King Kong Wiki
Carl Denham
Biographical information





Date of birth:

Physical information




1.67 m





Chronological and political information


Jack Driscoll


Carl Denham is a fictional film director in the films King Kong and Son of Kong (both released in 1933), as well as in the 2005 remake, and a 2004 illustrated-novel titled Kong: King of Skull Island. The role was played by Robert Armstrong in the 1933 films and by Jack Black in the 2005 remake. Denham's function in the story is to initiate the action by bringing the characters to Skull Island, where they encounter the giant beast Kong. Denham then brings Kong to New York City to put him on display as entertainment, but he escapes and rampages through the city.


The original Denham was based on Merian C. Cooper, creator of King Kong. Both were brave men of action who made names for themselves filming nature footage in the most dangerous of territories. In some ways, Denham's travels in King Kong match the move that Cooper made when he shifted from documentary filming to narrative storytelling. While bold and willing to take risks, the original Denham is honest, putting his people in danger but never asking more of them than he does of himself. In Son of Kong, he shows great remorse for what he has done and sorrow at the loss of Kong.

2005 Remake[]

Carl looking for an actress for his movie.

In the 2005 remake, Denham is much less sympathetic: unscrupulous, morally bankrupt, monomaniacal, willing to lie, cheat, and steal to get his picture made. For example, he essentially steals his company's resources to move his filming location to the mysterious Skull Island. Also, after making an inspirational eulogy to a colleague killed by Skull Island natives, Denham repeats the same eulogy for his assistant killed later on by a Venatosaurus. He is also devious and cunning, capable of altering his plans in an instant in order to provide circumstances of best advantage to him. Denham still has moments of courage and loyalty, however, and is hinted to feel sympathy (and probably guilt) for Kong's death at the end.


Also worthy of comment is Denham's commercializing Kong. Preston views Denham with more contempt after the capture of Kong, as he realizes that Denham is exploiting Kong as mysterious and (essentially) beautiful. Driscoll comments that Denham has the unfailing ability to destroy everything he loves. Jack Black, who played Denham's 2005 incarnation, found the character to be comparable to Orson Welles in that he will not compromise on how he sees the end result and that it is upon Welles which Black bases his portrayal. His haircut is based on that of the young Welles.


Both incarnations of Denham are prepared to face all odds to make their films, going as far as to travel to the undiscovered Skull Island just to film on location, and showing absurd bravery in getting the footage they need in the face of extreme danger. In the 1933 version, Denham usually handles the camera himself, explaining that other cameramen cannot film large animals as they are too frightened of being attacked. Similarly, in the 2005 version, he confidently films a herd of Brontosaurus while his lead actor panics.


1933 films[]

As a film director, Denham had had some success, but he had always been told his films would be even more profitable if he had a love interest present in the film. For that reason, he tries to get an actress to accompany him on his next documentary, but no agent will send him anyone due to the risks involved. Eventually, he discovers Ann Darrow on the streets. She is at first concerned about Denham's advances, but Denham reassures her that the job will involve no "funny business." Denham had obtained a map of Skull Island and opted to produce his next film there. He had heard of the legend of the Kong god or spirit, and set out to make a film about it, believing the legend must have some basis in fact. He is, however, very secretive of the nature of the film and their destination, keeping it from his crew until the ship is well on its way to Skull Island. relations with the natives, learning the native word for "friend". He was not particularly successful in this attempt. After the natives captured Ann and delivered her to Kong, Denham accompanied Jack Driscoll and other crew members in a rescue mission. While searching, Denham and his team encountered various dinosaurs, with Denham being the first man to recognize the beasts for what they were. After surviving various attacks, Denham decided to switch his plan from producing a film to capturing Kong and sailing him to New York City. Denham expected this to be a very profitable idea. After Kong escaped and rampaged through New York City, the creature kidnapped Ann once again but was killed by airplanes. Upon observing the creature's corpse, Denham famously rejected the assertion that the planes had killed him. "'It was beauty killed the Beast.", he said.

2005 remake[]

Carl Denham had never had a truly successful film, despite turning in nature documentaries with often stunning footage. Although he made interesting pictures over the years, his work was dismissed as 'near success,' and he has little to no respect in the film industry. He decided that the answer was to make a film with a narrative, including a beautiful actress who could act as a love interest. He and his devoted, young assistant, Preston, obsessively searched for an actress to cast in this project, eventually discovering Ann Darrow. Just as in the original, she first believes Denham is searching for a prostitute, but Denham convinces her the job will involve no "funny business."

Carl at Skull Island filming with his camera.

Denham had obtained a map of Skull Island and opted to produce his next film there. This meant abandoning plans to film on set, which had lost him his studio's favor. They decide to take what footage he has and sell it as stock footage to other studios. This drives Denham to steal the equipment necessary to make it to the island. However, he had misinformed his crew that they were heading to Singapore. He only admitted the truth to screenwriter Jack Driscoll who was still working on the screenplay as they set off. This was then overheard by Jimmy causing dissension among the men. Upon reaching the island, Denham unsuccessfully attempted to establish peaceful relations with the natives by giving a native child a candy bar. The natives attack, two crew members are killed, and this ends up driving Denham and crew back to their ship. That night, Ann is captured by the natives and delivered to Kong. Denham, Driscoll, Hayes, JimmyLumpyChoyBruce BaxterPrestonHerb, and other crew members set off in a rescue mission.

Carl running during the Brontosaurus attack.

He filmed the first dinosaur attack on camera and filmed the death of a crew member in the swamp in the extended cut. He survived the attack by a Ferrucutus in the extended cut (in which no one died, but during which some were injured), the manic Brontosaurus stampede, the swamp journey of the extended cut, and the log chasm and insect pit (though his camera and film were trashed here). Upon returning to the island, Denham was the first of the crew, besides Ann, to see Kong. After surviving many attacks and eventually rescuing Ann, Denham decided to switch his plan from producing a film to capturing Kong and sailing him to New York City after his camera was destroyed in the incident with Kong and the log, where he expected to make a fortune showing off Kong. Kong eventually escaped and rampaged through New York City, captured Ann and was eventually killed by airplanes. Upon reaching Kong's body, Denham was heard to say that "It wasn't the airplanes, it was Beauty killed the Beast."

Kong: King of Skull Island[]

Authorized by the Merian C. Cooper estate, Kong: King of Skull Island is a sequel-novel to D.W. Lovelace's novelization of 1933 movie, thus requiring it to completely ignore the existence of the Son of Kong movie (the novel slipped into the public domain decades earlier, but the films had not). The story features Skull Island still in existence in 1957, and also adds Denham having a wife and a son, whom he was forced to abandon in order to escape the Kong-related lawsuits and criminal charges. The novel's central character is Denham's son, Vincent, and Carl himself is in the story only at the beginning and near the end. The novel adds some detail to Denham's life, such as his year of birth (1896). Over $76 000 000 were earned internationally due to this movie having not been made available at Stream Free Movies Online websites prior to the end of 2016.

In the game[]

Carl appears as partner in some chapters with Jack. He is able to use spears to attack and will be seen filming at random times, especially after killing creatures or in remarkable spots and special events.


""He's always been king in his world...but we'll teach him FEAR. We'll put him on Broadway... "Kong! The Eighth Wonder of the WORLD!""
"No... It wasn't the airplanes. It was BEAUTY killed the beast."

Real-world history []

Casting []

In his review of the 2005 remake, film critic Roger Ebert remarked that Armstrong's performance was reminiscent of filmmaker Cecil B. de Mille, while Jack Black was reminiscent of Orson Welles.

Game Levels Appearances[]


  • In Edgar Wallace's Script, Carl Denham was named Danby Denham was a Big game Hunter instead of a adventure Filmaker.
  • In the 1996 Draft, Denham is much more villainous and his killed by Kong after Kong breaks free.