Alan based the TV show Oh Grow Up from a one-act play he wrote before his days as a TV writer. The play was called Bachelor Holiday.
Before Alan became a TV writer, he lived in New York for eight years as a struggling playwright. He once lived with three guys and a dog named Mom in a 100-year old brownstone in Brooklyn.
In coming up with Six Feet Under, Alan was inspired in part by Tony Richardson's 1965 satire The Loved One.
Alan has once worked as an art director at Adweek and Inside PR.
Alan was in a car accident when he was 13 years old. Her sister Mary Ann, who was celebrating her 22nd birthday that day, was the one driving and was killed.
Alan is the producer, writer and director of Towelhead, whose film rights were acquired in 2004. It is based on the novel of the same name by Alicia Erian.
In early 2007, Alan's play All That I Will Ever Be opened at the New York Theater Workshop in New York City.
Alan majored in theater, with an emphasis in acting and playwriting, at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.
Six Feet Under, which has won two Golden Globes and six Emmy Awards, is Alan's directorial debut.
In 2000, Alan won the Oscar for writing the screenplay of the film American Beauty, which also won the Oscar Best Picture.
Alan has written for stage plays such as Bachelor Holiday, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, Your Mother's Butt and Power Lunch.
Alan is openly gay and has often included gay issues or persona in his works. A particular example would be David Fisher's character in Six Feet Under.
Alan: The level of celebrity worship in our society, I think, is verging on the pathological.
Alan: I love to direct! I get really jazzed by directing, but directing is not the same kind of personal expression, the same kind of personal intimate expression that writing is.
Alan: (on the end of "Six Feet Under") I wasn't unhappy. I was emotional. It was sad. So yes, it will be hard to say goodbye to them because I've spent five years with these characters. They're like family to me. It's like you have five children, eight, nine children and they're all going off to college at the same time.
Alan: I think we have become very adept at functioning in this fast-paced, media-driven culture. I have this persona that I can just fall back into when I go to meetings or stuff like that, but not enough of our experience, I think, is real.
Alan: (on working on "American Beauty") It was the ultimate movie experience, the ultimate screenwriting experience.
Alan: Beauty is in the strangest places. A piece of garbage floating in the wind. And that beauty exists in America. It exists everywhere. You have to develop an eye for it and be able to see it.
Alan: (on his early career working on situation comedies) You just come in, you punch in the clock, you do your factory work and then you leave. On those shows, I either had to do that or I would just develop a drug habit or have a heart attack.
Alan: Life tests us in a lot of ways, and when we look back at the painful parts of our lives, yeah, they were painful, but they forced us to grow. The good times don't necessarily force us to grow.
Alan: Life isn't what happens to you in 20 years. This moment, right now, is your life.
Alan: I think you have to have a deep and fundamental acceptance of mortality to really be able to see what's beautiful in life, because beauty and truth are inextricably connected.
Alan: I'm one of those people who is equal parts brutally cynical and achingly romantic, you know? I think those two things can coexist -- it's all a question of balance. You get too cynical, it's just too nihilistic. You get too romantic, it's unrealistic.
Alan: Because life is complex and baffling and confusing, and I think that's why people love the illusion that "You know what? It can all be figured out. It's really not that difficult."
Alan: I think it's very difficult and it requires a tremendous amount of spiritual integrity and discipline to not be a narcissist in a culture that encourages it every step of the way.
Alan: Life is infinitely complex and I feel like we live in a culture that really seems to want to simplify it into sound bites and bromides, and that does not work.
Alan: The final, most fundamental acceptance of mortality is death itself. You don't really have a choice whether you're going to accept it or not.