Stephen Arthur Frears (born 20 June 1941) is an English director and producer. He has directed numerous acclaimed films since the early 1980s, including My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), The Grifters (1990), High Fidelity (2000), The Queen (2006), Philomena (2013), Florence Foster Jenkins (2016), and Victoria & Abdul (2017). He has received two nominations for the Academy Award for Best Director.
Frears at the Odesa International Film Festival in 2014
Stephen Arthur Frears
20 June 1941
|Education||Gresham's School, Norfolk|
|Alma mater||Trinity College, Cambridge|
(m. 1968; div. early 1970s)
Frears is also known for his work on various television programs, including Fail Safe (2000), The Deal (2003), Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (2013), A Very English Scandal (2018), State of the Union (2019), and Quiz (2020). He has received four Primetime Emmy Award nominations, with one win.
Frears was born in Leicester, England. His mother, Ruth M. (née Danziger), was a social worker, and his father, Russell E. Frears, was a general practitioner and accountant. Frears was brought up Anglican, and did not find out that his mother was Jewish until he was in his late 20s.
From 1954 to 1959, Frears was educated at Gresham's School, a boarding independent school for boys (now co-educational) in the market town of Holt in Norfolk. This was followed by Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1960 to 1963.
At the University of Cambridge, Frears was assistant stage manager for the 1963 footlights Revue, which starred Tim Brooke-Taylor, John Cleese, Bill Oddie and David Hatch. After graduating from the University, Frears worked as an assistant director on the films Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) and if.... (1968). He spent most of his early directing career in television, mainly for the BBC but also for the commercial sector.
Frears contributed to several anthology series, such as the BBC's Play for Today. He produced a series of Alan Bennett's plays for LWT, taking responsibility for working in the gallery on The Old Crowd while Lindsay Anderson worked with the actors.
In the late 1980s, Frears came to international attention as a director of feature films. His directorial film debut was the noir detective spoof Gumshoe (1971) but it was not until his direction of My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) that he came to wider public notice. The interracial gay romance, based on a Hanif Kureishi screenplay and shot on 16 mm film, was released theatrically to great critical acclaim. It received an Academy Award nomination and two nominations for BAFTA Award. The success of the film helped launch the careers of both Frears and actor Daniel Day Lewis.
Frears worked with Adrian Edmondson on Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, a 45-minute programme starring Peter Cook in The Comic Strip Presents television comedy series that aired on Channel Four in 1988. In 1985, Frears had also directed a Comic Strip parody of Daphne Du Maurier's novel Rebecca.
Frears next directed the Joe Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears (1987), a collaboration with playwright Alan Bennett. His second film adapted from a Kureishi screenplay was Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987). Dangerous Liaisons (1988) was shot in France, with a cast that included Americans Glenn Close, John Malkovich, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Based on the late 18th-century French novel of romantic game playing and adapted by Christopher Hampton, the film received numerous Academy Awards and BAFTA nominations. Frears was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Direction. Frears had further critical success with his next film The Grifters (1990), another tale of con artists. The film earned Frears his first Academy Award nomination for best direction.
Frears directed The Queen (2006), that depicts the death of Princess Diana on 31 August 1997. The Queen also achieved immense critical acclaim, box-office success, and awards. Frears himself received his second Academy Award nomination for best direction, and actor Helen Mirren won numerous awards for playing the title role.
Frears' other films include Western The Hi-Lo Country (1998), which won him the best director award at the Berlin Film Festival, High Fidelity (2000), which features a number of scenes where star John Cusack addresses the audience directly, Dirty Pretty Things (2002), and the British theatre comedy Mrs Henderson Presents (2005).
Frears returned to directing for television with The Deal (2003), which depicts an alleged deal between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown over which of them should become leader of the Labour Party in 1994.
His Irish adoption drama, Philomena (2013), written by Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan, won the best screenplay award at the 2013 Venice Film Festival and the BAFTAS, and was nominated that year for Best Picture at the BAFTAs and the Academy Awards. It stars Coogan and Judi Dench. The same year, HBO released his television drama Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight, which depicts the US Supreme Court deliberation over banning Muhammad Ali from boxing for refusing to serve in the US Army during the Vietnam War.
Many of Frears' films are based on stories of living persons, but he has never sought to meet any of his subjects.
In 1968 Frears married Mary-Kay Wilmers, with whom he had two sons, Sam and Will Frears (a stage and film director). Frears left Wilmers while she was pregnant with their second son Will. They lived on Gloucester Crescent in Camden Town. The couple divorced in the early 1970s. The live-in nanny that Wilmers hired in the early 1980s, Nina Stibbe, wrote letters home describing the North London literati life; these were compiled and published, and turned into a 2016 TV series, Love, Nina.
In December 2019, along with 42 other leading cultural figures, Frears signed a letter endorsing the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership in the 2019 general election. The letter stated that "Labour's election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and the planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few."
|1967||The Burning||Short film|
|1985||My Beautiful Laundrette|
|1987||Prick Up Your Ears|
|1987||Sammy and Rosie Get Laid|
|1998||The Hi-Lo Country|
|2002||Dirty Pretty Things|
|2005||Mrs Henderson Presents|
|2012||Lay the Favorite|
|2016||Florence Foster Jenkins|
|2017||Victoria & Abdul|
|1969||Parkin's Patch||2 episodes|
|1969||Report: St - Ann's Nottingham||Documentary television film|
|1969||Tom Grattan's War||5 episodes|
|1972||A Day Out||Television film|
|1973||Full House||Episode: "#1.15"|
|1973||Sporting Scenes||Episode: "England, Their England"|
|1973||The Cricket Match||Television film|
|1974||Second City Firsts||Episode: "Match of the Day"|
|1975||Daft as a Bush||Television film|
|1975||Three Men in a Boat||Television film|
|1975||Play for Today||3 episodes|
|1976||BBC2 Playhouse||2 episodes|
|1977||ITV Play of the Week||2 episodes|
|1977||ITV Playhouse||2 episodes; also producer|
|1977||Black Christmas||Television film|
|1978||Me! I'm Afraid of Virginia Woolf||Television film; also producer|
|1978||Doris and Doreen||Television film; also producer|
|1979||Afternoon Off||Television film; also producer|
|1979||One Fine Day||Television film; also producer|
|1980||Bloody Kids||Television film|
|1983||Walter and June||Television film|
|1983||Saigon: Year of the Cat||Television film|
|1983||The Last Company Car||Television film|
|1984||The Comic Strip Presents...||3 episodes|
|1984||December Flower||Television film|
|1986–1993||Screen Two||2 episodes|
|2000||Fail Safe||Television film|
|2003||The Deal||Television film|
|2013||Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight||Television film|
|2018||A Very English Scandal||Miniseries; also executive producer|
|2019||State of the Union||Miniseries; also executive producer|
|2019||The Loudest Voice||Episode: "2015"|
|2020||Quiz||Miniseries; also executive producer|||
Awards and honoursEdit
Over his distinguished career, Frears has amassed numerous awards and nominations, including two Academy Award nominations, four Primetime Emmy Award nominations (one win), a Golden Globe Award nomination, and 17 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award nominations (three wins).
In 1990, Frears earned his first Academy Award nomination for directing the film The Grifters. In 2006, he earned his second nomination for The Queen. At the Primetime Emmy Awards, he was nominated for Fail Safe (2000), Muhammad Ali's Greatest Fight (2013), and A Very English Scandal (2019), before winning for State of the Union (2019). He has also been acknowledged by the Cannes, Berlin, Venice, and Toronto film festivals.
- "Real-life hero". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
- "The 100 most powerful people in British culture: 61-80". The Telegraph. 18 March 2016.
- "Stephen Frears Biography". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
- "Hidden Heritage Inspires Director" Archived 10 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Naomi Pfefferman, "Frears and Pfeiffer reunite for Colette courtesan drama ‘Chéri’", Jewish Journal, 20 May 2009. Archived 21 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
- "Nick Curtis, "'I hope you find it vulgar'"". Evening Standard. 10 November 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
- "Film director returns to Gresham's". Gresham's School. Norfolk. February 2017. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
- "Real-life hero". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
- New Arts Theatre Club programme (July 1963)
- Husam sam Asi (25 November 2015). "Stephen Frears on telling real life stories in cinema – Interview". Youtube. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
- National Life Stories, 'Jellicoe, Ann (1 of 11) National Life Stories Collection: The Legacy of the English Stage Company', The British Library Board, 2008. Retrieved 21 February 2018
- Wroe, Nicholas, "Mary-Kay Wilmers: 'I like difficult women. Not just because I'm a bit difficult myself. I like their complication'" (A Life In... Books), The Guardian, 24 October 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
- Scaffold, "Lily the Pink" lyrics. Archived 23 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Elgot, Jessica (24 April 2015). "Celebrities sign statement of support for Caroline Lucas – but not the Greens". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
- "Vote for hope and a decent future". The Guardian. 3 December 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
- Proctor, Kate (3 December 2019). "Coogan and Klein lead cultural figures backing Corbyn and Labour". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2019.
- "Matthew Macfadyen, Michael Sheen to star in miniseries 'Quiz'".
- "Stephen Frears reçoit les insignes de commandeur des Arts et des Lettres" (in French). Agence France-Presse. 18 March 2009. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2009.
- "Award Winners". Odessa International Film Festival (in Russian). Archived from the original on 26 September 2015.
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