Stephen Frears

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Stephen Frears
Stephen Frears Cannes 2010.jpg
Born Stephen Arthur Frears
(1941-06-20) 20 June 1941 (age 72)
Leicester, England
Nationality British
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Occupation Film director
Years active 1968–present
Spouse(s) Mary-Kay Wilmers
Anne Rothenstein
Children 4

Stephen Arthur Frears (born 20 June 1941) is an English film director.

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 mid-1980s, Frears came to international attention as an important director of British and American films. He would be known as the man who told stories about good and bad people and others in their orbit and of the conditions they face in a world they must adapt to. Frears' film debut was Gumshoe, but it was his production of the Hanif Kureishi screenplay My Beautiful Laundrette, that unexpectedly led to his wider notice. The production, shot on 16 mm film, was released theatrically to great acclaim, and received a nomination for an Academy Award and two nominations for BAFTA Awards: it is widely known as the film that helped launch both Frears and actor Daniel Day Lewis. In 1987, Frears worked with comedian Adrian Edmondson for Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, for a 45-minute programme from the cult series The Comic Strip Presents. In 1985, Frears also directed a Comic Strip parody of Rebecca with the usual Comic Strip ensemble.

Frears next directed another successful British film, the Joe Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears, another collaboration with Alan Bennett, which was followed by a second film from a Kureishi screenplay, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid. The following year, Frears made his Hollywood debut with Dangerous Liaisons. The film was quite successful at the box office. It received numerous nominations for Academy Awards and BAFTA Awards, and Frears himself was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Direction. Frears had another critical success with The Grifters, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. His film Hero, starring Dustin Hoffman, was a major box-office disappointment. Frears was also nominated for a Razzie Award for his direction of Mary Reilly.

Frears has directed a number of successful films in Britain and the United States in recent years including The Hi-Lo Country, High Fidelity, Dirty Pretty Things, and Mrs Henderson Presents. Frears has also occasionally returned to directing for television, perhaps most notably The Deal, that depicts an alleged deal between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to decide which of them should become leader of the Labour Party in 1994. Frears' film, The Queen, depicts the death of Princess Diana on 31 August 1997. The film achieved immense critical acclaim, box-office success and awards. Frears received his second Academy Award nomination for his direction of the film, and Helen Mirren won numerous awards for playing the title role. Frears has also directed two films based on stories 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 2013 film Philomena, co-written by Steve Coogan and starring Judi Dench and Coogan, won the best screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival.

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]



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

Feature films[edit]



External links[edit]