Renny Harlin

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Renny Harlin
Renny Harlin (cropped).jpg
Harlin on 28 June 2017
Renny Lauri Mauritz Harjola [1]

(1959-03-15) 15 March 1959 (age 61)
Occupation Film director, film producer, screenwriter
Years active1980–present
(m. 1993;div. 1998)

Renny Harlin (born 15 March 1959 as Renny Lauri Mauritz Harjola; known since 1987 as Harlin by his father's original surname [1] ) is a Finnish film director, producer and screenwriter. His films include A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master , The Adventures of Ford Fairlane , Die Hard 2 , Cliffhanger , The Long Kiss Goodnight and Deep Blue Sea .


Harlin's movies have earned $525,410,873 in the United States and $1,160,546,146 in the worldwide aggregate box office as of October 2016, making him the 115th highest-grossing director in the global film market. [2] His film Cutthroat Island held the Guinness world record for "Biggest Box-Office Flop of All Time". [3]

Life and career

Early life and work

Harlin was born in Riihimäki, Finland, to Oiva Harjola (formerly Harlin), a chief physician at Riihimäki Hospital, and Liisa Koskiluoma, a nurse. [1] [4]

Harlin started his career in the film business in the beginning of the 1980s, directing commercials and company films for companies like Shell. Later, he worked as a buyer for a Finnish film distributor and met fellow Finn Markus Selin in Los Angeles in 1982. They became friends and started writing a screenplay called "Arctic Heat", which later evolved into Born American , with Mike Norris in the leading role. They secured financing from the U.S., and in 1986, Born American became the most expensive Finnish film ever opened in the U.S. in over 1,000 theaters. [5]

Harlin moved to Los Angeles and got a job from Irwin Yablans, who offered him a script of Prison to film. The film was made with a low budget and distributed with only 42 copies. In the same year, 1988, he got a job from New Line Cinema to direct A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) after meeting producer Robert Shaye, who at first did not want Harlin to direct the film. It became the highest-grossing film in the series until the 2003 release of Freddy vs. Jason , and its budget was seven times greater than the original A Nightmare on Elm Street . [5]

Breakthrough and the 1990s

After the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master , Harlin was set to direct Alien 3 . He was attached in the project for a little over a year, but in the end, he was forced to leave the project due to creative differences with the producers. [6]

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane and Die Hard 2 were edited simultaneously and released a week apart in 1990. The former flopped, but the latter was a commercial success. Harlin achieved critical acclaim the following year when he produced Rambling Rose through his own Midnight Sun Pictures for director Martha Coolidge. The film won Best Feature at the 1992 Independent Spirit Awards and earned its star and Harlin's then-partner Laura Dern a Best Actress Oscar nomination at the 1992 Academy Awards.

Harlin, Markus Selin and a number of other businessmen founded the indoor amusement park Planet FunFun in Kerava, Finland, in 1992, which included everything from a tropical park to a cinema park, the latter of which Harlin also gave his own special stamp by swinging his film sets and props to special theme rooms. The park also hosted sports competitions and filmed television series. However, Harlin's park remained short lived and last opened its doors in 1995. [7]

1993's action thriller Cliffhanger had Harlin work for the first time with Sylvester Stallone. Harlin's career suffered a blow with the pirate adventure film Cutthroat Island in 1995 which was a box-office bomb. He did go on to have moderate success with Long Kiss Goodnight starring Samuel L Jackson and Geena Davis in 1996 and Deep Blue Sea in 1999, starring Samuel L Jackson, LL Cool J, Saffron Burrows, Jacqueline McKenzie and Thomas Jane.


Harlin wanted to direct a movie based on Formula One, but unable to secure the rights, he instead produced the film Driven in 2001, based on the American Champ Car series.

Harlin took over directing the action mystery film Mindhunters when the original director Peter Howitt dropped out, but the release was delayed by studio conflicts. Harlin went on to re-shoot a more traditional horror version of Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), after the studio was unhappy with the version cut by director Paul Schrader, which was more of a psychological drama. [8] Mindhunters was released in the U.S. in 2005. Both films were moderate successes.[ citation needed ]

In 2007, it was announced that Harlin would direct an adaptation of the comic-book series Brodie's Law . [9] Harlin directed the WWE Studios action movie 12 Rounds , starring John Cena. It was released in March 2009. [10] In 2009, Harlin directed an independent war film in Georgia. The film, 5 Days of War , was a story about the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia in the region of South Ossetia. In the film, President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili was played by Cuban-American actor Andy García. [11]

2010s and move to China

In April 2012, it was announced that Harlin would direct Devil's Pass , set in Russia's Ural Mountains and starring Matt Stokoe. The film dealt with the Dyatlov Pass incident in 1959, when nine experienced hikers were found dead. At the film's climax, the character played by Matt Stokoe gets attacked by a mutant version of himself from the future. The film was released in 2013. [12] On February 4, 2013, it was announced that Harlin would direct The Legend of Hercules , which opened in theatres on January 10, 2014. [13] One of two Hercules movies released in 2014 – the other being Hercules , starring Dwayne Johnson – it was critically panned and was a box-office bomb.

On May 19, 2014, Harlin was set to direct the action comedy film Skiptrace , with Jackie Chan set to star along with Seann William Scott and Fan Bingbing. [14] On September 3, 2014, it was reported that Johnny Knoxville would fill the role previously thought to be played by Scott. [15]

On June 2016, it was announced Harlin would direct Legend of the Ancient Sword at Alibaba Pictures, based on a Chinese role-playing video game. [16] The film was a box-office bomb grossing only 1.25 million dollars against a budget of 11 million. [17]

Future projects

On June 16, 2017, it was announced Harlin will direct Hanging Coffins for Shanghai Film Group and Shanghai New Wave Films. [18] On June 18, 2017, it was announced Harlin will direct Operation Somalia. The film's story, based on true events, revolves around a rescue operation against Somali pirates mounted by Chinese special forces. [19] On May 8, 2018, it was announced Harlin will direct Solara, a Chinese sci-fi epic revolving around an international team that must work together to save Earth from a global catastrophe. [20] On June 18, 2018, it was announced Harlin will direct Operation Wild. [21]

Unproduced films

Harlin's next project after Driven was to be a movie adaptation of the Ray Bradbury short story A Sound of Thunder , but Harlin left the project after a disagreement with Bradbury. [22] Although the director was changed, Harlin was credited as a producer when the finished film was released in 2005.

In 2006, Harlin collaborated with Markus Selin to direct a biopic of the Finnish President and Marshall of Finland Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, but budget constraints put the project on hold. Instead, Harlin made another foray into low-budget horror with The Covenant , which was another moderate commercial success. In 2007 the Mannerheim film project resumed temporarily and Harlin returned to Finland. Production began in 2008 with Mikko Nousiainen starring as Mannerheim. However, 30% of the funding was cut by one of the financiers due to the global economic recession, and the delay meant that the time window for shooting the winter scenes during the spring of 2009 passed. Pre-production finally commenced in 2010, and the project was assigned to Dome Karukoski in August 2011. [23]

In 2007, it was announced that Harlin would direct an adaptation of the comic-book series Brodie's Law . [24]

In 2011 it was reported that he was planning a sequel to The Long Kiss Goodnight . [25]

Personal life

Harlin was married to actress Geena Davis from 1993 to 1998. He has one child, from a relationship with Tiffany Browne.

Harlin lived in the United States from the mid-1980s until 2014, when he moved to China. [26] [27]



1986 Born American YesNo
1987 Prison YesNo
1988 A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master YesNoNominated—Saturn Award for Best Director
1990 The Adventures of Ford Fairlane YesNoNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
Die Hard 2 YesNo
1991 Rambling Rose NoYesWinner—Independent Spirit Award
1993 Cliffhanger YesNo
1994 Speechless NoYes
1995 Cutthroat Island YesYesNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
1996 Mistrial NoExecutive
The Long Kiss Goodnight YesYes
1999 Blast from the Past NoYes
Deep Blue Sea YesNo
2001 Driven YesNoNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2004 Mindhunters YesExecutive
Exorcist: The Beginning YesNoNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2006 The Covenant YesNo
2007 Cleaner YesNo
2009 12 Rounds YesNo
2011 The Resident NoExecutive
5 Days of War YesYes
2013 Devil's Pass YesYes
2014 The Legend of Hercules YesYesNominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
2016 Skiptrace YesNo
2018 Legend of the Ancient Sword YesNo
2019 Bodies at Rest YesNo
2020 The Misfits YesNo
TBAOperation SomaliaYesNo
TBAOperation WildYesNo

Short films

1980HuostaanottoYesNoas Lauri Harjola
1981Kohtauspaikka 33YesYesas Lauri Harjola
1994The Foot Shooting PartyNoYes


1993-1994 Gladiaattorit YesYesProduced 53 episodes, directed 21 episodes
2011-2012 Burn Notice YesNoSeason 5, Episodes 514 & 518 [Season Finale], and Season 6, Episodes 606 & 610
2012 White Collar YesNoSeason 4, Episode 409
2012 Covert Affairs YesNoSeason 3, Episode 316 [Season Finale]
2013 Graceland YesNoSeason 1, Episodes 103, 105 & 108

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  26. Toivonen, Hannu (December 12, 2012). "Renny Harlin: "Moni nainen ei ole pärjännyt rinnallani"". Seura (in Finnish). Retrieved July 17, 2019. ... vuoden 1984, jolloin ... Renny Harlin poistui Suomesta Yhdysvaltoihin ...
  27. Mattila, Sanni (July 17, 2019). "Renny Harlin, 60, kiinalaisen rakkaansa Kayn, 25, kanssa lomailemassa Suomessa - Pariskunta kertoo avoimesti rakkaustarinan alusta". Iltalehti (in Finnish). Retrieved July 17, 2019. Viisi vuotta Kiinassa asunut Ohjaaja ... En kaipaa Amerikassa asumista yhtään, vaikka asuin siellä 30 vuotta.