Who Is Paul Feig?
Born in 1962, Paul Feig is an American director, producer, writer and actor who found his passion in all-things comedy. He not only created the 1999-2000 NBC teen comedy Freaks and Geeks, which became a cult classic, but he's also directed episodes of other critically lauded comedies on the small screen, such as The Office, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Weeds, Parks and Recreation and the AMC drama Mad Men. More recently, Feig has taken the director's chair in some big-budget films, famously working with Melissa McCarthy, in Bridesmaids (2011), The Heat (2013), Spy (2015) and Ghostbusters (2016).
Movies and TV Shows
Early on in his career, Feig dipped his toes into the acting pool. He appeared in films like Ski Patrol (1990), Heavyweights (1995) and nabbed a recurring role on the TV show Dirty Dancing. However, his more notable role was in 1996 when he was cast as biology teacher Mr. Eugene Pool on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Although Feig's role as Mr. Pool lasted only one season, his status as Sabrina's favorite high school teacher whose inventiveness and other talents (e.g. teaching Sabrina martial arts) were the kinds of quirks that made him memorable.
'Freaks and Geeks'
But Feig's career prospects were just getting started; he found far-reaching success as a screenwriter and director. Teaming up with writer Judd Apatow, (who co-scripted Heavyweights), Feig created Freaks and Geeks, a teen dramedy that was culled from his memories growing up as a teen in a small town in Michigan. Although NBC picked the show up in 1999, it aired only for one season. Regardless, the show eventually developed a cult following, and Feig received two Emmy nominations for his writing on the show.
In 2018 A+E released a film about the making of Freaks and Geeks under its pop culture docuseries Cultureshock.
But Feig had another series juggernaut a handful of years later. As co-executive producer of The Office, he became part of network comedy history. Starting with the show's sophomore season in 2005, Feig began directing many episodes — including some of its biggest moments, including Jim and Pam’s wedding ("Niagara") and Michael Scott's teary-eyed denouement ("Goodbye, Michael"). Feig attributed The Office's success to its main lead, Steve Carrell.
"Here, Steve Carell is so great that it keeps it a very happy set," he told Vanity Fair in an interview. "They say the fish stinks from the head down, but it also smells great from the head down... I’ve always called [the show] my family, my second family. Everyone is so bonded."
'Bridesmaids' and More Melissa McCarthy Films
The same year that The Office wrapped up in 2011, Feig began working with Melissa McCarthy as the director on Bridesmaids, which also starred Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. The film was a box office hit, grossing over $285 million worldwide. Feig and McCarthy continued to work together as a director and actor duo, producing hits like the buddy cop comedy The Heat (2013) and action comedy Spy (2015).
With all of these female-led comedies under his resume, it's no revelation that Feig has a reputation for celebrating female-centric worlds.
“Most of my friends growing up were either women or sensitive guys like myself,” he told Variety. “I just wanted to hang out with the girls because we made each other laugh. I’ve never had any other worldview than that.”
Spy co-star Rose Byrne could attest to that. She applauds Feig for putting a positive light on “the freaks, the geeks — the women,” adding: “He makes them the smartest people in the room. When I went to Feigco [his production company], his pitch to me was his intention to make female-driven action-comedy vehicles at a studio level. And he’s delivering.”
In 2016 Feig once again collaborated with Melissa McCarthy, this time in the all-female cast reboot of Ghostbusters, but the movie turned into a commercial flop, as soaring production and marketing costs kept it in the red.
Actor Dan Aykroyd, who was in the original film and co-executive produced the reboot, blamed Feig for the financial loss.
"The director, he spent too much on it and he didn’t shoot scenes we suggested to him," Aykroyd told a British morning talk show in June 2017. "Several scenes that were going to be needed, he said, ‘No, we don’t need them.’ And then we tested the movie and they needed them, and he had to go back — about $30 to $40 million in reshoots.”
Paul Feig's wife is manager Laurie Karon, whom he's been married to since 1994.
In February 2018 it was announced that Feig will serve as director and co-executive producer of the all-girl tech incubator comedy Girl Code on the network Freeform.
Born on September 17, 1962, in Mount Clemens, Michigan, Paul Feig was the son of Elaine and Sanford Feig. Although Sanford was born Jewish, he converted to Christian Science, which is the faith Paul was raised in.
After high school, Feig attended Wayne University and finished his higher education at the University of Southern California. After graduating, he jumped into stand-up comedy before taking on small acting roles.
Feig has authored multiple books, including: Kick Me: Adventures in Adolescence, Superstud: Or How I Became a 24-Year-Old Virgin, and the children’s book Ignatius MacFarland: Frequenaut!
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