Joe Gayton, ‘Hell on Wheels’ Cocreator and ‘Faster’ Screenwriter, Dies at 66

Getting his start at age 23 writing “Uncommon Valor” starring Gene Hackman, the writer spent much of his career in collaboration with brother Tony

Producers Tony Gayton, Jeremy Gold and Joe Gayton arrive at the premiere of AMC's "Hell On Wheels" held at LA Live on October 27, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images For AMC)
Joe Gayton arrives at the premiere of AMC's "Hell On Wheels" in 2011 (Credit: John Shearer/Getty Images)

Film and television writer-producer Joe Gayton, cocreator and executive producer of AMC’s “Hell on Wheels,” died May 14. He was 66 years old.

The news was confirmed to TheWrap by brother and longtime collaborator Tony Gayton, who said Joe’s death came following a four-year battle with prostate cancer.

“Joe was one of a kind. He was passionate, creative, loud, boisterous, argumentative, unfiltered, soft-hearted, hilarious and terrible at the politics of this cutthroat business,” he said in a statement. “He was a big brother, mentor, writing partner and best friend to me. Our hearts are shattered at his passing and we will miss him forever.”

Tony also revealed that his brother was working on a new television show before his death.

“This sums up Joe’s passion for this work: He loved writing and creating so much that he wrote three seasons of a half-hour comedy/drama on spec,” Tony said of Joe. “He came very close to setting it up after having written two seasons worth of material. When he failed to set it up, what did he do? He wrote another season. And he never gave up on it till the day he died.”

Joe Gayton wrote the “Uncommon Valor” script at the age of 23; the Gene Hackman-starring feature film marked his start in Hollywood. He also cowrote “Bulletproof” (1996) with Lewis Colick. The action comedy feature starred Damon Wayans and Adam Sandler.

Gayton collaborated with his brother for the majority of his career. They created and executive produced AMC series “Hell on Wheels,” which ran for five seasons. Together, the brothers developed “Southern Comfort” on Fox and “The Novice” for USA. Dwayne Johnson starred in their cowritten feature film “Faster” in 2010.

In addition to brother Tony, Joe Gayton is survived by his wife Jen Winter, step-daughter Zoë Winter and his nieces Sophia and Ella and nephew Luke.

Deadline first reported the news of Gayton’s death.