Lenny Abrahamson

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Lenny Abrahamson
Leonard Ian Abrahamson

(1966-11-30) 30 November 1966 (age 57)[1][2]
EducationThe High School, Dublin
Alma materTrinity College, Dublin
Occupation(s)Film and television director
Years active1991–present
SpouseMonika Pamula

Leonard Ian Abrahamson (born 30 November 1966) is an Irish film and television director.[1][2] He is best known for directing independent films Adam & Paul (2004), Garage (2007), What Richard Did (2012), Frank (2014), and Room (2015), all of which contributed to Abrahamson's six Irish Film and Television Awards.

In 2015, he received widespread recognition for directing Room, based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue. The film received four nominations [3] at the 88th Academy Awards including Best Picture[3] and Best Director for Abrahamson.[3] In 2020, he directed six episodes of and executive produced the television series Normal People, for which he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Abrahamson was born in Rathfarnham, Dublin, the son of Jewish parents Edna (née Walzman) and Max Abrahamson, a solicitor.[5] Although his upbringing was not devoutly religious, his family belonged to an Orthodox synagogue, and he had a bar mitzvah ceremony and attended a cheder.[6] Both sides of his family were originally from Eastern Europe;[7] his maternal grandparents were Polish Jews who settled in Ireland in the 1930s, while his paternal grandfather, after whom he was named, was surgeon Leonard Abrahamson, a Ukrainian Jew from Odesa. Abrahamson's mother was a childhood friend of the future President of Israel, Chaim Herzog; both were the children of Jewish immigrants to Ireland, and grew up on Bloomfield Avenue in Portobello.[6]

He was educated at The High School and Trinity College Dublin, where he was elected a scholar in philosophy in 1988, having transferred after a year of studying theoretical physics.[8]


Abrahamson was offered a scholarship to study for a PhD in Philosophy in Stanford University. He abandoned his studies after six months and returned to Ireland to take up filmmaking, initially directing commercials, filming a popular series of adverts for Carlsberg.[9] His first film was Adam & Paul, a black comedy that featured a pair of heroin addicts as they made their way around Dublin in search of a fix. The follow-up film to this was 2007's Garage, starring Pat Shortt as a lonely petrol station attendant in rural Ireland. Both films won the IFTA award for best film.[10]

Also in 2007, RTÉ screened Abrahamson's four-part TV miniseries Prosperity, which was written in collaboration with Mark O'Halloran, the co-writer of Adam and Paul and Garage. Like these two films, Prosperity focused on people on the fringes of Irish society, with each one-hour episode focusing on a specific character, including an alcoholic, a single mother, and an asylum seeker. Prosperity was nominated for six Irish Film and Television Awards in 2008 and won in two categories, Best Directing for Lenny Abrahamson, and Best Script for Mark O'Halloran.[11]

In 2012, Abrahamson won his third IFTA for best film with What Richard Did.[citation needed]

Abrahamson revealed that he was working on a film called Frank, which is set in Britain, Ireland, and the USA, in a December 2012 interview with Eurochannel. "It's a comedy about a young musician who joins an eccentric band led by an enigmatic singer called Frank. It's a kind of road movie, strange, funny and quite original, I hope. It stars Michael Fassbender and Domhnall Gleeson."[12]

Frank premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014. The film is about an eccentric musician modeled after Frank Sidebottom.[13] It stars Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal. He next directed the film adaptation of Emma Donoghue's novel, Room (2015), for which he received his first Academy Award nomination.[14] The film was successful, both critically and commercially.[15][16]

In 2014, it was announced that Abrahamson would direct an adaptation of Laird Hunt's Civil War novel Neverhome.[17] In 2015, Abrahamson was working on A Man's World, a film based on Emile Griffith's boxing rivalry with Benny Paret.[18]

In 2016, it was confirmed that Abrahamson was attached to direct Neal Bascomb's upcoming book The Grand Escape, a true story of three daredevil World War I pilots being held in Germany's most infamous POW prison. The story chronicles WWI's greatest mass prison escape, and the pilots' subsequent flight to freedom. A writer to adapt Bascomb's book has not yet been attached.[19] Element Pictures and Film4 Productions are producing.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Abrahamson is married to Monika Pamula, a Polish-born film studies teacher; the couple have two children.[21][22]

Abrahamson is an atheist.[23]





Awards and nominations[edit]

Academy Awards

British Academy Television Awards

British Academy Television Craft Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards

Irish Film & Television Awards

  • Best Director for Film – Adam & Paul (2004) Winner
  • Best Director for Film – Garage (2007) Winner
  • Best Director for Film – What Richard Did (2012) Winner
  • Best Director for Television - Prosperity (2007) Winner

Cannes Film Festival

Satellite Awards


  1. ^ a b "Lenny Abrahamson". AlloCiné. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Lenny Abrahamson - Overview". AllMovie. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "Academy Awards Database Search | Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences". awardsdatabase.oscars.org. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b "Lenny Abrahamson". Television Academy. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  5. ^ Max Abrahamson profile Archived 2017-12-07 at the Wayback Machine, lawsociety.ie; accessed 7 March 2016.
  6. ^ a b Curt Schleier (14 August 2014). "Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland's 'Third Most Famous Jew'". Forward.com. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Lenny Abrahamson". Independent.ie. 8 September 2007. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  8. ^ Brady, Tara (8 January 2016). "Lenny Abrahamson: 'I couldn't bear the idea that I wasn't the smartest'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  9. ^ Ryan Gilbey (3 January 2013). "Lenny Abrahamson: 'Good guys can be complex, too'". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  10. ^ "IFTA Academy | Irish Film & Television Academy | Irish Film & Television Awards".
  11. ^ Eurochannel. "Prosperity - Lenny Abrahamson - Gary Egan - Ireland - Eurochannel". Eurochannel: The European TV channel - European movies, TV series and music. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  12. ^ Eurochannel. "Interview - Lenny Abrahamson - Eurochannel". Eurochannel: The European TV channel - European movies, TV series and music. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  13. ^ Michael Rosser (10 January 2013). "First photo of Gyllenhaal, Fassbender and Gleeson in Frank". Screen Daily. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  14. ^ Andreas Wiseman (3 September 2013). "Lenny Abrahamson to direct Room adaptation". Screen Daily. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  15. ^ "Reviews of Room". metacritic.com. 11 January 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  16. ^ Niall Murphy (18 May 2015). "Irish Abroad: International rights sell out for Lenny Abrahamson's Room". Scannain. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  17. ^ Niall Murphy (24 September 2014). "Irish Film: Lenny Abrahamson to adapt Laird Hunt's Neverhome". Scannain. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  18. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (16 November 2015). "'Room' Director Lenny Abrahamson To Helm Bisexual Boxing Drama 'A Man's World'". The Playlist. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  19. ^ "'Room' Helmer Lenny Abrahamson to Direct Adaptation of 'The Grand Escape' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. 29 March 2016. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  20. ^ Niall Murphy (30 March 2016). "Irish Film: Lenny Abrahamson to direct The Grand Escape for Element Pictures and Film4". Scannain. Retrieved 30 March 2016.
  21. ^ Aine McMahon. "Oscars: 'You have to mark an event like this', Lenny Abrahamson says". Irishtimes.com. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  22. ^ Staff. "Interview: Lenny Abrahamson". Shaqsy.com. Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  23. ^ Lawrence, Ben (1 September 2018). "Sexual repression, class envy and ghosts... The making of psychological drama The Little Stranger". The Telegraph – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  24. ^ "2021 Television Mini-Series | BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 15 January 2023.
  25. ^ "2021 Television Craft Director: Fiction | BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 15 January 2023.

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