Born: October 22, 1943
Date of Birth: October 22, 1943
Born in the Eindhoven, Holland, Jan De Bont began making 9mm films when he was just 10 years old. By the time he was in high school, he'd progressed to working with 16mm film. De Bont studied filmmaking at the National Film Academy in Amsterdam, then worked as a cinematographer on several shorts and documentaries. His first big break came in 1971 when he worked as a cinematographer on director Paul Verhoeven's film Wat Zien Ik (1971). Throughout the '70s, De Bont worked with several directors, quickly becoming a cinematographer of renown in Europe before moving to the United States. One of his first American films was Roar (1981), starring Tippi Hedren. The experience proved a memorable one, as he was mauled by a lion on the set and had to have his scalp sewn back in place.
Famous for incorporating handheld cameras with quick movement, he quickly became one of the most sought-after cinematographers in America, and was finally given the chance to direct with Speed(1994), starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. One of the biggest money earners of 1994, the film was a worldwide success, bringing in US $283,200,000 at the box office. He followed the success of Speed with Twister (1996), starring Helen Hunt. It was another smash hit, earning an astounding US $472,700,000 at the worldwide box office. A sequel to Speed seemed like a logical next step, but Keanu Reeves refused to participate, and Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) was De Bont's first box office bomb. Although The Haunting (1999) was filled with star power such as Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, it also tanked at the box office, barely covering costs.
De Bont took some time off to produce films such as Minority Report and Equilibrium (both 2002), before returning to the director's chair to film the Tomb Raider sequel -- Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) -- starring Angelina Jolie. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.