Allen and Albert Hughes (1972- )

Hughes Brothers at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con promoting The Book of Eli, July 28, 2009
Courtesy Natasha Baucas (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Allen and Albert Hughes are American film directors and producers, known for works such as Menace Society II and The Book of Eli. Albert was born minutes before Allen on April 1, 1972 to an African-American father, Albert Hughes, and Armenian-American mother, Aida, in Detroit, Michigan.

Their parents divorced when they were two years old and their mother took them to Pomona, California when they were nine. Supportive of Allen and Albert’s ambitions to be filmmakers, she provided them with a video camera when they were twelve years old. Consequently, the brothers spent much time making short films. During their freshman year of high school, they took his first TV production class in which they made a short film titled “How to be a Burglar” for a class assignment. At the age of eighteen the brothers dropped out of high school.

After high school graduation in 1991, Albert began taking classes at Los Angeles City College’s Film School; thus, in their work, Allen typically worked with the actors while Albert handled the technical aspects. Soon afterwards, they began filming music videos, directing for artists like Tone Loc and Tupac Shakur.

In 1993, Allen and Albert’s first film, Menace II Society, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Focusing on black, disenfranchised youth, it became a critical and box office success as it grossed nearly ten times the three-million-dollar budget. In fact, it won Best Movie at the MTV Movie Awards in 1994.

During this same year Allen and Albert took Tupac Shakur to court after he assaulted them during a music video shoot. He was sentenced for 15 days in jail for the assault as well as another incident. In 1995, they premiered their second film, Dead Presidents, at the New York Critics Film Festival. The film, which depicted the black underclass, failed to impress the critics or make a profit. Their next film, American Pimp, released in 1999 at the Sundance Film Festival, was equally unsuccessful. In between these projects, the Hughes brothers filmed anti-handgun public service announcements which seemed at odds with their films.

In the new century, the brothers departed from earlier work by co-directing From Hell, a film adaption of the graphic novel of the same name about Jack the Ripper in 2001. Shortly after, in 2004, Albert moved to the Czech Republic to live with his long-time girlfriend, and Allen embarked on his solo career.

In 2004, Allen directed episodes of the American version of the TV series Touching Evil and the 2005 television feature Knights of the South Bronx. Later, in 2009, he directed a segment of New York, I Love You, starring Bradley Cooper and Drea De Matteo.

The following year, 2010, the brothers reunited to co-direct The Book of Eli, a post-apocalyptic drama starring Denzel Washington.  Later, in 2013, Allen directed Broken City starring Mark Wahlberg and Russel Crowe. In the same year, Albert announced he would be producing an online video series called The 7 Wonders of Crisis 3. Allen’s latest work was a four-part HBO documentary miniseries about Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre that was released in 2017 called The Defiant Ones for which he won Best Music Film in the Grammy awards in 2018. Also, after many years Albert began directing again with the prehistoric film Alpha and another feature The Fury of a Patient Man in 2018.

Allen has a son, Eric Alexander-Hughes, and Albert has a daughter. They live in the Los Angeles area.