By transitioning successfully from an investigative journalist to an elite Hollywood screenwriter, Mark Boal possesses the unique combination of an unyielding ability to research, interview, and communicate compelling stories to a worldwide audience. That tenacity has rewarded Boal in the very first film he wrote and co-produced, The Hurt Locker, with Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture in 2009. Boal also earned top writing prizes at the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice Awards, BAFTA and WGA the same year, a distinguished honor in any capacity. In his 2012 film, Zero Dark Thirty, Boal reunites with his award winning partner, Kathryn Bigelow, to further establish himself as a unique storyteller who draws from his personal, frontline experiences to tell a modern war story. In 2013, Boal was once again honored with several award nominations for Zero Dark Thirty including the Writers Guild, Producers Guild, BAFTA, and the Academy Awards.
Boal is currently a producer and co-host of the second season of the Peabody-Award-winning podcast Serial, alongside show creator Sarah Koenig. This season investigates the controversial Beau Bergdahl case, which Boal had been researching for a future film based on the story. Boal’s interviews with Bergdahl play a key role in the season’s story arc.
Boal’s latest film, Zero Dark Thirty, has been taglined as “The Greatest Manhunt in History.” Reuniting with his director and co-producer from The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty chronicles the real life operation that led to the capture and elimination of Osama Bin Laden. Boal and Bigelow spent years researching and interviewing key members of the U.S. military and intelligence operatives responsible in accomplishing this decade-long mission.
In 2004, during a chaotic, deadly month in Iraq, Boal embedded himself with members of an Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit. “What many people don’t know is that although Baghdad was horrifically dangerous in those years, it could have been a lot worse,” Boal explains. “On any given day, for every bomb that exploded in the city, there were probably ten or fifteen that didn’t detonate because of a few, secretive bomb squads that were in there.”
Boal adds, “Army bomb technicians were thrust into a role that they had never played before in any other war. And they quickly became the key strategic unit in the attempt to stem the growing tide of roadside bombs that were turning the city into an incredibly lethal, unpredictable and insane environment.”
Their harrowing daily experiences led Boal to consider that the account of these young men who save lives and risk their own by disarming deadly bombs, planted in population centers, might best be appreciated in a fictional telling set in a terrifyingly real world. Boal pitched the idea to filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, Strange Days), whom he had met in 2002.
Boal, who majored in Philosophy, graduated with honors from Oberlin College. At age 23 he wrote an acclaimed Village Voice series of articles about the rise of surveillance in America, which led to him writing a weekly column for the paper, entitled ‘The Monitor.’ He subsequently covered politics, technology, crime and the youth and drug cultures in stories for a variety of national publications, including Rolling Stone, Brill’s Content, Mother Jones, and Playboy, among others.
"Mark Boal was absolutely everything for which we could have hoped. He was charming, gracious, witty, forthright, down-to-earth, go-with-the-flow, insightful, articulate, and a whole lot of fun to have around!"- Asst. Professor of English, United States Air Force Academy
"He was awesome! Down-to-earth, relatable and informative. Everyone was very pleased. Thank you for all your help!"- Hungry Man