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Roger Lindsey Donaldson ONZM (born 15 November 1945) is an Australian-born New Zealand film director, producer and writer whose films include the acclaimed 1981 relationship drama Smash Palace, and a run of titles shot in the United States, including the Kevin Costner films No Way Out (1987) and Thirteen Days (2000), and the 1997 disaster film Dante's Peak. He has worked twice with actors Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan, Anthony Hopkins and Michael Madsen.

Roger Donaldson

Roger Lindsey Donaldson

(1945-11-15) 15 November 1945 (ageĀ 74)
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
OccupationFilm producer, director, writer
RelativesChris Donaldson (son)

Life and careerEdit

Donaldson was born in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, and in 1965 emigrated to New Zealand, where he established a small still photography business and began making adverts. Donaldson was also directing documentaries, including an adventure series featuring Everest-conquering New Zealander Edmund Hillary, and his first ventures into drama. Donaldson and actor/director Ian Mune collaborated on a number of projects for television, including anthology series Winners and Losers, based on short stories by New Zealand authors.

In 1976, Donaldson directed and produced his first feature Sleeping Dogs. The film starred Mune and Sam Neill as two men fighting for their lives in a totalitarian New Zealand. He followed it with Smash Palace, starring Bruno Lawrence as a man who kidnaps his daughter after his marriage disintegrates.

Donaldson's international break came when producer Dino de Laurentiis invited him to helm a version of Mutiny on the Bounty, after Lawrence of Arabia director David Lean left the project. The film, released as The Bounty, starred Anthony Hopkins as William Bligh and Mel Gibson as mutineer Fletcher Christian. Donaldson was nominated for a Golden Palm at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival for this film.

Donaldson went on to direct many popular and successful movies, including his breakthrough American hit thriller No Way Out (starring Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman), barmen romp Cocktail (starring Bryan Brown and Tom Cruise), volcano disaster movie Dante's Peak (starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton), and Thirteen Days (starring Kevin Costner), an account of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He also directed science fiction tale Species, and in 2003, the Al Pacino and Colin Farrell film The Recruit.

His son Chris has represented New Zealand at Olympic level in athletics in the 100 m and 200 m events.[1]

In the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours, Donaldson was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to film.[2]




  • Sleeping Dogs (1977)
  • Smash Palace (1981)
  • Cadillac Man (1990)
  • Fearless (1999) (TV) (executive producer)
  • The World's Fastest Indian (2005)


  • Smash Palace (1981)
  • The World's Fastest Indian (2005)
  • "McLaren" (2017)

Art directorEdit

  • Sleeping Dogs (1977)


  1. ^ entry for Chris Donaldson
  2. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2018". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  3. ^ McNary, Dave. "Roger Donaldson to Direct Racial Drama 'Jena Six' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  4. ^ Roger Donaldson To Direct Jack The Ripper Thriller Immortal ...

External linksEdit