Craig Mazin

On this date in 1971, scriptwriter and film director Craig Mazin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to parents of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, Elaine and Leonard Mazin. In a 2019 podcast he described himself as “the goofy guy, the yelly Jew.” The movie that made him “truly love” film comedy was “Airplane” when he was 9.

He grew up on Staten Island and in central New Jersey before graduating in 1992 from Princeton University. In his freshman year, future U.S. senator Ted Cruz was his roommate, whom he holds in extremely low regard, then and especially now. “You’re a United States Senator, @tedcruz. Stop shitting out of your mouth and do your job with dignity oh who am I kidding you’ve been this pathetic since 1988, and you will remain this pathetic until you’re gone.” (Mazin tweet, June 15, 2020)

He majored in neuropsychology, with an eye toward a neurosurgery career. “But during college, I realized that while I was fascinated by medicine, I loved being creative and entertaining people. So I gave myself a shot.” Having their son “chase a Hollywood dream” did not excite his parents, who both taught in public schools. “I didn’t have any money, didn’t know a soul in L.A., just jumped in and hoped,” Mazin later wrote.(screenwriting forum on reddit, March 1, 2014)

He landed at Walt Disney Pictures and worked as a marketing executive on movies such as “The Santa Clause” and “Crimson Tide.” His screenwriting career started in 1997 with  “RocketMan.” He wrote or co-wrote two “Scary Movie” sequels and two “Hangover” sequels and directed the superhero film “The Specials” (2000) and the 2008 spoof “Superhero Movie.”

Mazin ran a website with Ted Elliott called The Artful Writer from 2005-11, then started the weekly podcast Scriptnotes with John August (584 episodes as of Jan. 31, 2023). In one episode, he comments that screenwriters have to be sadists at times to create conflict and a good story: “As a writer, you are not the New Testament God who turns water into wine. You are the Old Testament God who tortures Job because, I don’t know, it seems like fun.” (The Spectator magazine, May 2, 2020)

“[W]e feel narratively like we have to see people torn apart. And this goes all the way back to the bible … the story of Job,” Mazin said in another episode. “I should mention I don’t believe in anything in the bible. However, the bible is evidence of something. And it is evidence I think of deep-seated instinctive narrative patterns in the human mind. They are expressions of these things that are in us. They are not always sensible or logical, but they are there.” (Scriptnotes episode 378, Aug. 13, 2021) 

He created and wrote the critically acclaimed, five-part HBO series “Chernobyl” in 2019. It won several Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe awards. He was hired in 2020 to co-write and co-produce a TV adaptation for HBO of the video game “The Last of Us,” a nine-episode, post-apocalyptic drama which debuted Jan. 15, 2023. By March, the first five episodes averaged almost 30 million viewers. It was renewed in January 2023 for a second season.

He and his wife Melissa live in Southern California and have two children, Jack and Jessica. 

PHOTO: Mazin at “The Last of Us” premiere in January 2023 in Westwood, Calif.; photo by DFree via Shutterstock

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