An Evening with Stephen Frears: Gumshoe to Dirty Pretty Things

Stephen Frears Evening

An Evening with Stephen Frears: Gumshoe to Dirty Pretty Things

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"You can't lose your independence of mind and to be fair, the Americans give me an easy ride. They take one look (at my films) and think, give him whatever he wants—but not too much money—because he's never going to do what he's told." - Stephen Frears

Armed with a keen visual awareness and masterful skill for storytelling, Stephen Frears has established himself as a leading director in contemporary cinema. His films are filled with polished beauty and emotion, always reaching beyond their settings in a never-ending exploration of the human spirit. At once taut and humorous, elegant and sarcastic, Frears' films continue to show that he is a director of major significance and inventiveness.

After studying law at Cambridge, Frears' career began in British television ("the least worst television in the world," as Milton Schuman tagged it). Gumshoe, his first feature, was a satire on American detective films starring Albert Finney as a romantic dreamer who envisions himself as a private eye. In 1984, Frears directed The Hit, a beautifully crafted thriller featuring Terence Stamp as an informer and John Hurt as the man hired to capture Stamp. In 1985, Frears caught the international spotlight with My Beautiful Laundrette. Intended for the small screen, the film's surprise success earned it a theatrical release and an Academy Award nomination, sending the industry clamoring with offers for Frears' distinctive talent. But rather than rush to Hollywood, Frears collaborated on a second film with Hanif Kureishi (screenwriter for My Beautiful Laundrette) making Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, a spicy and witty invitation into the lives of three couples, as they fumble their way through love and life. His third acclaimed feature, Prick up Your Ears, starring Gary Oldman, is a haunting tale of the downtrodden life of brilliant London playwright Joe Orton—and a film that garnered a Golden Globe nomination as well as major accolades around the world.

Hollywood finally lured Frears into the American studio system with the impeccable and sinister, big-budget Dangerous Liaisons, starring John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer and Glenn Close. Dangerous Liaisons went on to earn several Academy Awards and caught the eye of Martin Scorsese, who produced Frears' next film, The Grifters, winning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Affirmed as an internationally successful filmmaker, Frears has directed such accomplished actors as Dustin Hoffman in Hero; Julia Roberts and John Malkovich in Mary Reilly; Woody Harrelson in The Hi-Lo Country; and John Cusack in High Fidelity; while always maintaining his roots in his native England with masterpieces like The Snapper, The Van, Liam, and his latest Dirty Pretty Things.

Stephen Frears has played both sides of the fence in numerous ways: independent and Hollywood, intimate story and epic story, modern setting and period piece. He has built an unparalleled body of work defined by superb craftsmanship and an ability to work with actors on levels few can accomplish. And while never fearing to illustrate the underbelly of a tragic world or the ugly side of human nature, Frears continues to portray hope, love, humor or the strengths and weaknesses we all share. - Mike Rabehl