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Ron Underwood is an episode director for ABC's Once Upon a Time.


Early life

Underwood was born in Glendale, California. He studied as an American Field Service exchange student living in Ceylon Sri Lanka. After graduating from high school he briefly attended Occidental College as a pre-med student, but transferred to the University of Southern California School of Cinema after deciding to become a filmmaker. Underwood majored in cinema with a minor in anthropology.


Upon completion of his fellowship at the American Film Institute, Underwood began working as a staff director for Barr films, a company specializing in the production of educational films. While directing and producing short films for the educational market, Underwood pursued work in the motion picture industry. One of the first movies Underwood worked on was Futureworld (1976) as a production assistant. The film starred Blythe Danner and Peter Fonda, actors he would later direct himself in 2004. During the filming of Futureworld, one of his tasks was to babysit a young Gwyneth Paltrow. Another early job was acting as an assistant director to first-time director David Schmoeller on Tourist Trap, a low-budget horror film. However, after this he continued to produce educational films for the next seven years. In 1986 Underwood established himself as a director when his animated ABC Weekend Special "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" won a Peabody Award. It was followed two years later by the sequel "Runaway Ralph", for which he received a Daytime Emmy nomination.

Following his critically acclaimed venture into television, Underwood decided to direct feature films. His first effort was Tremors starring Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward and Reba McEntire in her acting debut. Written by his friends Brent Maddock & S. S. Wilson, it was released by Universal Studios in 1990. The film was well received by the critics and later established itself as a cult classic.

Underwood received his first taste of commercial success with 1991's City Slickers, which starred Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern and Jack Palance, who won an Academy Award for his performance. The film made $179m worldwide with a budget of only $27m. It was the tenth most successful film released in 1991 (the fifth most successful in the US). His next film, Heart and Souls (1993), was again well received by critics but struggled at the box office (making a total of $16m). It starred Robert Downey, Jr., Charles Grodin, Tom Sizemore, Kyra Sedgwick, Elisabeth Shue and Alfre Woodard. He followed this with Speechless (1994), with Michael Keaton and Geena Davis.

He was given the opportunity to direct big-budget film Mighty Joe Young by Walt Disney Pictures in 1998. It was a remake of the 1949 Radio Keith Orpheum (RKO) film. The film starred Charlize Theron in her first lead role. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Visual Effects and featured some of the most sophisticated special effects seen in film up to that point, paving the way for later ape films like Peter Jackson's King Kong (2005). The special effects drove production costs to around $90m, and ultimately global box-office takings fell short by about $20m.

Following Mighty Joe Young, Underwood began work on the Eddie Murphy fronted The Adventures of Pluto Nash (2002). The film also starred Rosario Dawson and was filmed in Montreal, Canada. Unfortunately for Underwood, the film was to prove an even larger box-office failure than Mighty Joe Young.

Underwood returned to his roots, directing both low-budget films and television. He directed the television feature Stealing Sinatra (2003) for Showtime, for which star William H. Macy received an Emmy nomination. He directed two episodes for the second season of Monk in 2003.

He went on to helm Back When We Were Grownups (2004) for the Hallmark Hall of Fame. It garnered star Blythe Danner Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for acting. He also directed a first-season episode of Boston Legal in fall 2004.

He directed In the Mix (2005), starring Rhythm & Blues singer Usher, Chazz Palminteri and Emmanuelle Chriqui for Lions Gate Entertainment. He returned to Boston Legal in fall 2005 to helm a further episode for the second season.

He has directed several holiday themed movies for television: Santa Baby (2006), The Year Without a Santa Claus (2006), Holiday in Handcuffs (2007), Santa Baby 2 (2009), and Deck the Halls (2011).

In the 2007 to 2008 television season he directed an episode of freshman series Reaper, a second-season episode of Ugly Betty, and a first-season episode of Eli Stone. In summer 2008 he directed three episodes for new series The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

He returned to all three series from the previous regular season in the 2008 to 2009 period; he helmed two further episodes of two further episodes for the second season of Reaper, a third-season episode of Ugly Betty, and a second-season episode of Eli Stone. He directed episodes of Drop Dead Diva and Make it or Break It in summer 2009.

In the 2009 to 2010 season he directed episodes of Heroes, Castle, and Happy Town. In the 2010 to 2011 season he directed episodes of No Ordinary Family, Chaos, and Necessary Roughness.

In the 2011 to 2012 season he joined the crew of Once Upon a Time as an episode director. He helmed the first season episode "Red-Handed". He also directed episodes of Harry's Law, Grey's Anatomy and Desperate Housewives.



External links

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