Stephen Frears

Stephen Arthur Frears (born 20 June 1941) is an English director and producer of film and television often depicting real life stories as well as projects that explore social class through sharply drawn characters.

Stephen Frears
Frears at the Odesa International Film Festival in 2014
Born
Stephen Arthur Frears

(1941-06-20) 20 June 1941 (age 81)
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
Occupation
  • Director
  • producer
Years active1968–present
Notable work
Spouses
  • (m. 1968, divorced)
  • Anne Rothenstein
    (m. 1992)
Children4

Born in Leicester and educated at Gresham's School and Trinity College, Cambridge, Frears started his career working as an assistant director in theatre and film while directing numerous television plays. In 1971, he directed his first feature film, Gumshoe. After more television work, he won acclaim for the gay romance film, My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), featuring a breakout performance from a young Daniel Day-Lewis. He continued to garner praise with Prick Up Your Ears (1987), a biographical movie about British playwright Joe Orton. He followed with the American films Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and The Grifters (1990), the latter receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Director.

In 2000, Frears adapted Nick Hornby's novel, High Fidelity, into a feature film with John Cusack, whom he had previously directed in The Grifters. In 2002, he directed the drama Dirty Pretty Things with Audrey Tautou and Chiwetel Ejiofor, which addressed the exploitation of illegal immigrant workers in London. In 2006, Frears directed The Queen, that focused on the reaction to the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997. The film received its debut at the Venice International Film Festival to critical acclaim, with Helen Mirren eventually winning many awards for playing the title role, and Frears himself received his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Frears continued to work with prominent actors such as Judi Dench in the drama Philomena (2013), based on the true story of a woman searching for a child she gave up for adoption in her youth; and Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins (2016), as a delusional socialite who embarks upon a career as opera singer despite a manifest lack of vocal talent. He also reunited with Dench in Victoria and Abdul (2017), a film about the unlikely friendship between the aging Queen Victoria and her young Indian servant, Abdul Karim.

Frears is also known for his work on various television programs, including the Cold War thriller Fail Safe (2000) starring George Clooney, Richard Dreyfus, and Harvey Keitel. Frears won great acclaim for the television film The Deal (2003), about the pact made by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown revolving around the 1994 Labour Party leadership election. In 2013, Frears directed the HBO film Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (2013), a drama involving the legal battle over Muhammad Ali's draft-dodging conviction during the Vietnam War starring Frank Langella and Christopher Plummer. He later directed the biographical BBC One/Amazon Prime miniseries A Very English Scandal (2018), in which Hugh Grant played British politician Jeremy Thorpe, and his scandal involving Norman Scott played by Ben Whishaw. His recent work in television includes the comic series State of the Union (2019) starring Rosamund Pike, and Chris O'Dowd, and the second series in 2022 starring Patricia Clarkson and Brendan Gleeson, as well as the miniseries Quiz (2020) starring Matthew Macfadyen, Sian Clifford and Michael Sheen, based on a true story about a man who was accused of cheating on the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

He has received two Academy Award nominations and four Primetime Emmy Award nominations, with one win. He has received thirteen British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award nominations, winning three times. In 2003 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. He has won numerous prizes at the Venice Film Festival including the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award in 2017. In 2008, The Daily Telegraph named Frears among the 100 most influential people in British culture.[1] In 2009 he received the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.


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