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Roos, Don (b. 1955)  
 
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Roos wrote and directed the independently produced Happy Endings (2005), an ensemble piece set in Los Angeles. Roos deftly weaves together three stories involving ten characters who appear to be comfortably situated but who all experience emotional turmoil. The complicated lives of the group of people include instances of incest, blackmail, and a woman's seduction of both a wealthy man and his gay son.

"I tend to create these really flawed human beings," stated Roos. "They are easy to judge, but I end up forgiving them and loving them."

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Indeed, wrote reviewer David Carr, "everyone in the film careens from dispossession to redemption in the space of 128 minutes."

Along the way, a woman must wonder anew what became of the baby she gave up when she was a teen-ager, and a gay man suspects that his partner was the sperm donor who is the biological father of a lesbian couple's young son. Through the reflections on relationships by these and other characters, in Happy Endings, as in his other films, wrote Alissa Quart of Film Comment, Roos "let[s] us know that our best hope lies in the families we make, as opposed to the ones we're born into."

Roos's latest film is a distinct departure from his previous work: with Scott Frank, he wrote the screenplay for a film adaptation of John Grogan's best-seller Marley and Me (2005), the story of a rambunctious and slightly neurotic Labrador retriever puppy with a talent for creating havoc who becomes, through his loving nature and loyalty, a cherished part of the Grogan family. The film, directed by David Frankel, and starring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, immediately shot to top of the box office list upon its release in December of 2008.

Roos appeared on-screen in Lisa Ades and Lesli Klainberg's Fabulous!: The Story of Queer Cinema (2006), a documentary chronicling gay and lesbian characters and themes in films from the late 1940s through the early years of the twenty-first century.

In a 2005 panel discussion Roos opined that although there are more gay characters than ever on both the big and small screens, general audiences are not entirely comfortable accepting them as romantic figures. He further stated that he believed that it was still too risky for a lead male actor to come out as gay because "there's a very intimate relationship that the audience has with that face on the screen . . . . Until homosexuality is less disturbing to the population at large, it's distracting. The straight audience can't jump on board enough to suspend their disbelief . . . . The fear, the bigotry, runs very, very deep."

As for the future, he predicted that gay lead actors "will come out when America deserves them to come out. We can't just expect them to just take this incredible leap of faith, to not to be able to do the one thing that they love for the rest of their life because of the bigotry that's out there."

On the other hand, he stated categorically, "I think all writers should come out. We're not in front of the camera."

In Hollywood, Roos has worked not only behind the camera, but also behind the scene, as a "script doctor," called in to rescue many a foundering project. He refuses to reveal which films he has salvaged--although his contributions are an open secret in the industry--citing his gratitude to generous others who helped him early in his career.

Roos has appeared at numerous glbtq film festivals, including three at his alma mater, Notre Dame, but he severed that connection after the 2006 event, prior to which the school's president, the Reverend John Jenkins, had condemned the name of the Queer Film Festival as one that would "celebrate and promote homosexual activity" in contravention of Catholic doctrine.

"I will never come back to Notre Dame again--ever," declared Roos. "When I come here, all I feel is hate. They don't want me here. They don't want me to have my daughter [in the same house] with my boyfriend. They think I will burn in hell. Would Anne Frank go back to Bergen-Belsen?"

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