Iain Softley

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Iain Softley
Born (1956-11-30) 30 November 1956 (age 67)
Chiswick, London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation(s)Film director, producer, screenwriter
Years active1994–present
SpouseSarah Curtis

Iain Declan Softley (born 30 November 1956) is an English film director, producer, and screenwriter. His films include Backbeat, Hackers, The Wings of the Dove, K-PAX, The Skeleton Key, Inkheart and the BBC adaptation of Sadie Jones's novel The Outcast.


Softley was educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing, London, and Queens' College, Cambridge, where he directed a number of highly-praised theatrical productions. He worked for Granada TV and the BBC in the 1980s before moving on to music videos and film.

Softley's first film, the Stuart Sutcliffe biopic, Backbeat, which he wrote and directed, was released in 1994. It opened the Sundance Film Festival[1] and went on to receive a BAFTA Award nomination for Best British Film. For his work on the film, Softley received Best Newcomer Awards from The London Film Critics Circle and Empire Magazine.[2]

Following Backbeat, Softley directed the cyber thriller Hackers, starring Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee-Miller. This was followed in 1997 by an adaptation of Henry James' novel, The Wings of the Dove, starring Helena Bonham-Carter. The film premiered at the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals, earned four Academy Award nominations, and won a number of awards including two BAFTAs and multiple acting honors for Bonham Carter.[3]

Softley's next two films (released by Universal Pictures[4]) topped the US box office:[5] the sci-fi mystery film K-PAX, starring Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges, and the suspense thriller, The Skeleton Key with Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands and John Hurt.

Other film credits include: Inkheart, from Cornelia Funke's best-selling book, with Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany and Jim Broadbent; Trap for Cinderella, starring Tuppence Middleton and Alexandra Roach, which Softley adapted and directed from Sebastien Japrisot's French crime novel; and Curve starring Julianne Hough, produced by Blumhouse Productions and released by Universal Pictures in 2016.[6]

In 2010, Softley directed a stage adaptation of Backbeat, which was co-written with Stephen Jeffreys. It premiered at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow,[7] before transferring to the Duke of York's Theatre, in London[8] and then subsequently Toronto, Los Angeles and Berlin.[9][10][11]

In 2016, it was announced that Softley will direct Icarus, based on the life of British/American astronaut, Michael Foale, which Softley has developed with writers Hilary Thompson and Laurence Coriat. He will co-produce the project through his company, Forthcoming Films.[12] Softley attended Queens' College, Cambridge at the same time as Foale.

Aside from his work in film, Softley has also worked in television. In 2012, he directed the short film, The Man, as part of Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents strand. The film was a satirical take on the clandestine Bilderberg Group and starred Stellan Skarsgard, Zoe Wannamaker, Hayley Atwell and Stephen Fry.[13] In 2015, the BBC broadcast a two-part adaptation of author Sadie Jones' novel The Outcast which Softley also directed.[14] The film was warmly received by The Guardian, with Julia Raeside writing: "The tone set by Iain Softley's beautifully restrained direction and the careful use of music creates a real feeling of loss from the start, just as in the book, but he somehow avoids all hammy visual foreshadowing and narrative signposting, so often used to gee a plot along".[15]

Softley also directed the upcoming Disney+ short film The Shepherd, which stars John Travolta and is an adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's novel The Shepherd.[16][17]

Production company[edit]

Together with his wife, film producer Sarah Curtis, Softley runs Forthcoming Films, which produces and develops their respective projects. Past productions include: Backbeat, On a Clear Day, Hysteria, Trap for Cinderella and Ophelia.[18]

Future productions include: the Michael Foale biopic Icarus.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Softley and Curtis live in London. Together, they have three children.[20]



Year Title Director Producer Writer
1994 Backbeat Yes No Yes
1995 Hackers Yes Executive No
1997 The Wings of the Dove Yes No No
2001 K-PAX Yes No No
2005 The Skeleton Key Yes Yes No
2008 Inkheart Yes Yes No
2013 Trap for Cinderella Yes No Yes
2015 Curve Yes No No
2023 The Shepherd Yes No Yes


Year Title Notes
2012 Playhouse Presents Episode "The Man"
2015 The Outcast Miniseries (2 episodes)

Musical video[edit]


  1. ^ "Iain Softley interview: Trap For Cinderella, Hackers & more". Den of Geek. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Iain Softley". IMDb. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  3. ^ The Wings of the Dove, retrieved 18 July 2017
  4. ^ "Universal Begins Principal on THE SKELETON KEY and THE PERFECT MAN - ComingSoon.net". ComingSoon.net. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  5. ^ "K-PAX tops US box office". The Guardian. 29 October 2001. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Iain Softley". Casarotto Ramsay & Associates. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  7. ^ "What's On: Backbeat: 09 Feb 2010". Citizens Theatre. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Backbeat, Duke of York's Theatre, London". The Independent. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  9. ^ "BACKBEAT: Beatles-Mania in Berlin - Musical1". Musical1 (in German). 2 June 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  10. ^ McNulty, Charles (1 February 2013). "Review: In 'Backbeat,' it's the Beatles' early, non-fab years". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  11. ^ Morrow, Martin (30 July 2012). "Backbeat: A Beatles love story". Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  12. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (19 October 2016). "Archery Pictures, Forthcoming Films & Start Motion Pictures Developing Mike Foale Feature 'Icarus'". Deadline. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  13. ^ "Playhouse Presents - S1 - Episode 9: Playhouse Presents: The Man". Radio Times. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  14. ^ "BBC One: The Outcast: Episode 1 credits". BBC. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  15. ^ Raeside, Julia (13 July 2015). "The Outcast review – 'I feared for Sadie Jones's adaptation of her perfect novel – but it is excellent'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  16. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (11 October 2023). "'The Shepherd' Trailer: John Travolta Is a Mysterious RAF Rescue Pilot in Alfonso Cuarón-Produced Drama (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 24 October 2023.
  17. ^ Whittock, Jesse (5 December 2022). "'Chivalry' Producer Richard Johns Launches Argo Films With John Travolta Disney+ Short 'The Shepherd'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 24 October 2023.
  18. ^ "Forthcoming Productions". BFI. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  19. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (19 October 2016). "Archery Pictures, Forthcoming Films & Start Motion Pictures Developing Mike Foale Feature Icarus". Deadline. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  20. ^ Robert, Christina (4 November 2012). "How I make it work: Sarah Curtis". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2013.

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