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Stephen Frears

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Stephen Frears
Stephen Frears OIFF 2014-07-12 113913 (cropped).jpg
Frears at the 12 July 2014 Odessa International Film Festival
Born
Stephen Arthur Frears

(1941-06-20) 20 June 1941 (age 78)
EducationGresham's School, Norfolk
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
OccupationFilm director, television director
Years active1968–present
Spouse(s)Mary-Kay Wilmers
(m. 1968; div. early 1970s)
Anne Rothenstein
(m. 1992)
Children4

Stephen Arthur Frears (born 20 June 1941)[1] is an English film and television director. Frears has directed numerous films since the 1980s including My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), High Fidelity (2000), The Queen (2006), Philomena (2013), and Florence Foster Jenkins (2016). He is also known for his work in television including, The Deal (2003), A Very English Scandal (2017), and Quiz (2020).

He has been nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Director: for The Grifters and The Queen. He also received four Primetime Emmy Awards nominations including a win for State of the Union in 2019. In 2008 The Daily Telegraph named him among the 100 most influential people in British culture.[2]

Early life

Frears was born in Leicester, England.[citation needed] His mother, Ruth M. (née Danziger), was a social worker, and his father, Russell E. Frears, was a general practitioner and accountant.[3] Frears was brought up Anglican, and did not find out that his mother was Jewish until he was in his late 20s.[4][5][6]

Education

From 1954 to 1959, Frears was educated at Gresham's School,[7] a boarding independent school for boys (now co-educational) in the market town of Holt in Norfolk. This was followed by Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1960 to 1963.[8]

Career

At the University of Cambridge Frears was Assistant Stage Manager for the 1963 footlights Revue which starred Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Cleese, Bill Oddie and David Hatch.[9] After graduating from the University, Frears worked as an assistant director on the films Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) and if.... (1968). He spent most of his early directing career in television, mainly for the BBC but also for the commercial sector.

Frears contributed to several anthology series, such as the BBC's Play for Today. He produced a series of Alan Bennett's plays for LWT, taking responsibility for working in the gallery on The Old Crowd while Lindsay Anderson worked with the actors.

Frears in Sweden, 1989, promoting his film Dangerous Liaisons
Frears in Sweden, 1989, promoting his film Dangerous Liaisons

In the late 1980s, Frears came to international attention as a director of feature films. His directorial film debut was the noir detective spoof Gumshoe (1971) but it was not until his direction of My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) that he came to wider public notice. The interracial gay romance, based on a Hanif Kureishi screenplay and shot on 16 mm film, was released theatrically to great critical acclaim. It received an Academy Award nomination and two nominations for BAFTA Award. The success of the film helped launch the careers of both Frears and actor Daniel Day Lewis.

Frears worked with Adrian Edmondson on Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, a 45-minute programme starring Peter Cook in The Comic Strip Presents television comedy series that aired on Channel Four in 1988. In 1985, Frears had also directed a Comic Strip parody of Daphne Du Maurier's novel Rebecca.

Frears next directed the Joe Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears (1987), a collaboration with playwright Alan Bennett. His second film adapted from a Kureishi screenplay was Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987). Dangerous Liaisons (1988) was shot in France, with a cast that included Americans Glenn Close, John Malkovich, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Based on the late 18th-century French novel of romantic game playing and adapted by Christopher Hampton, the film received numerous Academy Awards and BAFTA nominations. Frears was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Direction. Frears had further critical success with his next film The Grifters (1990), another tale of con artists. The film earned Frears his first Academy Award nomination for best direction.

Frears directed The Queen (2006), that depicts the death of Princess Diana on 31 August 1997. The Queen also achieved immense critical acclaim, box-office success, and awards. Frears himself received his second Academy Award nomination for best direction, and actor Helen Mirren won numerous awards for playing the title role.

Frears' other films include Western The Hi-Lo Country (1998), which won him the best director award at the Berlin Film Festival, High Fidelity (2000), which features a number of scenes where star John Cusack addresses the audience directly, Dirty Pretty Things (2002), and the British theatre comedy Mrs Henderson Presents (2005).

Frears returned to directing for television with The Deal (2003), which depicts an alleged deal between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown over which of them should become leader of the Labour Party in 1994.

Frears has also directed two films adapted from novels by Roddy Doyle, The Snapper (1993) and The Van (1996).

Frears holds the "David Lean Chair in Fiction Direction" at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, where he teaches.

His film Hero (1992), starring Dustin Hoffman, was a major box office disappointment. Frears was nominated for a Razzie Award for his direction of Mary Reilly.

His Irish adoption drama, Philomena (2013), written by Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan, won the best screenplay award at the 2013 Venice Film Festival and the BAFTAS, and was nominated that year for Best Picture at the BAFTAs and the Academy Awards. It stars Coogan and Judi Dench. The same year, HBO released his television drama Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, which depicts the US Supreme Court deliberation over banning Muhammad Ali from boxing for refusing to serve in the US Army during the Vietnam War.

His biopic of disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong, The Program, starring Ben Foster, was premiered in the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

Many of Frears' films are based on stories of living persons, but he has never sought to meet any of his subjects.[10]

National Life Stories conducted an oral history interview (C1316/07) with Stephen Frears in 2008 for its The Legacy of the English Stage Company collection held by the British Library.[11]

Personal life

Frears lives in London with his wife, the painter Anne Rothenstein, and their two children.[citation needed] .[citation needed]

In 1968 Frears married Mary-Kay Wilmers, with whom he had two sons, Sam and Will Frears (a stage and film director). Frears left Wilmers while she was pregnant with their second son Will. They lived on Gloucester Crescent in Camden Town. The couple divorced in the early 1970s.[12] The live-in nanny that Wilmers hired in the early 1980s, Nina Stibbe, wrote letters home describing the North London literati life; these were compiled and published, and turned into a 2016 TV series, Love, Nina.

Early in his career, Frears made a programme featuring the band the Scaffold and is name-checked ("Mr Frears had sticky-out ears...") in their hit song "Lily the Pink".[13]

Political views

In April 2015, Frears was one of several celebrities who endorsed the parliamentary candidacy of the Green Party's Caroline Lucas at the 2015 general election.[14]

In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, Frears signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that "Labour's election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few."[15][16]

Filmography

This page was last edited on 14 June 2020, at 22:29
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