In the post-9/11 media landscape, Crash’s backstory has garnered nearly as much attention as the plot itself. After personally experiencing a carjacking in 1991, television writer Paul Haggis was inspired to pen this story about social and racial...
Paul Edward Haggis was born on March 10, 1953 in London, Ontario, Canada. From an early age, Haggis was exposed to playwriting and theater production. His parents, Edward Haggis and Mary Yvonne Metcalf, owned the Gallery Theatre in London, Ontario. Haggis continued to develop his interest in the arts when he studied cinematography at Fanshawe College. After graduation, at the young age of 22, Haggis moved to Los Angeles to establish his career in television writing.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, Haggis contributed to programs such as The Love Boat, One Day At a Time, and The Facts of Life. After his initial success, he continued to develop larger-scale television productions. Perhaps most notably, Haggis created Walker, Texas Ranger, a crime action television series. The first episode aired on April 21, 1993. In 2004, Haggis transitioned from television writing to feature filmmaking. He gained significant recognition for his screenwriting work in 2004 on his first feature film, Million Dollar Baby. After the success of Million Dollar Baby, Haggis continued to work on a project that had long been in the back of his mind: Crash. Haggis describes the movie as a “passion piece," and he was inspired by a carjacking he experienced in 1991. However, Haggis did not begin writing the screenplay for Crash until after 9/11. In interviews, Haggis has explained that his astuteness to the race situation in America stems from his Canadian roots.
With Million Dollar Baby and Crash, Haggis became the first person to write Best Picture Oscar winners in two consecutive years. In addition to winning the award for Best Picture, Crash was nominated for six other Academy Awards and various accolades from BAFTA and the Screen Actors Guild. In 2009, Haggis founded Artists for Peace and Justice. This non-profit organization seeks to address poverty in various communities. In particular, the organization has worked in Haiti. Haggis was a member of the Church of Scientology for 34 years. However, in 2009, Haggis resigned from the church due to their opposition to same-sex marriages. His resignation letter has been widely circulated. In January 2018, Haggis was accused of sexual misconduct by four women, including two allegations of rape.