As an actor, writer, director and producer, Jon Favreau has been involved in some greatly memorable projects that audiences look back on with sincere fondness. Whether he’s got a guest role in Friends as Pete Becker (Monica Geller’s millionaire boyfriend with MMA dreams), writing the successful indie comedy Swingers or directing one of the most beloved Christmas films of all time (Elf), Favreau has demonstrated impeccable range and a penchant for creating or choosing quality material.
Favreau was born in Queens, New York, but moved to Chicago in the Summer of 1988 to pursue comedy. He made his first film appearance in the sleeper hit Rudy (1993) and met friend and future collaborator, Vince Vaughn, during production. After landing a role in an episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, Favreau moved to Los Angeles and made his breakthrough in 1996 with Swingers, a film he wrote independently and co-starred in with Vaughn. Favreau continued to work in television and eventually made his directorial debut with Made (2001), another self-penned script. He then ventured more into family-friendly territory, directing Will Ferrell in Elf, the Christmas story of a man who discovers after 30 years that he is not one of Santa’s helpers and heads to the Big Apple to connect with his biological father.
With a few exceptions, Favreau’s filmography skews to and appeases audiences encapsulating a wide age range, particularly families with young children. From Elf to Zathura, the worlds are full of adventure, humour and messages that can be appreciated by anyone who is willing to engage with them, regardless of age. Favreau credits the popular game Dungeons and Dragons with instilling in him “…a really strong background in imagination, storytelling, understanding how to create tone and a sense of balance. Wielding this knowledge, Favreau was subsequently in part responsible for the conception of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Almost ten years ago back in 2008, Iron Man was released. Production was troubled, with scenes often being written on the same day they were to be shot, but the gamble that Favreau and producer Kevin Feige took paid off. The film revitalised Robert Downey Jr’s acareer and became a critical and commercial hit. Favreau remarked of the bold risks he took, “It was my job as a director to show that it was the best choice creatively…and now the Marvel Universe is the biggest franchise in film history.” Its sequel, Iron Man 2, was less well received and Favreau stepped away from his directing duties but he continues to appear as Tony Stark’s grumpy security man, Happy Hogan, most recently in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Favreau’s latest directorial effort, 2016’s The Jungle Book, was a groundbreaking project in more ways than one. Unbelievably, the entire movie was shot on sound stages and all of the animals (such as Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther) were created entirely through key frame computer animation. The film was a visual marvel and became the fifth highest grossing film of 2016. The immense success led to Favreau securing another high profile directing gig; the live action remake of The Lion King. Having assembled an all-star cast including Donald Glover, Seth Rogen and Beyoncé, Favreau looks poised to have yet another acclaimed film for all audiences to enjoy.
• Elf (2003)
• Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)
• Iron Man (2008)
• Iron Man 2 (2010)
• Chef (2014)
• The Jungle Book (2016)
By Evie Brudenall