Neil Jordan Biography

Neil Jordan photo

Born: February 25, 1950


Date of Birth: February 25, 1950

"I'm fascinated by monsters [and] monstrous people and fascinated with illogic and irrationality."

Born in Sligo County, Ireland, Neil Jordan began his career as an acclaimed fiction writer. He entered the film industry in 1981 as a creative consultant on John Boorman's Excalibur, and subsequently made a documentary about the making of the film. Until his Oscar-winning screenplay for The Crying Game, his most successful films had been relatively small scale.

After scripting Traveller (1981), Jordan wrote and directed his first film, the stylish 1982 crime drama Angel. Starring Stephen Rea (an actor commonly used in Jordan's films) as a saxophone player who witnesses a series of brutal murders, it explored the darker, violent impulses of the human mind, a theme that Jordan would revisit time and again in his later films.

His first real success came with the film Mona Lisa (1986). Shown in competition at the Cannes Festival and starring Bob Hoskins as a gruff, good-hearted ex-con, it was an innovative, mysterious meditation on obsession, betrayal, and love and its many variations. Hoskins earned numerous honors for his performance, and Jordan became recognized as an emerging talent in international cinema.

After two massive disappointments, High Spirits (1988) and We're No Angels (1989), Jordan rebounded somewhat when he returned to Ireland to direct The Miracle (1991), a poignant drama about two Irish teens.

It was with his subsequent effort, The Crying Game (1992), that his reputation was truly established. A bona fide sleeper hit, the film offered a haunting exploration of the themes of love, betrayal, and obsession on which Jordan had so often focused, as well as a genuinely shocking plot twist. The director received a score of honors for the film, including an Oscar and a New York Film Critics Circle award for his screenplay.

With a major international hit on his resumé, Jordan returned to Hollywood to direct Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire (1994). Starring heartthrobs Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in this gothic, lush horror, the film was highly popular with audiences, but did not have the same effect on the critics.

Jordan's next effort, 1996's Michael Collins, received substantially greater acclaim. A biopic of the legendary co-founder of the IRA and driving force behind the creation of the Irish Republic, the film was both controversial and widely praised. It featured a particularly strong performance by Liam Neeson in the title role, and Jordan won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Jordan next returned to the realm of psychological terror with The Butcher Boy (1997). A horrifying, darkly comic look at a troubled boy's disintegration into insanity and violence, it won Jordan a Best Director nod at the Berlin Film Festival. Jordan earned wide acclaim for his handling of such inarguably difficult material, earning the Venice Film Festival's Silver Lion. After a disappointing Hollywood outing with In Dreams (1999), Jordan resurfaced later that year with The End of the Affair (1999). Based on a Graham Greene novel, it won a BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay. In 2003 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the IFTA Awards.

In 2010 he won two Irish Film and Television Awards for Best Director and Best Film for Ondine, starring Colin Farrell.

He has two children with his first wife, Vivienne Shields, and two children with his second wife, Brenda Rawn.


The Brave One(2007)
Breakfast on Pluto(2005)
The Good Thief(2002)
Not I (2000)
The End of the Affair(1999)
In Dreams(1999)
The Butcher Boy (1997)
Michael Collins (1996)
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles(1994)
The Crying Game (1992)
The Miracle(1991)
We're No Angels (1989)
High Spirits(1988)
Mona Lisa (1986)
The Company of Wolves(1984)
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