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Paul Greengrass

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Paul Greengrass
Greengrass at the Bourne Ultimatum premiere in Hollywood, 2007
Born (1955-08-13) 13 August 1955 (age 68)
Cheam, Surrey, England
Alma materQueens' College, Cambridge
Years active1978–present
Board member ofDirectors UK (president)

Paul Greengrass CBE (born 13 August 1955)[1] is an English film director, film producer, screenwriter and former journalist.

One of his early films, Bloody Sunday (2002), won the Golden Bear at 52nd Berlin International Film Festival. Other films Greengrass has directed include three entries of the Bourne action-thriller film series: The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) and Jason Bourne (2016). He also directed United 93 (2006), for which Greengrass won the BAFTA Award for Best Director and received an Academy Award for Best Director nomination; as well as Green Zone (2010) and Captain Phillips (2013). In 2004, he co-wrote and produced the film Omagh, which won the British Academy Television Award.[citation needed]

In 2007, Greengrass co-founded Directors UK, a professional organisation of British filmmakers, and was its first president until 2014. He ranked 28 on EW's The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood in 2007.[2] In 2008, The Telegraph named him among the most influential people in British culture.[3] In 2017, Greengrass was honoured with a British Film Institute Fellowship.[4][5]

Early life


Greengrass was born 13 August 1955 in Cheam, Surrey, England.[1] His mother Joyce Greengrass was a teacher and his father Phillip Greengrass a river pilot and merchant seaman.[6][7] His brother Mark Greengrass is an English historian.[citation needed]

Greengrass was educated at Westcourt Primary School, Gravesend Grammar School and Sevenoaks School; he attended Queens' College, Cambridge. He studied English literature at the same time as Roger Michell.[8]





Greengrass first worked as a director in the 1980s, for the ITV current affairs programme World in Action. At the same time, he co-authored the infamous book Spycatcher (1987) with Peter Wright, a former assistant director of MI5. It contained enough sensitive information that the British government made an unsuccessful attempt to ban it.[6] In the mid 80s, the book was banned due to revealing insights into how MI5 operated.[citation needed]


Greengrass (left) with Tom Hanks, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the Tokyo International Film Festival

Greengrass moved into drama, directing non-fiction, made-for-television films such as The One That Got Away, based on Chris Ryan's book about the experiences of the British Army's Special Air Service during the Gulf War and The Fix, based on the 1964 British betting scandal. His 1998 film The Theory of Flight starred Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter, who played a woman with motor neurone disease. The film dealt with the difficult issue of the sexuality of people with disabilities.[citation needed]

Greengrass directed The Murder of Stephen Lawrence (1999), an account of Stephen Lawrence, a Black British youth whose murder was not properly investigated by the Metropolitan Police. His mother's investigations resulted in accusations about institutional racism in the police. His next film, Bloody Sunday (2002), depicted the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre during the Troubles in an almost documentary style; it shared First Prize at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival with Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away. Bloody Sunday was inspired by Don Mullan's politically influential book Eyewitness Bloody Sunday (Wolfhound Press, 1997). A schoolboy witness of the events of Bloody Sunday, Mullan was co-producer and appeared as a figure in Bloody Sunday.

In 2004, Greengrass co-wrote the television film Omagh with Guy Hibbert. Based on the bombing of 1998, the film was a critical success, winning British Academy Television Award for Best Single Drama. This was the first professional film that Greengrass had not directed; he was credited as a writer and producer. He had been working on The Bourne Supremacy. The film was directed by Pete Travis. It was the second film Greengrass had written about terrorism and mass killing in Ireland after Bloody Sunday.

Based on that film, Greengrass was hired to direct 2004's The Bourne Supremacy, a sequel to the 2002 film The Bourne Identity. The first film's director, Doug Liman, had left the project. The film starred Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, an amnesiac who realises he was once a top CIA assassin and is being pursued by his former employers. An unexpectedly major financial and critical success, it secured Greengrass's reputation and ability to get his smaller, more personal films made.[citation needed]

In 2006, Greengrass directed United 93, a film based on the 11 September 2001 hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93. The film received critical acclaim, particularly for Greengrass's quasi-documentary-style. After receiving many Best Director awards and nominations from critics' circles (including the Broadcast Film Critics Association), Greengrass won the BAFTA award for Best Director at the 60th British Academy Film Awards and received an Oscar nomination for Achievement in Directing at the 79th Academy Awards. For his role in writing the film, he earned the Writers Guild of America Award and a BAFTA nominations for Best Original Screenplay.

Greengrass then returned to the Bourne franchise with The Bourne Ultimatum. Released in 2007, Ultimatum was an even bigger success than the previous two films. Greengrass was nominated for BAFTA Best Director at the 61st British Academy Film Awards.

In 2007, he co-founded Directors UK, a professional association for British directors. He served as founding president until July 2014.[9][10]

Greengrass's Green Zone stars Matt Damon as the head of a U.S. military team on an unsuccessful hunt for weapons of mass destruction in post-war Iraq. It was filmed in Spain and Morocco and released in 2010.[11] The film was first announced as based on the bestselling, award-winning, non-fiction book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Washington Post's Baghdad bureau chief. But the final film is a largely fictionalised action thriller only loosely inspired by events in the book.

Captain Phillips, Greengrass's film about the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009, was based on the book A Captain's Duty. It starred Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi and Faysal Ahmed. It was shot in 2012 in Massachusetts and Virginia in the United States, as well as Malta. It was released in 2013.

In September 2014, it was announced Greengrass would return to direct the fifth Jason Bourne film, Jason Bourne, with Damon starring again.[12] The film was released on 29 July 2016.[13]

In 2017, Greengrass began filming 22 July, a docudrama film following the 2011 Norway attacks perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik and their aftermath, on location in Norway. The film was released on Netflix and in select theaters on 10 October 2018.[14]

In February 2019, Greengrass signed on to direct the film adaptation of the Paulette Jiles novel News of the World for Fox 2000 Pictures, reuniting him with actor Tom Hanks.[15] The film was eventually released in the United States by Universal Pictures on 25 December 2020 and released internationally by Netflix in 2021.[16]

In May 2022, it was announced that Greengrass would write and direct medieval action film The Hood, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and based on the story of the English Peasants' Revolt in 1381.[17] On September 15, it was announced Greengrass would write and direct an adaptation of the Stephen King novel Fairy Tale after King, a fan of Greengrass's films, sold him the option to adapt the film; Greengrass will also produce alongside Gregory Goodman.[18] In November 2023, it was announced that Greengrass would write and direct a film adaptation of the T. J. Newman novel Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 for Warner Bros. Pictures.[19] In January 2024, it was announced Greengrass would direct the thriller The Lost Bus, written by Brad Ingelsby and based on the 2021 nonfiction book Paradise: One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire by Lizzie Johnson, about the 2018 California wildfires, for Apple Studios; Matthew McConaughey and America Ferrera will star in the project.[20][21]

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to the arts.[22]

Personal life


Greengrass has said that he does not believe in god but has "great respect for the spiritual way".[23] Greengrass is married to talent agent Joanna Kaye, with whom he has three children, and is the father of two more children from an earlier marriage.[24]

He is a supporter of Crystal Palace.[25]




Year Title Director Writer Producer
1989 Resurrected Yes No No
1998 The Theory of Flight Yes No No
2002 Bloody Sunday Yes Yes No
2004 The Bourne Supremacy Yes No No
2006 United 93 Yes Yes Yes
2007 The Bourne Ultimatum Yes No No
2010 Green Zone Yes No Yes
2013 Captain Phillips Yes No No
2016 Jason Bourne Yes Yes Yes
2018 22 July Yes Yes Yes
2020 News of the World Yes Yes No
2025 The Lost Bus Yes No No


Year Title Director Writer Notes
1993 Crime Story Yes Yes Episode "When the Lies Run Out: The Ian Spiro Story"
1995 Kavanagh QC Yes No Episode "The Sweetest Thing"

TV movies

Year Title Director Writer Producer
1994 Open Fire Yes Yes No
1996 The One That Got Away Yes Yes No
1997 The Fix Yes Yes No
1999 The Murder of Stephen Lawrence Yes Yes No
2004 Omagh No Yes Yes

Documentary series

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1984-1987 World in Action Yes No Yes Director of 2 episodes / Producer of 10 episodes
1992 Cutting Edge Yes No Yes Episode "Coppers"
1995 The Late Show Yes Yes No Episode "Sophie's World"
2017 Five Came Back No No No Starring role as himself

Awards and nominations

Year Title Academy Awards BAFTA Awards Golden Globe Awards
Nominations Wins Nominations Wins Nominations Wins
2002 Bloody Sunday 5 1
2006 United 93 2 6 2
2007 The Bourne Ultimatum 3 3 6 3
2013 Captain Phillips 6 9 1 4
2020 News of the World 4 4 2
Total 15 3 30 7 6 0
Year Title Awards and nominations
2004 Omagh British Academy Television Award Best Single Drama
2006 United 93 BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated — Academy Award for Best Director
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
2007 The Bourne Ultimatum Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film
2013 Captain Phillips Empire Inspiration Award
Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated — Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
Nominated — AACTA International Award for Best Direction
Nominated — Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Director


  1. ^ a b Brown, Mark; correspondent, arts (26 January 2007). "'He is fun and he is bright'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  2. ^ "Paul Greengrass - Biography". IMDb. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
  3. ^ "The 100 most powerful people in British culture: 41-60". The Daily Telegraph. 18 March 2016. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022.
  4. ^ "Paul Greengrass to receive BFI Fellowship at BFI London Film Festival Awards Ceremony". British Film Institute. 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Harvey Weinstein's Shadow Hangs Over London Film Festival Awards". What's Worth Seeing. 14 October 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  6. ^ a b Thorpe, Vanessa (5 August 2007). "Hollywood's Favourite Brit". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
  7. ^ Brown, Mick (4 August 2007). "Straight shooting". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  8. ^ "Paul Greengrass: Greengrass was made an Honorary Fellow of Queens' College in 2008. Description". AMC. Archived from the original on 22 September 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Paul Greengrass steps down as Directors UK President". Directors UK. 25 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Inside Story: In the right direction - the cream of Britain's television directing talent". The Independent. 16 June 2008. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  11. ^ Garrett, Diane (6 June 2007). "Damon, Greengrass re-teaming". Variety. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
  12. ^ "Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass Returning for Bourne 5!". Coming Soon.net. 15 September 2014. Archived from the original on 12 November 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  13. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (19 October 2015). "Matt Damon Will Be Jason Bourne Again, Here Are The Details". Cinema Blend.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (21 August 2017). "Netflix Lands Paul Greengrass Pic About Norwegian Terrorist Who Killed 77". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  15. ^ Lang, Brent (6 February 2019). "Paul Greengrass Circling 'News of the World' With Tom Hanks (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  16. ^ Lang, Brent; Rubin, Rebecca (11 November 2020). "Netflix Buys International Rights to Tom Hanks' 'News of the World'". Variety. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  17. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (20 May 2022). "New Hot Cannes Package: Paul Greengrass Directing Benedict Cumberbatch In Peasant Farmer Revolt Drama 'The Hood'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 23 May 2022.
  18. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (15 September 2022). "Hot Package: Paul Greengrass To Adapt & Direct Stephen King's New Bestseller 'Fairy Tale'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  19. ^ Rubin, Rebecca. "Paul Greengrass to Direct Adaptation of T.J. Newman Novel 'Drowning' For Warner Bros". Variety. Retrieved 28 November 2023.
  20. ^ Kit, Borys; Gajewski, Ryan (26 January 2024). "Apple in Talks to Land Thriller 'The Lost Bus' From Matthew McConaughey, Director Paul Greengrass". The Hollywood Reporter. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  21. ^ Davis, Clayton (21 February 2024). "America Ferrera to Star in Paul Greengrass' Wildfire Drama 'The Lost Bus' With Matthew McConaughey (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  22. ^ "No. 63571". The London Gazette (Supplement). 1 January 2022. p. N9.
  23. ^ Carnevale, Rob. "Calling the Shots: No.40: Paul Greengrass". BBC. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
  24. ^ Mottram, James (7 February 2021). "Paul Greengrass: 'What are we gonna do in our country? It's split down the middle'". The Independent. Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  25. ^ "Bill Nighy & Paul Greengrass Star on Ep.16 of the Official Palace Podcast". Crystal Palace F.C. 7 December 2018. Retrieved 27 January 2021.