Biography of Mark Waters

Mark Waters is an American film producer, director, and writer, from Wyandotte, Michigan. He first became widely known in Hollywood for his 1997 film adaptation of Wendy MacLeod's 1990 play The House of Yes, starring Parker Posey, which received fairly favorable reviews. Four years later he directed Head Over Heels, a romantic comedy starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Monica Potter that was both critically and financially unsuccessful. The following year he directed a made-for-TV movie called Warning: Parental Advisory on VH1 starring Jason Priestley and Mariel Hemingway, about the formation of the Parents Music Resource Center (PSMRC).

In 2003 the Walt Disney Corporation chose Waters to direct their newest reboot of Freaky Friday, a franchise popularized by the 1976 film version starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris. Waters originally wanted Foster to return to play the mother in the modern version, but Foster declined. Annette Bening was then cast in the role, but pulled out at the last minute, leading to Jamie Lee Curtis being cast only four days before filming began. In the role of the daughter, Waters chose 16-year old actress Lindsay Lohan, already the well-known star of other Disney productions like The Parent Trap (1998), Life-Size (2000), and Get a Clue (2002).

Waters' 2003 version of Freaky Friday was a critical and commercial success, making over $160 million on a $20 million budget. Critics singled out Jamie Lee Curtis for her inspired performance as Tess Coleman, a mother channeling the personality of her teenage daughter. Lindsay Lohan won an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance and the Teen Choice Award for Best Breakout Movie Star for her portrayal of Tess's daughter, Anna Coleman.

Tina Fey then chose Waters to direct a script adapted from Rosalind Wiseman's Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, & Other Realities of Adolescence. By 2003, Fey had already been writing for Saturday Night Live for six years, and co-hosting its "Weekend Update" segment with Jimmy Fallon for three. Mean Girls was her first feature film script, and seemed to pair well with Waters' recent success working with young adult actors, including Lindsay Lohan, who would also star in Mean Girls. Mark Waters's brother Daniel Waters also wrote the 1998 high-school dark comedy Heathers—arguably the prime cinematic influence on Mean Girls.

In a 2003 interview, Waters states that he still corresponds with independent directors and film auteurs like Darren Aronofsky and Todd Field, making him in some sense an odd fit for mainstream Disney productions and big-budget studio films. Since Mean Girls, he has directed Just Like Heaven (2005), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009), Mr. Popper's Penguins (2011), Vampire Academy (2014), and Bad Santa 2 (2016).

Study Guides on Works by Mark Waters

Mean Girls is a high school teen comedy released in 2004 by Paramount Pictures, starring Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams. Mark Waters directed the script written by Tina Fey, adapted from the self-help book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind...