Chris Terrio

Chris Terrio
Born Christopher Terrio
(1976-12-31) December 31, 1976
Staten Island, New York, United States
Alma mater Harvard University
University of Cambridge
USC School of Cinematic Arts
Occupation Screenwriter, film director

Chris Terrio (born December 31, 1976) is an American screenwriter and film director. He is best known for writing the screenplay for the 2012 film Argo, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[1] Terrio also won the Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay of 2012[2] and was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay, a BAFTA and the 2013 Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Terrio wrote the screenplay for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the follow-up to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, based on an earlier draft by David S. Goyer. He has also recently completed a screenplay entitled A Foreigner, based on an article by the journalist David Grann, and Justice League for Warner Bros.

Early life and education

Chris Terrio was raised in a Catholic family in Staten Island.[3][4] He is of Italian and Irish descent.[5] He graduated in 1997 from Harvard University, where he studied English literature and German phenomenology, lived in Adams House, and participated in the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club and the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.[6] Terrio attended University of Cambridge for his MLitt,[7] but eventually decided to enroll in film school.[3] He received his master's degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 2002.[8]



At age 26, he directed the feature film Heights (Sony Pictures Classics, 2005), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It follows a pivotal twenty-four hours in the interconnected lives of five New Yorkers. It stars Glenn Close, Elizabeth Banks, James Marsden and Jesse Bradford, and features Isabella Rossellini, George Segal and Rufus Wainwright in small roles. It was one of the final films produced by Ismail Merchant. The film won a "Best Independent Feature Film Casting" award from the Casting Society of America, USA in 2005.

In 2010, he directed the episode "I Look Like Frankenstein", which was Episode 8 in Season 3 of Damages on FX.

In 2002, he directed, wrote and produced a short film entitled Book of Kings, which starred Aasif Mandvi among others. It premiered at Robert De Niro's first annual Tribeca Film Festival in 2002, and continued to play on film circuits around the world, picking up several major awards.

Terrio plans to direct films based on his screenplays The Ends of the Earth, Random Family, and A Foreigner in the next two years.


Terrio wrote the script for Argo, winning the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the screenplay, and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. His screenplay was also nominated for Best Screenplay awards from the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards. For the Argo screenplay, he also won Best Screenplay or Best Adapted Screenplay honors from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, the Online Film Critics Society Awards, the Austin Film Critics Association, the Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards, the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards, the Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards, the 2013 University of Southern California (USC) Scripter Award, and the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards. He loosely adapted the screenplay based on a Wired article by Joshuah Bearman entitled "The Great Escape" and the autobiography of Tony Mendez, The Master of Disguise, supplementing that material with extensive research of his own.

Terrio recalls the experience of writing a dialogue-intensive scene for Argo:

Scene 58--nine men sitting in a conference room talking through scenarios for cover stories to get Americans out of Iran--was difficult. There's nothing to cut to except the actors' faces. The tension has to come from the subtle shifts of power. CIA and State Department officials debate ideas, each worse than the last. I knew the crucial beat would come when our hero, Tony Mendez speaks up. He couldn't seem disrespectful, yet he had to make his case. I settled on the idea that Mendez would throw a spitball into the conversation with a joke about giving the bicycle escapees Gatorade. The table would go silent. The attention of the room would shift to the court jester. I also had to determine whether Gatorade was on the market and a commonly recognized brand in December of 1979. I celebrated when I found a magazine from the year before featuring a dehydrated athlete with a Village People moustache: 'Gatorade: When You're Thirsty to Win.'[9]

Terrio also wrote the screenplays for two films he directed: the feature film Heights, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival, and the award-winning short film Book of Kings.

Terrio re-wrote David S. Goyer's script for Warner Bros.' Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).[10] On July 25, 2014, Variety reported that Terrio was also eyed by Warner Bros. to write the screenplay for Justice League.[11]

Terrio has also been hired by Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush to write the script for the drama A Murder Foretold, based on an article in The New Yorker by David Grann revolving around a number of high-profile murders in Guatemala.[12] Terrio hopes to direct his own screenplay.

Terrio has completed the adaptation of Harlan Coben's novel, Tell No One, for Warner Bros., with Ben Affleck also being attached to direct.[13] There has already been a French film directed by Guillaume Canet based on the novel.

Other work

Terrio has also edited the documentary short First Out.

He has worked on the Ivory–Merchant films (directed by James Ivory) Le Divorce and The Golden Bowl. He was also previously an assistant to Ivory.

Terrio also served as an assistant director on the short film Equation, directed by Anuj Majumdar, and was also a grip on the short film Awake, directed by Lori Lovoy-Goran, who won a DGA Student Film Award and a SXSW Competition Award for her documentary short film In Between Days.


Year Film Director Producer Writer Screenplay Notes
2002 Book of Kings Yes Yes Yes Yes
2002 Equation Yes No No No Assistant director to director Anuj Majumdar
2005 Heights Yes No No Yes
2006 First Out No No No No Edited the documentary
2010 Damages Yes Yes Yes No TV series; Episode "I Look Like Frankenstein"
2012 Argo No No No Yes Won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay
2016 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice No No No Yes Hired to re-write the script written by David S. Goyer
2017 Justice League No No No Yes
2019 Untitled Justice League sequel No No Yes No Story elements only
TBA A Murder Foretold No No Yes Yes
TBA Tell No One No No Yes Yes


  1. Pulver, Andrew (February 25, 2013). "Oscars 2013: Chris Terrio wins best adapted screenplay for Argo". The Guardian. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  2. Finke, Nikki (February 17, 2013). "WGA Awards Winners: 'Zero Dark Thirty's Mark Boal, 'Argo's Chris Terrio, 'Breaking Bad', 'Louie', 'Girls', 'Portlandia', 'Searching For Sugar Man's Malik Bendjelloul (LIVE)". Deadline. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  3. 1 2 Benson, Sheila (October 9, 2006). "Chris Terrio". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  4. Fox, Michael. "Heights Director Taps into Jewish Neuroses". interfaithfamily. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  5. "Affleck Responds to Why a Non-Latino (Him) Played Latino Hero in ARGO". Latino Rebels. December 11, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  6. Peterson, Susan (February 27, 1997). "New Scholarship Brings Harvard-Cambridge Total to Four". Harvard Gazette. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  7. Mapes, Marty (June 26, 2005). "Interview with Chris Terrio". Movie Habit. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  8. "Hot Sheet August 2012". USC Cinematic Arts. August 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  9. Buchanan, Kyle (December 20, 2012). "The Toughest Scene I Wrote: Screenwriter Chris Terrio on Argo". Vulture. Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  10. Siegel, Tatiana (December 18, 2013). "Batman-Superman Film Enlists 'Argo' Writer (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  11. Kroll, Justin (July 25, 2014). "Warners Eyes Chris Terrio for 'Justice League'". Variety.
  12. Fleming Jr., Mike (October 13, 2011). "Chris Terrio To Write 'A Murder Foretold' For Paramount And Indian Paintbrush". Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  13. Fleming Jr., Mike (June 15, 2011). "Ben Affleck To Turn French-Flavored Harlan Coben Novel 'Tell No One' Into Feature". Retrieved October 5, 2014.

External links

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