Born in New York City, Jon Favreau began his career with appearances in independent films and television, but has since become one of Hollywood’s most successful producers and directors. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and studied at Queens College, but prior to receiving his degree, he moved to Chicago to try his hand at improv comedy. Jon’s first roles included appearances on TV shows such as Seinfeld and Friends; his earliest film roles, such as D-Bob in the inspirational sports film Rudy (1993) and as Gutter in the college comedy PCU (1994), made him an audience favorite.
Jon’s big break came with the indie film Swingers (Miramax, 1996), for which he wrote the screenplay, starred in, and co-produced. In 2003 he directed the Will Ferrell hit Elf, and his stature as a director was further confirmed.
What I learned from Iron Man was that the way you remember things can be as important as how things really were
He would go on to direct and produce several major box-office hit films for The Walt Disney Company. His directing credits include Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), and the live-action reimagining of The Jungle Book (2016). Jon has also made co-starring appearances in several Marvel Cinematic Universe films as Tony Stark’s loyal bodyguard, Happy Hogan. He also holds executive producer credits on Iron Man (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Iron Man 3 (2013), Marvel’s The Avengers (2012), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
Jon says that Iron Man was a life-changing experience for him: “The best way to describe it would be that we were building the hot rod while we were racing it.” He further explains that these movies are truly a product of the creative process. “[They] never actually lock a script until they’re shot and cut. They require an incredible amount of gut instinct and many talented collaborative partners. These types of movies are not made from a script as much as a mélange of storyboards, notes on cocktail napkins, dialogue scrawled on the back of the day’s sides, and keyframe drawings hung on the set for inspiration. The movie is slowly culled from both written and drawn elements that together inform the story.”
Former Marvel Comics creative leader and Disney Legend Stan Lee once said, “Jon Favreau is so multitalented. He acts, he writes, he directs, and he makes everything he does seem easy. In the times I went to the set, I’ve never gotten a feeling of stress or crisis or urgency. He just made it all seem like it was the smoothest, easiest thing in the world. I think that feeling affected the cast and the crew, and it made everybody enjoy what they were doing and give their best.”
“What I learned from Iron Man was that the way you remember things can be as important as how things really were,” Jon once said. So for his Jungle Book, he observed, “We embrace the mythic qualities of Kipling in the more intense tonal aspects of the film, but we left room for what we remember from the ’67 film and sought to maintain those charming Disneyesque aspects.” Jon has also voiced characters in various Disney television shows and feature films, including Hercules (TV, 1999), Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (TV, 2000), G-Force (2009), Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TV, 2010-2013), and, most recently, the CG pilot Rio Durant in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).
He also produced and directed Disney’s 2019 photo-realistic reimagining of The Lion King and is currently writing and executive producing The Mandalorian, the live-action Star Wars television series for the upcoming Disney+ streaming service.