Paul Greengrass (born 13 August 1955) is an English film director, film producer, screenwriter and former journalist. He specialises in dramatisations of real-life events and is known for his signature use of hand-held cameras. His early film Bloody Sunday won the Golden Bear at 52nd Berlin International Film Festival. Other films he has directed include three in the Bourne action/thriller series: The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and Jason Bourne (2016); United 93 (2006), for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Director, and received an Academy Award for Best Director nomination, Green Zone (2010) and Captain Phillips (2013). In 2004 he co-wrote and produced the film Omagh, which won British Academy Television Award.
Greengrass at the Bourne Ultimatum premiere at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California on 25 July 2007
|Alma mater||Queens' College, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, producer|
|Board member of||Directors UK (president)|
In 2007 Greengrass co-founded Directors UK, a professional organization of British filmmakers, and was its first President until 2014. In 2008 The Telegraph named him among the most influential people in British culture. In 2017, Greengrass was honoured with a British Film Institute Fellowship. Accepting the Fellowship at the ceremony, he acknowledged that it had been a difficult week for the film industry, on the day that Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He said the industry had to act and words weren't enough.
Greengrass was born 13 August 1955 in Cheam, Surrey, England. His mother was a teacher and his father a river pilot and merchant seaman. He is the brother of noted English historian Mark Greengrass.
Greengrass was educated at Westcourt Primary School, Gravesend Grammar School and Sevenoaks School and attended Queens' College, Cambridge, where he studied English Literature at the same time as Roger Michell. Greengrass was made an Honorary Fellow of Queens College in 2008. In October 2012, he received an honorary degree from Kingston University in recognition of his “outstanding contribution to television and cinema". Greengrass is a self-confessed Crystal Palace supporter.
He first worked as a director in the 1980s, for the ITV current affairs programme World in Action; his investigation of timber-framed house construction has been cited as preventing its widespread adoption in Britain. At the same time he co-authored the notorious book Spycatcher with Peter Wright, former assistant director of MI5, which contained enough sensitive information that the British Government made an unsuccessful attempt to ban it.
He then moved into drama, directing non-fiction made-for-television films such as The One That Got Away, based on Chris Ryan's book about SAS actions in the Gulf War and The Fix, based on the story of the betting scandal which shook British football in 1964.
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.
Greengrass directed The Murder of Stephen Lawrence (1999), which told the story of Stephen Lawrence, a black youth whose murder was not properly investigated by the Metropolitan Police, and his mother's investigations, which led to accusations about institutional racism in the police.
Bloody Sunday (2002), depicted the 1972 Bloody Sunday shootings of Irish anti-internment activists by British soldiers 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). Mullan was a schoolboy witness of the events of Bloody Sunday. The book is credited as a major catalyst in the establishment of the new Bloody Sunday Inquiry chaired by Lord Saville. The inquiry, the longest running and most expensive in British legal history, led to an historic apology by Prime Minister David Cameron on 15 June 2010. Mullan was co-producer and actor in Bloody Sunday.
In 2004 Paul 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 Paul Greengrass had not directed, instead being credited as a writer and producer, because of his work on The Bourne Supremacy. Instead 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, after the first film's director, Doug Liman, left the project. The film starred Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, an amnesiac who realises he was once a top CIA assassin and is now being pursued by his former employers. It proved to be an unexpectedly enormous financial and critical success, and secured Greengrass's reputation and ability to get his smaller, more personal films made.
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' quasi-documentary-style directing. 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 BAFTA nominations for Best Original Screenplay.
He followed this with a return to the Bourne franchise. The Bourne Ultimatum, released in 2007, was an even bigger success than the previous two films and provided him with yet another BAFTA nomination for Best Director at the 61st British Academy Film Awards.
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. The film was first announced as being based on the bestselling, award-winning non-fiction book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by the Washington Post's Baghdad bureau chief, Rajiv Chandrasekaran. However 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, and starred Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi and Faysal Ahmed. It was shot in 2012 in Massachusetts, Virginia and Malta and was released on 11 October 2013.
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 October 10, 2018.
It was announced in 2011 that he would direct an adaptation of Robert Harris's bestselling novel The Fear Index, a thriller centring on the connection of a fictional Geneva hedge fund to the 2010 Flash Crash. The film will be produced by Twentieth Century Fox.
In 2017 it was announced Greengrass would direct and produce Ness, a film about Eliot Ness in the 1960s. The screenplay was written by Brian Helgeland who collaborated with Greengrass on Green Zone and The Bourne Supremacy.
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- Thorpe, Vanessa (5 August 2007). "Hollywood's Favourite Brit". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
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- "Paul Greengrass: Greengrass was made an Honorary Fellow of Queens'College in 2008. Description". AMC. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
- "Stay true to your point of view, Bourne director says". Kingston University. London. 27 November 2012.
- Sutherland, Lyall (2 December 2004). "The timber-frame two and the wild, wild net". Architects' Journal.
- "Paul Greengrass steps down as Directors UK President". Directors UK. 25 July 2014.
- "Inside Story: In the right direction - the cream of Britain's television directing talent". The Independent. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
- Garrett, Diane (6 June 2007). "Damon, Greengrass re-teaming". Variety. Retrieved 22 January 2008.
- Eisenberg, Eric (19 October 2015). "Matt Damon Will Be Jason Bourne Again, Here Are The Details". Cinema Blend.
- Fleming Jr, Mike. "Netflix Lands Paul Greengrass Pic About Norwegian Terrorist Who Killed 77". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- Fleming Jr, Mike (25 August 2011). "Paul Greengrass In 'Fear Index', Robert Zemeckis Out Of 'Replay' As He Takes 'Flight' With Denzel Washington". Deadline Hollywood.
- Ford, Rebecca (23 July 2013). "Paul Greengrass in Talks for Aaron Sorkin-Penned 'The Trial of the Chicago 7'". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Fleming Jr, Mike (19 November 2014). "Paul Greengrass Eyes George Orwell's '1984'; 'Finding Neverland's' James Graham To Write Script". Deadline Hollywood.
- Carnevale, Rob. "Calling the Shots: No.40: Paul Greengrass". BBC. Retrieved 23 March 2017.
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