Writers The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters  

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Sometimes a writer sticks to a general style or genre, and do it so well they become the icon of that genre. Like Charlie Kaufman, Alexander Payne, M. Night Shymalan or JJ Abrams. What if we told you that one of the worst films ever made (Alien Resurrection) was the work of one of the most acclaimed screenwriters of our time? Or that Charlie Kaufman wrote a (not at all meta) slapstick 80's sitcom? How about M. Night the one-time king of suspense and twists Shymalan, writing Stuart Little? (Yes, that Stuart Little) Turns out even the most prestigious and specific writers can still surprise us.
 
There are also people in the film industry that you didn't even realize were also writers! Carrie Fisher, Star Wars' Carrie Fisher, makes an appearance on this list. And you know the work she's done never knowing it was her. As does the lead of The Leftovers/the bad guy from Charlie's Angels 2 & Your Highness... and he's written some of the best comedies ever made.

This is a list of movies to remind you that screenwriters can completely surprise you (as can actors you didn't realize were writers). These are the most surprising movies written by some of Hollywood's most acclaimed screenwriters!

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J.J. Abrams is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
J.J. Abrams

What he is known for: Star Trek, Alias, Lost, Mission: Impossible 3, Super 8

Films you didn't know he wrote: Armageddon, Joy Ride, Gone Fishin', Forever Young

2
26 3
Roald Dahl is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Roald Dahl

What he is known for: Countless books from your childhood - BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, etc.

Film that you didn't know he wrote:
 You Only Live Twice (yes, the James Bond film)

3
29 5
Carrie Fisher is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Carrie Fisher

What she is known for: Playing Princess Leia in Star Wars

Films that you didn't know she wrote: Ghost wrote on Lethal Weapon 3, Hook, Sister Act, Last Action Hero, The Wedding Singer, Coyote Ugly and Scream 3 

4
23 9
Vince Gilligan is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Vince Gilligan

What he is known for: Creator of Breaking Bad and writer of The X-Files.

Films that you didn't know he wrote: Hancock, Wilder Napalm

5
19 7
M. Night Shyamalan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
M. Night Shyamalan

What he is known for: Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable, The Happening

Films that you didn't know he wrote: 
Stuart Little 

6
16 7
Justin Theroux is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Justin Theroux

What he is known for: The Leftovers, Charlie's Angels 2, American Psycho, Mulholland Drive, Six Feet Under, etc.

Films you didn't know he wrote: Tropic Thunder, Rock of Ages, Zoolander 2

7
13 5
Joss Whedon is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Joss Whedon

What he is known for: Buffy, Firefly, The Avengers, many others

Films you didn't know he wrote: Alien Resurrection and Waterworld

8
10 7
James Gunn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
James Gunn What he is known for: Guardians of the Galaxy, Super, Slither

Films that you didn't know he wrote: Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Tromeo and Juliet

9
11 9
Jim Rash is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Jim Rash

What he is known for: Playing Dean Pelton on Community, being on Glee and Reno 911

Films that you didn't know he wrote: 
The Descendents (which he won an Oscar for) and The Way Way Back

10
6 8
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Roman Polanski What he is known for: Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist (which he directed)

Films that you didn't know he wrote:
 Pirates, The Ninth Gate

11
5 7
William Monahan is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
William Monahan

What he is known for: The Departed, Kingdom of Heaven, The Gambler

Films that you didn't know he wrote: 
London Boulevard and Body of Lies

12
4 7
Michael Chabon is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Michael Chabon

What he is known for: Wonder Boys, The Adventures of Caviler and Clay

Films that you didn't know he wrote: 
Spider-Man 2 and John Carter

13
3 6
Alec Berg is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Alec Berg

What he is known for: Seinfeld, Curb your Enthusiasm, Silicon Valley

Films that you didn't know he wrote:
 Dr. Seuss' 
Cat in the Hat and The Dictator

14
4 8
JD Shapiro is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
JD Shapiro What he is known for: Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Films that you didn't know he wrote:
 
Battlefield Earth

15
3 11
Steve Koren is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Steve Koren What he is known for: Saturday Night Live (some of the golden years, '91-'98), Seinfeld, Bruce Almighty 
 

Films that you didn't know he wrote:
 Jack and Jill and A Thousand Words

16
1 7
Charlie Kaufman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Charlie Kaufman

What he is known for: Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Television that you didn't know he wrote:
 Get a Life 

17
1 9
Alexander Payne is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Surprising Early Work by Famous Screenwriters
Alexander Payne What he is known for: Election, Sideways, The Descendants
 

Film that you didn't know he wrote: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry