Tom Harper (director)

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Tom Harper
Tom Harper on ColliderVideo.jpg
Harper interviewed in 2018
Born (1980-01-07) 7 January 1980 (age 42)
London, England
OccupationFilm producer
Film director
Years active1998–present

Tom Harper (born 7 January 1980) is a British film and television director, producer and writer. He is best known for his work on The Aeronauts, Wild Rose, Peaky Blinders, and the BBC TV mini-series War & Peace.

Early life and education[edit]

Harper grew up in a Quaker family. He "credits Quakerism with setting the tone in his attitudes towards pacifism and non-violence."[1]

Harper attended Acland Burghley School[2] before going on to study at The University of Manchester.[3]


Harper began his career making short films. He wrote and directed Cubs in 2006 about urban fox hunting which was nominated for a BAFTA in the Best Short Film category and won a BIFA.[4]

Harper then moved on to direct a range of film and television work which includes Misfits, The Scouting Book for Boys (2009), This Is England '86, The Borrowers (2011), Peaky Blinders (2013) and The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.[5]

In 2014, Harper re-teamed with Jack Thorne, the writer of The Scouting Book for Boys, to make War Book, which premiered at the London Film Festival and had its international premiere as the opening film of the International Festival of Film Rotterdam.[6] The film received critical acclaim[7] with The List calling it a "powerful, provocative and essential piece of modern British cinema".[8] Harper was also a producer on the film.[9] He directed the 2016 BBC TV mini-series War & Peace, starring Paul Dano, Lily James and James Norton for BBC1 and The Weinstein Company.[10] The series topped ratings and won rave reviews.[11] The series was nominated for 6 BAFTAs (including Best Drama Series) and won for Best Production Design.[12]

Jessie Buckley, Tom Harper, and Nicole Taylor interviewed about Wild Rose in 2018

Harper next directed the pilot episode of The Son for AMC based on Phillip Meyer's acclaimed novel.[13] Pierce Brosnan played the lead, replacing Sam Neill (with whom Harper previously worked on Peaky Blinders) who was forced to pull out for "personal reasons."[14] The series was picked up for a second season in May 2017.[13]

In 2017, Harper teamed up with Jack Thorne again, to make "The Commuter," starring Timothy Spall, the third episode of the Channel 4/Amazon Video anthology series Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.[15]

Wild Rose starring Jessie Buckley (with whom Harper had worked previously on War and Peace) and Julie Walters, and written by Nicole Taylor, was filmed in Glasgow, Scotland, and Nashville, USA, in the summer of 2017. Owen Gleiberman described it in Variety as "a happy-sad drama of starstruck fever that lifts you up and sweeps you along, touching you down in a puddle of well-earned tears."[16]

The Aeronauts, based on James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell's famous 1862 flight, and starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones started its shoot in the summer of 2018. The script was written by Jack Thorne, their fifth collaboration, and Harper along with Todd Lieberman produced the film for Amazon Studios.[17] Until March 2020, The Aeronauts was the most watched film of all time on Amazon Prime.[18] Harper's choice of replacing Henry Coxwell, one of the two main male, historical characters, by a fictional, female protagonist named "Amelia Wren",[19] caused a controversy,[20][21] as well as a public protest by the Royal Society.[22] The director responded by justifying his decision as a "political act of representation." He told Time magazine that "we need more strong, brilliant, interesting female characters [in films]."[20] The Decider's Anna Menta remarked that the choice "makes all that backstory we get on Amelia’s dead husband —which is revealed via flashback— feel a bit meaningless."[23]


Year Name Notes
1998 Eyelines Short film
2004 Beat Short film
2006 Squat Street credited as director, TV mini-series
2006 Cubs Short film
2007 Coming Up credited as director, TV series, 1 episode
2007 Cherries Short film
2008 Dis/Connected TV film
2009 Demons credited as director, TV mini-series, 3 episodes
2010 The Scouting Book for Boys
2010 This Is England '86 credited as director, TV mini-series, 2 episodes
2009–2010 Misfits credited as director, TV series, 4 episodes
2011 The Borrowers TV movie
2011 The Swarm Short film
2013 Peaky Blinders credited as director, TV series, 3 episodes
2014 War Book
2015 The Woman in Black: Angel of Death
2015 War & Peace credited as director, TV series
2017 Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams credited as director, TV series
2018 Wild Rose
2019 The Aeronauts
TBA Heart of Stone Post-production


  1. ^ Luszowicz, Iwona (October 2016). "The Interview". The Young Quaker. No. 13. p. 10. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Wild Rose director Tom Harper: My old school inspired me". Camden New Journal. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  3. ^ "The BBC's War and Peace: 'Near the end I did worry, Oh God, have I ruined it?'". the Guardian. 2016-02-07. Retrieved 2021-04-12.
  4. ^ "Scouting Book for Boys competition". Southern Daily Echo. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  5. ^ "'Misfits' director Tom Harper to direct 'Woman in Black' follow-up". Independent. 15 October 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  6. ^ "Rotterdam: Tom Harper's 'War Book,' J.C. Chandor's 'A Most Violent Year' Bookend Fest". Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  7. ^ "War Book (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  8. ^ Baughan, Nikki (2015-08-03). "Ms". The List.
  9. ^ "War Book". Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  10. ^ "James Norton Joins Lily James, Paul Dano In BBC/Weinstein Co's 'War And Peace'". Deadline Hollywood. 28 December 2014.
  11. ^ "War and Peace wins rave reviews". BBC News. 27 October 2018. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Television Craft : Production Design in 2017". BAFTA. 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  13. ^ a b Jaafar, Nellie Andreeva,Ali (2016-05-03). "Tom Harper To Direct 'The Son' On AMC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2016-06-06). "Pierce Brosnan To Star In AMC Series 'The Son' In TV Return, Replaces Sam Neill". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  15. ^ Denise Petski (2017-03-21). "Timothy Spall To Star In "Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams' 'Commuter' Episode". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  16. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (2018-09-11). "Toronto Film Review: 'Wild Rose'". Variety. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  17. ^ Joey Paur (August 16, 2018). "Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne Featured in First Photo From Amazon's The Aeronauts". GeekTyrant. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  18. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 23, 2020). "Last Sundance's Top Buyer Amazon Is All In At Park City: Jennifer Salke Q&A".
  19. ^ Reed, Rex (December 5, 2019). "'The Aeronauts' Is an Entertaining Adventure About Daredevil Hot-Air Balloon Pioneers". The New York Observer. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  20. ^ a b De Oliveira, Patrick Luiz Sullivan (December 20, 2019). "'The Aeronauts' tries to fictionalize history and makes a big blunder". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  21. ^ Haywood, Christian (October 29, 2019). "Why The Aeronauts' Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are flying high for the Oscars". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  22. ^ Bodkin, Henry (August 15, 2018). "Ballooning hero 'airbrushed' from history to make way for female character in Eddie Redmayne film". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  23. ^ Menta, Anna (December 20, 2019). "'The Aeronauts' True Story: How Accurate Is the Eddie Redmayne Film?". The Decider. Retrieved 22 September 2022.

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