He was born in 1953 in Keene, New Hampshire, USA. He earned his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.
Rodat began his screenwriting career with the television feature The Comrades of Summer in 1992. The HBO film starred Joe Mantegna as a baseball coach teaching the game to a Russian team.
He co-wrote the film Tall Tale (1995) with Steve Bloom. The fantasy Western film starred Patrick Swayze. It was a financial failure and did not recoup its $32,000,000 budget.
He was a writer for the film Fly Away Home (1996) alongside Vince McKewin based on the real story of Bill Lishman. The film follows a girl (played by Anna Paquin) and her father (Jeff Daniels) teaching a flock of geese a migration route. The film was a critical and commercial success.
He wrote the television feature The Ripper in 1997. The film was directed by Janet Meyers and starred Patrick Bergin. It re-examined the story of the famous London serial killer.
He wrote the epic war film Saving Private Ryan (1998). The film was directed by Steven Spielberg and set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It starred Tom Hanks as a US Army Rangers Captain searching for a soldier who is the last surviving member of a large family. The film was well received by audiences and garnered considerable critical acclaim, winning several awards for film, cast, and crew as well as earning significant returns at the box office. Spielberg won a second Best Director Oscar for the film. Rodat was nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Saving Private Ryan. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe, a Satellite Award, a Writers Guild of America Award and a Humanitas Prize for the film.
He wrote the 1999 television feature 36 Hours to Die. The film starred Treat Williams as a businessman fighting back against organized crime extortion and aired on TNT.
He wrote the War of Independence film The Patriot (2000). The film starred Mel Gibson and was directed by Roland Emmerich. It was reasonably well received but was criticized for massive historical inaccuracies. It was a moderate commerical success, recouping its $110,000,000 budget.
He did an uncredited rewrite of the 2008 Roland Emmerich film 10,000 BC.
Development of Falling Skies officially began in 2009, when TNT announced that it had ordered a pilot for an untitled alien invasion project. Rodat wrote the pilot episode from an idea which was co-conceived by Spielberg. Originally, Falling Skies was called Concord, referencing the Battles of Lexington and Concord and Tom Mason's profession as a former History Professor. Spielberg then came up with the title Falling Skies. "I felt that this was a very interesting postapocalyptic story with a 21st century [spin on the] spirit of '76. I came up — out of the blue one day — with the name Falling Skies, which is basically what happens to the planet after this invasion. What is unique about this particular series is that the story starts after a successful conquest of the world," he stated. Spielberg was attracted to the project due to its themes of survival. "I've always been interested in how we survive and how resourceful we are as Americans. How would the survivors feed the children? How do they resupply themselves militarily in order to defend and even take back what they have lost?" he added. Like much of Spielberg's work, such as The Pacific and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Falling Skies' running theme is family and brotherhood. He explained, "It's a theme I harken back to a lot because it's something I believe in. It's something I have the closest experience with. [Laughs] They say write what you know, and with seven children and three sisters... I tend to always come back to the family as a touchstone for audiences to get into these rather bizarre stories."
While writing the pilot, Rodat dedicated a five page montage to the alien invasion, but decided not to go through with it as it had been done before in films such as War of the Worlds. "I wrote a few drafts of it and I looked at and say, 'Ay-yay-yay, I’ve seen this before. There’s no emotion to this. It feels like one of those montages,'" he said. Rodat came up with the idea of having the children in the series "harnessed by aliens". "When we were working out the initial stuff, the thing that excited [Spielberg] was the idea that adults are killed if they’re a threat, and kids are captured for whatever reason and changed or altered. The harness was a logical outgrowth of that. Then what we’ll explore is what the harnessing does to the kid over the course of the show but that also is something that’s going to have to unveil itself gradually," he stated.
The pilot episode was directed by Carl Franklin although Spielberg remained involved in the casting and reviewing dailies from the set. Rodat was nominated for the SFX magazine award for Best New Series in 2011 for Falling Skies.
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