M. Night Shyamalan Biography

M. Night Shyamalan photo

Born: August 06, 1970


Birth name: Manoj Night Shyamalan

Date of Birth: August 6, 1970

Born in Mahé, India but raised in the posh suburban Penn Valley area of Philadelphia, Shyamalan was the son of two doctors. He had a very early passion for filmmaking when given a Super-8 camera at age eight, modeling his career to his hero, Steven Spielberg. He began making films at the age of 10 in his hometown. By the age of 16, he'd completed his 45th short film.

At 17, Shyamalan received academic scholarships to several prestigious medical programs. Instead of accepting the scholarships, he attended New York University's Tisch School to pursue his love of filmmaking.

During his final year at NYU, Shyamamlan wrote his first feature film, Praying with Anger. The story was based somewhat on his own trip to visit India, the land of his birth. This critical success was achieved as Shyamalan raised all the necessary funds in his next project, Wide Awake (1997), in which he acted, directed, produced. The film starred Rosie O'Donnell, Denis Leary, Dana Delaney and Robert Loggia, and told the story of the close relationship between a boy in a Catholic school and his grandfather.

The final year of the millennium was good to Shyamalan. In 1999, his screenplay Stuart Little was released onto the big screen. This story of a mouse who is adopted by a wealthy human family was a hit, raking in millions at the theaters. He also completed the box office blockbuster, The Sixth Sense with Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, about a boy who can see the dead. The movie landed him his first Oscar nominations: one for Best Director and the other for Best Screenplay.

His film Signs (2002) starring Mel Gibson was a box office hit, grossing $228 million at the domestic box office. Though The Village didn't do quite as well (it grossed over $114 million), it was a finely crafted suspense film in the same vein as The Sixth Sense. For his work on the film, he received an Empire Award Best Director nomination. Lady in the Water was not as well received and did not turn a profit. His next film, The Happening, was largely unnoticed except by the Razzie awards, which nominated it for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay and Worst Actor (Mark Wahlberg).

Shyamalan decided to go a slightly different route for his next film—although he wrote the screenplay for The Last Airbender, it was based on a hit TV series. In its first weekend at the box office, it did well, coming in second behind The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Luckily, his next movie, Unbreakable (2000) starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis, was a big hit. Although it also debuted in second place at the weekend box office in its first weekend, it made a tidy profit. In 2019, Shyamalan's long-awaited Unbreakable sequel hit theaters. Titled Glass after Jackson's character, it also brought Willis back and teamed the two stars with James McAvoy, who reprised his character from Shyamalan's hit movie, Split (2017).

Whether Shyamalan likes it or not, medicine will always be a part of his life. Besides his parents, 10 other family members are in medicine, including his wife, with whom he has two children.

Filmography (director):

Unbreakable (2010)
The Last Airbender (2010)
The Happening (2008)
Lady in the Water (2006)
The Village (2004)
Signs (2002)
Unbreakable (2000)
Stuart Little (1999) (screenplay)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Wide Awake (1998)
Praying with Anger (1992)
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