John Michael McDonagh

IntroBritish film director and screenwriter
Is Film producer 
Film director 
From United Kingdom 
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio 

John Michael McDonagh is an English/Irish screenwriter and film director. He wrote and directed The Guard (2011) and Calvary (2014), both films starring Brendan Gleeson. He was born in London in 1967. He is the older brother of playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh.


McDonagh made his first foray into writing and directing with The Second Death, a short film released in 2000. Next McDonagh adapted Robert Drewe’s 1991 novel Our Sunshine into the screenplay for the 2003 film Ned Kelly, which was directed by Gregor Jordan.

McDonagh gained considerable attention in 2011, with the theatrical release of his feature film directorial debut The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. The film received critical acclaim, with a 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and went on to become the most financially successful independent Irish film of all time.

In 2014, McDonagh released Calvary, a blackly comic Irish drama about a good priest tormented by his community. Brendan Gleeson plays the main character.

McDonagh returned to the crime comedy genre for his 2016 feature, War on Everyone, which stars Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña as a pair of intractable Albuquerque police detectives.


  • Ned Kelly (2003) – Writer
  • The Guard (2011) – Writer/Director
  • Calvary (2014) – Writer/Director
  • War on Everyone (2016) – Writer/Director
  • “The Guard”. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  • The Guard’ Topples ‘Barley’ to Become #1 Indie Irish Film”. IFTN. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  • Tartaglione, Nancy (9 February 2012). “Protagonist To Proffer John Michael McDonagh’s ‘Calvary’: Berlin”. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 April 2012. 
  • Debruge, Peter (2016-02-12). “Berlin Film Review: ‘War on Everyone“. Variety. Retrieved 2016-05-12. 

Future projects

Most recently McDonagh told The Hollywood Reporter “I’m currently working on Assumption, my adaptation of the book by the great Percival Everett, about a black deputy sheriff in New Mexico,” the filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter

In 2014 McDonagh said his follow-up to Calvary would be The Lame Shall Enter First, his third feature with Brendan Gleeson. The film follows a paraplegic ex-policeman in London who has developed a hatred for able-bodied people and who gets caught up in a new investigation after one of his friends is murdered. He has stated that it will be the “final one in the trilogy” and will be “an amalgamation of The Guard and Calvary“.

In 2011 McDonagh discussed developing other projects. One was War on Everyone, which had its world premiere at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival. Another was The Bonnot Gang, a period gangster film based on the true story of a group of French anarchist bank robbers who operated before World War I”. McDonagh has described this film as “a cross between The Wild Bunch and Le Samourai.” And another was Chaos Inc, a television series about a Buddhist private investigator based in Las Vegas.