Stephen Frears

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Stephen Frears
Stephen Frears Cannes 2010.jpg
Born Stephen Arthur Frears
(1941-06-20) 20 June 1941 (age 73)
Leicester, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Occupation Film director
Years active 1968–present
Notable work My Beautiful Laundrette
Dangerous Liaisons
High Fidelity
The Queen
Spouse(s) Mary-Kay Wilmers
Anne Rothenstein
Children 4

Stephen Arthur Frears (born 20 June 1941) is an English film director. Frears directed several critically acclaimed British feature films since the 1980s including My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liaisons, High Fidelity, The Queen, and Philomena.

Early life[edit]

Frears was born in Leicester, England. His father, Russell E. Frears, was a general practitioner and accountant, and his mother, Ruth M. (née Danziger), was a social worker.[1] Frears was raised Anglican, and did not find out that his mother was Jewish until he was in his late 20s.[2][3][4] Frears was educated at Gresham's School from 1954 to 1959, and later went on to study law at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1960 to 1963.


After graduating from Cambridge, Frears worked as an assistant director on the films Morgan! and if...., but spent most of his early directing career in television mainly for the BBC, but also for the commercial sector. Frears contributed to several high-profile anthology series such as the BBC's Play for Today, and 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

In the late 1980s, Frears came to international attention as a director of feature films. Frears' directorial film debut was the detective spoof Gumshoe, but it was his direction of Hanif Kureishi screenplay My Beautiful Laundrette, that unexpectedly led to wider notice. The interracial romance, shot on 16 mm film, was released theatrically from 1985 to great acclaim, and received an Academy Award nomination and two nominations for BAFTA Awards: it is known as the film that helped launch both Frears and actor Daniel Day Lewis. In 1987, Frears worked with Adrian Edmondson for Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, for a 45-minute programme from cult ensemble The Comic Strip Presents. In 1985, Frears also directed a Comic Strip parody of Rebecca.

Frears next directed Joe Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears, another collaboration with playwright Alan Bennett, which was followed by his second film from a Kureishi screenplay, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid. The following year, Frears made Dangerous Liaisons in France, with a cast that included Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. Based on the novel of romantic game playing, the film received numerous Academy Awards and BAFTA nominations, and Frears himself was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Direction. Frears had further critical success with his next film The Grifters, another tale of con-artists. The film earned Frears his first Academy Award nomination for best direction. In 2006, Frears directed The Queen, 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 Helen Mirren won numerous awards for playing the title role.

Frears' other films include Western The Hi-Lo Country, which won him the best director award at the Berlin Film Festival, High Fidelity, which features a number of scenes where star John Cusack addresses the audience directly, Dirty Pretty Things, and Brit theatre comedy Mrs Henderson Presents. Frears has also occasionally returned to directing for television, perhaps most notably with The Deal, 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 based on novels by Roddy Doyle, The Snapper and The Van.

He holds the "David Lean Chair in Fiction Direction" from the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, England, where he teaches frequently.

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

His 2013 adoption drama Philomena, written by Brit 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.

Personal life[edit]

Frears currently lives in London with his wife, the painter Anne Rothenstein, and his two younger children Frankie and Lola. He also has two children, Sam and Will, from his previous marriage to Mary-Kay Wilmers. 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".[5] Steven Frears' uncanny physical resemblance to the late comic Rodney Dangerfield has been often mentioned in the British press.



Frears at the Cardiff Film Festival in 2006 for the premiere of The Queen.

Feature films[edit]



External links[edit]