What Has Mark Boal Worked On Besides 'Serial' Season 2? The Screenwriter Is A Solid Choice To Tell Bowe Bergdahl's Story
While listening to the second season of the mind-numbingly popular podcast Serial, many people were taken aback by some of the voices and quotes featured. No, I'm not just talking about the members of the Taliban, whose words feature prominently in Serial Season 2 Episode 2 "Golden Chicken." I'm talking about the premiere episode and beyond, which borrows audio liberally from calls between Bowe Bergdahl and screenwriter Mark Boal. Sarah Koenig explains that Boal is the only person that Bergdahl has told his side of the story to in its entirety, so that Boal can use it all to create a film about the controversial soldier, and Boal is a partner for this season of Serial. But what other projects has Mark Boal done? Obviously, Serial can't be the only project to his name.
And, you're right, it's not. While Boal might not have as many credits to his name as, say, Steven Spielberg or Michael Bay, he's made many solid projects over the years — either as the direct screenwriter or as the inspiration to a screenwriter. Unsurprisingly, his history as a freelancer journalist, especially in 2004 during the Iraq War, has given him invaluable experience in the realm of military movies. After his article about the murder of Richard T. Davis, a veteran, after his return to the U.S. inspired Paul Haggis to write In The Valley of Elah, Boal went on to transition smoothly from journalism into screenwriting. Aside from being partnered with Serial Season 2, here's where you might know him from.
The Hurt Locker
The Hurt Locker was Boal's first original screenplay, and to say that people responded well to it was an understatement. The movie, the synopsis for which IMDB describes as "during the Iraq War, a Sergeant recently assigned to an army bomb squad is put at odds with his squad mates due to his maverick way of handling his work" went on two win two Oscars, not to mention a BAFTA, and a WGA Award, among other wins and nominations.
Zero Dark Thirty
Of course, the success of his first film credit was nothing compared to the success of his second. Zero Dark Thirty, the synopsis for which IMDB describes as "a chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011" won, almost won, or was nominated for so many awards that it would take me all day to list them here. Sure, it didn't win an Oscar, but it did at least snag a nomination.
Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Much like Serial, Mark Boal can also count something else under his credits for the sheer fact that he helped with story research. And that something else is Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, a video game on which Boal was one of the people consulted for "real-world military research" to improve the story and make it believable. Advanced Warfare is described on the game website as "[envisioning] the powerful battlegrounds of the future, where both technology and tactic have evolved to usher in a new era of combat."
Finally, there's Boal's next upcoming project — Serial Season 2 aside, of course. In November 2014, it was revealed that Boal was working on the screenplay for Sony's Uncharted, an upcoming video game adaptation that has been in the works for a while. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "The video game centers on a treasure hunter named Nate Drake, a descendent of explorer Sir Francis Drake, who believes he has learned the whereabouts of the fabled golden South American city El Dorado from a cursed statue. His search for El Dorado becomes competitive when a rival hunter joins the fray." This seems like a huge departure for Boal, but why put him in a box?
From 2008 to now, Boal has been working hard in Hollywood, establishing a name for himself, and is on to bigger and bigger projects such as Uncharted and the Bowe Bergdahl movie that we may yet get to see rather than just hear about on Serial. Not bad for a former journalist.