Stephen Frears Biography

Stephen Frears photo

Born: June 20, 1941

STEPHEN FREARS

Date of Birth: June 20, 1941

This native of Leicester, England, studied law at Cambridge University before turning to the arts. He became involved with London's Royal Court Theatre, where he worked as an assistant to director Lindsay Anderson and to actor Albert Finney.

In 1966 he began working in the film industry as an assistant director to Karel Reisz. This relation- ship would last six years before Frears would go out on his own.

Frears made his directorial debut with Gumshoe (1971), starring his old friend Finney. It was a tribute to the hardboiled detective drama. He then helmed a few made-for-television films, and several commercials, including one for Diet Coke starring George Michael. His breakthrough came in 1985 when he completed his work on My Beautiful Laundrette. About a relationship between a young Pakistani and a London street punk, the film explored issues encompassing homosexuality, racism, and inter-generational tensions. It earned great acclaim and a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination.

Frears next project was Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987), about the faltering relationship between a London couple. Unfortunately, it failed to make much of an impression on critics or audiences. Frears' next three films proved to be some of the most successful of his career.

Prick up Your Ears (1987) was the first. A biographical drama about the celebrated and controversial English playwright Joe Orton, the stellar performances earned wide praise for the film. A year later came Dangerous Liaisons. One of the richest films he's ever made, he earned a Best Director BAFTA nomination and a number of international honors. The film also earned an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Glenn Close.

His run ended with The Grifters (1990). This film, starring John Cusack, Anjelica Huston and Annette Bening, gained Frears more international acclaim. The gripping, stylish depiction of a deadly power struggle between three con artists earned a reputation as one of the best noirs in recent history. It was for this film that Frears garnered a reputation as one of the most gifted British directors of his generation.

Frears' subsequent films have been of wildly mixed quality. Hero (1992) and Mary Reilly (1996) failed miserably at the box office and in the eyes of the critics. Others, like the television movie The Snapper (1993) and The Van (1996) met with more positive results.

In 1998, Frears met with dissapointment when his western, The Hi-Lo Country met with a poor reception. Despite the steller cast, crtics complained he was out of his element.

The year 2000 marked Frears' return to more familiar territory. Collaborating again with John Cusack, Frears completed High Fidelity, which was adapted from Nick Hornby's popular novel of the same name, but it was largely ignored at the box office, barely earning back its modest initial investment.

Although not a hit, Dirty Pretty Things (2002) earned him praise from critics, as well as a British Independent Film Award for Best Director and and Evening Standard British Film AWard for Best Film. His TV film, The Deal (2003), earned a BAFTA TV Award for Best Single Drama.

He had a huge success on his hands with The Queen (2006), starring Helen Mirren in the title role of Queen Elizabeth II. He received Best Director nominations from both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.

In 2013, he directed the Oscar-nominated Philomena with Judi Dench, and most recently worked on Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) with Meryl Streep.

Frears has four children with his wife, Anne.

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