Simon Alexander West (born 1961)[1] is an English film director and producer. He has primarily worked in the action genre, most notably as the director of the films Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Mechanic, and The Expendables 2. Outside of action, he also directed the films The General's Daughter and When a Stranger Calls. Prior to his film career, West served as the director for music videos, including "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley.[2]

Simon West
Simon Alexander West

1961 (age 60–61)
  • Film director
  • film producer
Years active1986–present
Notable work

Early lifeEdit

West was born in Letchworth, Hertfordshire. He began his career as an assistant film editor with the BBC Film Department, where he worked on dramas and documentaries.[3] He then left the BBC to work on commercials and music videos.[3]



West's directorial debut in 1997 with Con Air, starring Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, and John Malkovich.[3][4]


West directed the 2001 action film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Although it's an adaptation of the popular video game Tomb Raider, the development of the film was influenced by a market that "wasn't used to women leading summer blockbusters" (with the exception of the Alien film series).[5] This factor influenced his decision to cast Angelina Jolie as Croft, though she was not well known (she was not the studio's first choice, in contrast to Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ashley Judd, and Jennifer Lopez).[5] While Lara Croft led to box office totals that were the highest for a female-led action film at that time, ($131 million), inspired theme park rides, led to a sequel, and made a star of Jolie,[6] West was disappointed that it did not lead to similar films. He noted that "at the time, the studio was incredibly nervous at what the outcome could have been. I’m surprised it's taken so long [for other female-fronted action stories to rise up], because I thought that two or three years after, there’d be 10 other movies like it cashing in on its success ...[b]ut it's amazing how things work so slowly. But finally The Hunger Games and Patty JenkinsWonder Woman have caught up!"[5]

Joey Nolfi (Entertainment Weekly) states that West "molded his heroine – never bogged down by romantic subplots – as a badass genre role model for girls, with more scenes of assured tomb raiding and less overt sexuality" (West notes to have done so would have "probably would’ve been the death of the film and the character").[6] Critic Cristina Lucia Stasia also argues that the film Lara Croft distinguished itself from other popular "girl power" shows and films of the same period: The Matrix (1999), Charles Angels (2000), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Dark Angel (2000), and Alias (2001). She suggests that this was due to the fact that "Simon West, the director of Tomb Raider, foregrounds [a] tension between female sexuality and female action heroes when he argues that ‘Angelina should be a role model for action actors. We turned her into something you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley – but then again you would."[7]


West would eventually work on a number of action films including the 2012 film Expendables 2 with Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.[8] He also reunited with Nicolas Cage in 2012 for Stolen.[8] In 2015, he directed the crime thriller film Wild Card with Jason Statham. It is a remake of the 1986 film Heat, based on the novel of the same name by William Goldman.[8] In 2017 West directed his first feature musical comedy Gun Shy starring Antonio Banderas and based on the novel Salty by Mark Haskhell Smith.[9] West directed the 2019 big-budget disaster movie from China, Skyfire,[10][11] and will also direct another Chinese action film, The Legend Hunters.[10]



Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1997 Con Air Yes No No
1999 The General's Daughter Yes No No
2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider Yes No Yes Adaptation
Black Hawk Down No Yes No Executive producer
2006 When a Stranger Calls Yes No No
2011 The Mechanic Yes No No
2012 The Expendables 2 Yes No No
Stolen Yes No No
2015 Wild Card Yes No No
Night of the Living Dead: Darkest Dawn No Yes No
2016 Gun Shy Yes No No
2017 Stratton Yes Yes No
2019 Skyfire Yes No No
TBA The Legend Hunters Yes No No Co-directed with Li Yifan


Year Title Director Executive


2003 Keen Eddie Yes No 2 episodes
2005 Close to Home Yes No 1 episode
2006 Split Decision Yes No Unsold pilot
2010 Human Target Yes No 1 episode
2011 The Cape Yes No 1 episode
2017 The Saint No Yes Television film
2022 Sin límites (Boundless) Yes Miniseries

Music videosEdit

Year Title Artist(s) Notes
1986 "Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)" Mel & Kim
1987 "Respectable"
"Never Gonna Give You Up" Rick Astley
1992 "Everybody Gets a Second Chance" Mike and the Mechanics


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 22 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Director Simon West: From Rick Astley to Con Air to Skyfire (Interview)". AMFM 18 January 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b c West, Simon. "About". Official Website. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  4. ^ Ollove, Michael (6 June 1997). "'Con Air' is one fast and funny joy ride Review: Nicolas Cage is over the top, as he should be in this over-the-top thriller". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Nolfi, Joey (8 March 2018). "Tomb Raider director fought for Angelina Jolie as 'wicked' Lara Croft over 'safer' actresses". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  6. ^ a b Nolfi, Joey (16 March 2018). "Dedicated to the Croft: Alicia Vikander, Tomb Raider team on Lara's superheroic legacy". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  7. ^ Stasia, Cristina Lucia (2004). "'Wham! Bam! Thank you Ma'am!': The New Public/Private Female Action Hero". In Gillis, Stacey (ed.). Third Wave Feminism: A Critical Exploration. New York: Palgrave. p. 178.
  8. ^ a b c Lambie, Ryan (5 August 2013). "Director Simon West: Stolen, Con Air, Rick Astley and more". Den of Geek. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  9. ^ Simon West unloads “Gun Shy” Film Daily, 8 January 2018
  10. ^ a b Davis, Rebecca (15 June 2019). "Why Simon West Is Making Movies in China (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  11. ^ Davis, Rebecca (14 May 2019). "Cannes: 'Skyfire,' China's First Big-Budget Disaster Movie, Shopped by Meridian Ent. (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 14 May 2019.

External linksEdit