Jonathan Kolia Favreau (/ˈfævroʊ/; born October 19, 1966) is an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.
As an actor, Favreau has appeared in the films Rudy (1993), PCU (1994), Swingers (1996), Very Bad Things (1998), ‘’Deep Impact’’(1998),The Replacements (2000), Daredevil (2003), The Break-Up (2006), Four Christmases (2008), Couples Retreat (2009), I Love You, Man (2009), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), and Chef (2014).
As a filmmaker, Favreau has been significantly involved with the Marvel Comics franchise, particularly in collaboration with Robert Downey Jr. He directed, produced, and appeared as Happy Hogan in the films Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010). He also served as an executive producer for, and/or appeared as the character in, the films The Avengers (2012), Iron Man 3 (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), and Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019).
As a director, he also worked on the films Elf (2003), Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), Chef (2014), The Jungle Book (2016), and The Lion King (2019). Favreau is the creator of the Star Wars Disney+ original series The Mandalorian (2019–present) as well as one of its executive producers and directors. He also serves as a director and executive producer for its spin-off series The Book of Boba Fett. He produces films under his production company banner, Fairview Entertainment, and also presents the television cooking series The Chef Show.
Jonathan Kolia Favreau was born in Flushing, Queens, New York, the only child of Madeleine, an elementary school teacher who died of leukemia in 1979, and Charles Favreau, a special education teacher. His mother was Jewish (of Russian-Jewish descent), and his father is a Catholic of Italian and French-Canadian ancestry. Favreau dropped out of Hebrew school to pursue acting. However, following his mother’s death, both sides of his family worked to ensure he had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony.
Favreau graduated from The Bronx High School of Science, a school for gifted students, in 1984 and attended Queens College from 1984 to 1987, before dropping out. His friend from college, Mitchell Pollack, said that Favreau went by the nickname “Johnny Hack” because of his abilities in the game Hacky Sack. He briefly worked for Bear Stearns on Wall Street before returning to Queens College for a semester in early 1988. He dropped out of college for good (a few credits shy of completing his degree), and in the summer of 1988, moved to Chicago to pursue a career in comedy. He performed at several Chicago improvisational theaters, including the ImprovOlympic and the Improv Institute.
1992–2000: Early career
While in Chicago, Favreau landed his first film role alongside Sean Astin as tutor D-Bob in the sleeper hit Rudy (1993). Favreau met Vince Vaughn – who played a small role in this film – during shooting. The next year, he appeared in the college film PCU alongside Jeremy Piven, and the 1994 episode of Seinfeld titled “The Fire” as Eric the Clown.
Favreau then moved to Los Angeles, where he made his breakthrough in 1996 as an actor-screenwriter with the film Swingers, which was also Vaughn’s breakthrough role as the character Trent Walker, a foil to Favreau’s heartbroken Mike Peters. In 1997, he appeared on the television sitcom Friends, portraying Pete Becker – Monica Geller’s millionaire boyfriend who competes in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – for several episodes. Favreau made appearances in the sketch-comedy series, Tracey Takes On… in both 1996 and 1997.
Favreau landed the role of Gus Partenza in Deep Impact (1998), and that same year rejoined Piven in Very Bad Things (1998). In 1999, he starred in the television film Rocky Marciano, based on the life of world heavyweight champion, Rocky Marciano. He later appeared in Love & Sex (2000), co-starring Famke Janssen. Favreau appeared in 2000’s The Replacements as maniacal linebacker Daniel Bateman, and that same year he played himself in The Sopranos episode “D-Girl”, as a Hollywood director who feigns interest in developing mob associate Christopher Moltisanti’s screenplay in order to collect material for his own screenplay.
In 2001, he made his film directorial debut with another self-penned screenplay, Made. Made once again teamed him up with his Swingers co-star Vince Vaughn. Favreau also starred in a TV series called Dinner for Five, which aired on the cable TV channel IFC from 2001-2005.
He was a guest-director for an episode of the college dramedy Undeclared in 2001, and Favreau got some screen time as lawyer Foggy Nelson in the 2003 movie Daredevil (2003) (considerably more in the director’s cut version). He also starred in The Big Empty (2003), directed by Steve Anderson. His character was John Person, an out of work actor given a strange mission to deliver a blue suitcase to a man named Cowboy in the desert. Favreau is credited as a screenwriter for the 2002 film The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest.
In the fall of 2003, he scored his first financial success as a director of the hit comedy Elf starring Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, James Caan, and Peter Dinklage. Also in 2003, Favreau had a small part in Something’s Gotta Give (a film starring Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson); Favreau played Leo, Harry Sanborn’s (Nicholson) personal assistant, who visited Harry in the hospital. In 2005, Favreau directed the film adaptation of the children’s book Zathura. Favreau continued to make regular appearances in film and television. He reunited with friend Vaughn in the romantic comedy The Break-Up and appeared in My Name Is Earl as a reprehensible fast food manager. Favreau also made a guest appearance in Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show.
Also in 2005, Favreau appeared as a guest judge and executive representative of Sony Corporation in week five of NBC primetime reality TV business show, The Apprentice. He was called upon to judge the efforts of the show’s two teams of contestants, who were assigned the task of designing and building a float to publicize his 2005 Sony Pictures movie, Zathura: A Space Adventure.
On April 28, 2006, it was announced that Favreau was signed to direct the long-awaited Iron Man movie. Released on May 2, 2008, the film was a huge critical and commercial success, solidifying Favreau’s reputation as a director.
Iron Man was the first Marvel-produced movie under their alliance with Paramount, and Favreau served as the director and an executive producer. During early scenes in Iron Man, Favreau appears as Tony Stark’s driver, Happy Hogan. He wrote two issues of a planned mini-series for Marvel Knights titled Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas, that debuted in September 2008 before being canceled in November 2008. Favreau also directed and executive produced the film’s sequel, Iron Man 2. Favreau said in December 2010 that he would not direct Iron Man 3 but remain an executive producer.
Favreau was the third director attached to John Carter, the film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ swashbuckling space hero. While he did not ultimately direct it, he did appear in a cameo in the film, as a bookie.
In 2008, he played Denver, a bully-type bigger brother to Vaughn in Four Christmases. Favreau co-starred in 2009’s Couples Retreat, a comedy chronicling four couples who partake in therapy sessions at a tropical island resort, which he wrote. The film saw him co-star with Vaughn again, while Kristin Davis played his wife.
He voices the character Pre Vizsla, the leader of the Mandalorian Death Watch, in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
In September 2009, he signed up to direct Cowboys & Aliens based on the graphic novel of the same name created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The science fiction Western film was released in 2011, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, and is considered to be a financial disappointment, taking $174.8 million in box office receipts on a $163 million budget and received mixed reviews, with critics generally praising its acting while criticizing other aspects.
In 2012, Favreau directed the pilot for the NBC show Revolution, and served as one of the show’s executive producers, alongside J. J. Abrams.
In 2013, he filmed a pilot for a TV series based on the novel About a Boy, but set in San Francisco. He also directed the Destiny trailer “The Law of the Jungle”.
In 2014, Favreau wrote, co-produced, directed, and starred in Chef. Favreau played a chef who, after a public altercation with a food critic, quits his job at a popular Los Angeles restaurant to operate a food truck with his young son. It co-stars Sofía Vergara, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale and Dustin Hoffman, along with Robert Downey Jr. in a cameo role. Favreau wrote the script after directing several big-budget films, wanting to go “back to basics” and to create a film about cooking. It was well-received by critics, who praised the direction, music, writing, story, and performances grossing $45 million against a production budget of $11 million.
In 2016, Favreau directed and produced the live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, for Walt Disney Pictures, which was released on April 15, 2016 to critical and commercial acclaim. He returned as Happy Hogan in the film Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), and co-executive produced Avengers: Infinity War (2018). Favreau filmed a scene for Avengers: Infinity War, but was cut, ending up on the Blu-Ray release. In 2017, Favreau directed the pilot episode of CBS’ Young Sheldon.
In 2018, Favreau appeared in Solo: A Star Wars Story voicing Rio Durant, “a very cool and important alien character” and member of Beckett’s crew.
In the 2019 film Avengers: Endgame, Favreau reprised his role as Happy Hogan in a cameo near the end of the film. The film, directed by the Russo brothers, was executive-produced by Favreau. Avengers: Endgame was released on April 26, 2019. In 2019, Favreau also appeared in the sequel to Homecoming, Spider-Man: Far From Home.
In September 2016, it was reported that Favreau would direct a CGI adaptation of Disney’s The Lion King, marking his first time directing a musical. Donald Glover voiced Simba, and James Earl Jones reprised his role as Mufasa from the original film. The film was released in July 2019. On July 29, The Lion King surpassed The Jungle Book to become Favreau’s highest-grossing film as director, while also surpassing the original film. Simultaneous with his directorial projects, he worked as a consultant on 24 episodes of The Orville from 2017 to 2019.
In May 2019, it was also announced that Favreau would co-host and executive produce a cooking show for Netflix along with co-host Roy Choi, called The Chef Show. It premiered in June 2019.
On March 8, 2018, Lucasfilm announced that Favreau would executive produce and write a live-action Star Wars television series, titled The Mandalorian, for Disney+. The series premiered in November 12, 2019, alongside the streaming service and was co-produced by Favreau’s production company Golem Creations.
In April 2016, it was reported that Favreau would return to direct the sequel to The Jungle Book, his critically acclaimed live-action adaptation of the animated film of the same name. Early pre-production of the sequel had begun by June 12, 2018, with Justin Marks, who wrote the previous film, having ended an early draft for the film.
In May 2019, it was announced that Favreau would produce the documentary series Prehistoric Planet alongside the BBC Natural History Unit for Apple TV+.
Favreau has a chapter giving advice in Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans.
A motion-captured animated film titled Neanderthals was in development at Sony Pictures Animation in the mid-2000s that Favreau would have written and produced, but the project was cancelled sometime in 2008 after four years in development.
In November 2010, it was reported that Favreau will direct a film titled Magic Kingdom, based on The Walt Disney Company’s theme park of the same name. In July 2012, Favreau reported officially that he was working on the film. In 2014, he stated that he still had interest in the project, and that he could direct it after finishing filming The Jungle Book.
In November 2012, it was said that Favreau was being considered to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens, along with David Fincher, Brad Bird, Matthew Vaughn and Ben Affleck, but J. J. Abrams was selected to direct the film. In June 2015, Favreau stated that although he would not be working on the Star Wars anthology films, he could work on future Star Wars movies at some point. Favreau later worked with the space-based franchise on the live action series the Mandalorian.
On September 28, 2013, Mental Floss reported that at one point, Favreau tried to direct a sequel to his film Elf, titled Elf 2: Buddy Saves Christmas, but it was later cancelled. In December 2013, Will Ferrell stated that he didn’t want to make a sequel to Elf. Despite this, during an interview in January 2016, Favreau stated that a sequel could possibly be made. The next month however, Ferrell reiterated that it’s unlikely that the sequel will happen and that he still didn’t want to return to the role.
Favreau married physician Joya Tillem on November 24, 2000. The couple have a son, Max Favreau (who appeared as a boy in Iron Man 2 later retconned to be a young Peter Parker), and two daughters. Tillem is the niece of lawyer/talk show host Len Tillem.
Favreau credits the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons with giving him “a really strong background in imagination, storytelling, understanding how to create tone and a sense of balance.”
Golem Creations Ltd. LLC is a television production company created by Jon Favreau on August 30, 2018. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Favreau cited his fascination with the overlap of technology and storytelling and that he gave the company its name because a golem was like technology; it could be used to protect or destroy if control was lost of it. The company most recently produced The Mandalorian television show in partnership with Lucasfilm.
|2003||Elf||New Line Cinema|
|2005||Zathura: A Space Adventure||Sony Pictures Releasing|
|2008||Iron Man||Paramount Pictures|
|2010||Iron Man 2|
|2011||Cowboys & Aliens||Universal Pictures / Paramount Pictures|
|2014||Chef||Open Road Films|
|2016||The Jungle Book||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
|2019||The Lion King|
Awards and recognition
In May 2019, it was announced that Favreau will be named a Disney Legend at the 2019 D23 Expo for his outstanding contributions to The Walt Disney Company.
|Critics’ Choice Movie Awards||2015||Best Actor in a Comedy||Chef||Nominated|
|Directors Guild of America Awards||2020||Outstanding Directing in Reality Programs||The Chef Show||Nominated|
|2021||Outstanding Directing in Dramatic Series||The Mandalorian||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing in Reality Programs||The Chef Show||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||2021||Best Television Series – Drama||The Mandalorian||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||2020||Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media||The Lion King||Nominated|
|Hugo Awards||2009||Dramatic Presentation — Long Form||Iron Man||Nominated|
|2020||Dramatic Presentation — Short Form||The Mandalorian||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||2005||Outstanding Nonfiction Series||Dinner for Five||Nominated|
|2020||Outstanding Drama Series||The Mandalorian (season 1)||Nominated|
|2021||Outstanding Drama Series||The Mandalorian (season 2)||Pending|
|Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series||The Mandalorian (episode: “Chapter 9: The Marshal”)||Pending|
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||The Mandalorian (episode: “Chapter 16: The Rescue”)||Pending|
|Producers Guild of America Awards||2021||Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama||The Mandalorian||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||2009||Best Director||Iron Man||Won|
|2016||Best Director||The Jungle Book||Nominated|
|2019||The Visionary Award||—||Won|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||2018||Lifetime Achievement Award||Won|