood, the film was greeted with universally poor reception, and proved a box-office failure.

Underwood has returned to his roots, directing both low-budget films and television. He directed Stealing Sinatra (2003) for Showtime, for which William H. Macy received an Emmy nomination, Back When We Were Grownups (2004) for the Hallmark Hall of Fame which garnered star Blythe Danner nominations for the Golden Globe and the Emmy, and In the Mix (2005), starring R&B singer Usher, Chazz Palminteri and Emmanuelle Chriqui for Lions Gate Entertainment. He directed several holiday themed movies for television: The Year Without a Santa Claus, Holiday in Handcuffs, and Santa Baby. He has directed a number of episodic television dramas, including episodes of Monk, Boston Legal, Reaper, Ugly Betty, Heroes, Chaos, Grey's Anatomy, Burn Notice, Once Upon a Time, Desperate Housewives, Nashville, Scandal, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Quantico and The Good Fight.


Film director
Year Film Notes
1980 Deer in the Works Short Film based on the story by Kurt Vonnegut in "Welcome to the Monkey House"
1990 Tremors Spawned five sequels and a Syfy network TV series
1991 City Slickers Won Best Supporting Actor Oscar, Won Best Supporting Actor, Nominated for Best Motion Picture, Best Actor Comedy/Musical 1992 Golden Globe Awards
1993 Heart and Souls Won Best Actor, Nominated for Best Director, Best Fantasy Film, Best Writing, Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress 1994 Saturn Awards
1994 Speechless Nominated Best Actress Comedy/Musical 1995 Golden Globe Awards
1998 Mighty Joe Young Remake of a 1949 film of the same name, Nominated for Best Visual Effects 1999 Oscar
2002 The Adventures of Pluto Nash Razzie Award nomination for Worst Director
2003 Stealing Sinatra Nominated Supporting Actor 2004 Emmy
2005 In the Mix
Television director
Year Film Notes
1986 ABC Weekend Specials Episodes The Mouse and the Motorcycle and Runaway Ralph
2003 Monk Episodes Mr. Monk Goes to the Theater and Mr. Monk Goes to Mexico
2004 Back When We Were Grownups TV movie
Boston Legal Episodes Change of Course and The Ass Fat Jungle
2006 Santa Baby TV movie
The Year Without A Santa Claus Live-action Remake, TV movie
2007 Holiday in Handcuffs TV movie
Reaper Episodes Magic, My Brothers's Reaper, and Dirty Sexy Mongol
2008 The Secret Life of the American Teenager Episodes Falling in Love, What Have You Done to Me? and I Feel Sick
Ugly Betty Episodes Ugly Berry and Zero Worship
Eli Stone Episodes Owner of a Lonely Heart and One More Try
2009 Make It or Break It Episode Where's Kaylie?
Drop Dead Diva Episodes The 'F' Word and Dead Model Walking
Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe TV movie
2010 Heroes Episode Chapter Twelve: 'Upon This Rock'
Castle Episode Food to Die For
Happy Town Episode Questions and Antlers
No Ordinary Family Episode No Ordinary Vigilante
Hellcats Episodes Worried Baby Blues and Finish What We Started
2011 Chaos Episodes Song of the North and Love and Rockets and Mincemeat
Necessary Roughness Episodes Anchor Management
Castle Episode Food to Die For
Harry's Law Episodes American Girl and The Whole Truth
Deck the Halls TV movie
2012 Grey's Anatomy Episodes Suddenly and The Girl With No Name
Burn Notice Episode Means and Ends
Desperate Housewives Episode What's the Good of Being Good
Scandal Episode Hunting Season
Once Upon a Time Episodes Red-Handed and Into The Deep
2013 Castle Episode Scared to Death
Once Upon a Time Episodes Lost Girl and The New Neverland
The Glades Episodes Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves and Fast Ball
Scandal Episode Snake in the Garden
2014 Grey's Anatomy Episodes Things We Said Today and You Got To Hide Your Love Away
Nashville Episode We've Got Things To Do
Resurrection Episodes Us Against the World and Multiple
Once Upon a Time Episode Snow Drifts and White Out
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode A Fractured House
2015 Grey's Anatomy Episode All I Could Do Is Cry
Once Upon a Time Episodes Best Laid Plans and Mother and The Dark Swan
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode Devils You Know
Nashville Episode Unguarded Moments
2016 Once Upon a Time Episodes Firebird and A Bitter Draught and Wish You Were Here
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode Bouncing Back
Quantico Episode Drive
Dead of Summer Episode Barney Rubble Eyes
BrainDead Episode Taking on Water: How Leaks in D.C. Are Discovered and Patched
Hawaii Five-0 Episode Ka hale ho 'okauweli
No Tomorrow Episode No Regrets
2017 Once Upon a Time Ill-Boding Patterns and The Song in Your Heart and The Garden of Forking Paths
The Good Fight Episode Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate
Hawaii Five-0 Episode He kaha lu'u ke ala, mai kolo aku
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World Episode Dave
2018 MacGyver Episode Mac + Jack
Once Upon a Time Episodes Breadcrumbs and Is This Henry Mills?
The Good Fight Day 429 and Day 485

Awards and nominations

Peabody Awards:

  • 1986 Peabody Award ("ABC Weekend Specials", "The Mouse and the Motorcycle")

Daytime Emmy Awards:

  • 1987: Special Class Directing (ABC Weekend Specials, "Runaway Ralph" nominated)

Saturn Award:

  • 1994: Best Director (Heart and Souls, nominated)

Golden Raspberry Awards:

  • 2003: Worst Director (The Adventures of Pluto Nash, nominated)

Directors Guild of America Award:

  • 2007: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children's Programs (The Year Without a Santa Claus, nominated)


  1. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (September 15, 2011). Horror Films of the 1990s. McFarland. pp. 134-. ISBN 9780786440122. Retrieved 2012. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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