Oh it’s good to be a blockbuster director who has helmed not one, not two, but three Dwayne Johnson-headlining box office (and streaming) behemoths. It’s especially great if you’re a giant gaming nerd and you get to not only direct the film version of your favorite game—Tom Clancy’s The Division, due to start filming later this year—but also get to have your name added to another favorite: Madden ’19, ’20, ’21, and ’22. Rawson Thurber QB. Bucket list item 1, check. Bucket list item 2, check, check.
How does a Bay-area native get to such great gaming heights? First, by having a short film—Terry Tate, Office Linebacker, accepted to the Sundance Film Festival. Then, following that up by becoming an acclaimed Super Bowl commercial director. And, obviously, by directing one of the most beloved and most quotable comedies pretty much ever, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story—starring in-their-prime comedy golden boys Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, and which has the distinct honor of being summed up on Rotten Tomatoes as, “Proudly profane and splendidly silly” (possibly the best review of a comedy ever).
Then, perhaps, by writing, directing, and co-producing three record-breakers starring none other than the biggest movie star in the world—2016’s Central Intelligence, which became the #1 live-action film of that year, 2018’s Skyscraper, which became the #1 movie in the world and the second grossing original film of that year, and then the recently released Red Notice—which just made industry history as Netflix’s biggest opening weekend ever. Without boring you with complicated Netflix math, let’s put it this way: more people watched Red Notice on its opening weekend than watched Avengers Endgame on its opening weekend, which was until now the biggest opening three days ever at $1.2B worldwide. In terms of viewership, it’s on the road to becoming the most watched movie in the history of film.
That should just about do the trick. Below, Rawson Marshall Thurber shares 5 of his all-time favorite video games.
“I love video games. Always have. From Ten Yard Fight on the original Nintendo console to Star Wars Galaxies—before the combat upgrade, boo!—to anything Tom Clancy on my Xbox X, I’ve always found escape in gaming. A way to turn my mind off—to silence the work day, the script, or movie problems I’m working out—and just enjoy a completely immersive, rewarding, joyful experience whether that’s for an hour on the digital gridiron in my Madden Connected Franchise or multiple hours running missions and quests with friends. Gaming allows my mind to relax and my body to unwind. Here are some of my favorite games.”
THE DIVISION 1 & 2
“My favorite console game ever. I’ve been playing The Division since it released in 2016. But before that, I waited in line for three hours at E3 in 2013 just to catch a glimpse of the game when it was still in development. I play it every Tuesday night with three other buddies—kind of like a bowling league. That’s why I was absolutely overjoyed and floored when the opportunity arose for me to adapt and direct the feature film for Ubisoft. The feature film will star Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain. I’m doing a quick pass on the script, and we plan to start shooting within the year.”
“I’ve been a football junkie since I was eight years-old. I’ve played every single version of digital football from way back in the Mac II SE days. EA’s College Football got me through college and through the better part of my young adult life. Once it was discontinued, I switched to Madden and have enjoyed it thoroughly since. Madden has, in fact, given me the coolest moment of my filmmaking career—they were kind enough to put me in the game. No joke. If you fire up Madden ’19, ’20, ’21, or ’22, there I am as a free agent: Rawson Thurber QB (36 overall—ouch!). I consulted on their first-person narrative game Longshot back in 2018. And, in lieu of a consultation fee, I only asked that they put me in the game. They said yes, and I’ve never been happier with a deal in my life. If you put me in your line-up, the announcers will say my name and everything. Pretty cool.”
GHOST RECON WILDLANDS
“Tom Clancy’s GRW is just a blast. Tactical, fun, challenging—everything I want in a co-op based shooter. The missions in Bolivia are simple without ever feeling simplistic, and there are so many ways you can attempt to accomplish your objective. I really appreciate a game that’s made with such care and specificity. It’s not trying to be all things to all gamers. It just does what it does really well. And it’s a helluva lot of fun.”
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
“Maybe the most beautiful game I’ve ever played, though The Division gives it a run for its money. The first-person narrative storyline is astoundingly well written and performed, and I’m not sure there’s ever been a deeper, more complex, more heartbreaking anti-hero than Arthur Morgan. As someone who tells stories for a living, I tip my cap and then some to the folks behind RDR2. I also love playing in the online world. When I need a change of pace from the high octane world of cover-based co-op shooters, I like to saddle up and ride the trails.”
GHOST RECON BREAKPOINT
“Just started this one. I was skeptical at first, but have really gotten into it as of late. Similar to GRW, but not exactly the same. After exhausting everything there was to do in Wildlands (Sam Fisher, the Predator, El Sueño himself, obvi), it’s been fun to continue the adventure in Breakpoint.”
CHECK OUT RAWSON
As Director of Red Notice
As Director of Skyscraper
As Director of Central Intelligence
As Director of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story