Davis Guggenheim won an Oscar in 2007 for the Al Gore climate-change documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. The following year, he directed a short biographical film about then-senator Barack Obama that aired during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Guggenheim's father, Charles, was also a documentarian who made campaign films for Democratic presidential candidates, including Robert Kennedy.
Growing up, Davis Guggenheim admired his father's films, but never wanted to do the same type of work. He struggled for years to find work in television, eventually finding success working with David Milch on shows like NYPD Blue and Deadwood.
His real dream was to direct Hollywood feature films, and he thought he had his chance with Training Day. Guggenheim worked to develop the script, sold it to Warner Bros., but insisted they cast Denzel Washington. The studio was hesitant at first, but finally agreed to bring Washington on board. Days later, Guggenheim was fired. He still doesn't know exactly why.
Feeling burned and heartbroken, Guggenheim decided he was done with Hollywood features and wanted to start making movies about people he actually liked. He got a job as an executive at Participant Media, then a fledgling production company founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Jeff Skoll. Guggenheim says he made a lousy executive, and decided to quit. But just as he was walking out the door, An Inconvenient Truth was walking in. The rest, is history.
His most recent documentary, He Named Me Malala, had a theatrical run last winter and will be available on Hulu this summer.
Davis Guggenheim, director of "He Named Me Malala," with Malala Yousafzai
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight