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Stephen Arthur Frears (born 20 June 1941) is an Englishmarker film director.

Early life

Frears was born in Leicestermarker, Englandmarker to Ruth M., a social worker, and Dr. Russell E. Frears, a general practitioner and accountant. He did not find out that his mother was Jewish until he was in his late 20s. He was educated at Gresham's Schoolmarker, Norfolk from 1954 to 1959, and later went on to study law at Trinity College, Cambridgemarker from 1960 to 1963.


After graduating from Cambridge, Frears worked as an assistant director on Morgan! (1966) and if.... (1968), but most of his early directing career was spent in television mainly for the BBC, but also for the commercial sector. He contributed to several high profile anthology series such as the BBC's Play for Today, and 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 mid-1980s, Frears came to international attention as an important director of British and Americamarker films. His first film was Gumshoe (1971), but it was his production of the Hanif Kureishi screenplay My Beautiful Laundrette for Channel 4 in 1985 that unexpectedly led to his wider notice. The production, shot on 16 mm film, was released theatrically to great acclaim, and received a nomination for an Academy Award and two nominations for BAFTA Awards. Frears next directed another successful British film, the Joe Orton biopic Prick Up Your Ears (1987), another collaboration with Alan Bennett, which was followed by a second film from a Hanif Kureishi screenplay, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (also 1987). The following year he made his Hollywoodmarker debut with Dangerous Liaisons. The film was quite successful at the box office. It received numerous nominations for Academy Awards and BAFTA Awards, and Frear himself was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Direction. Frears had another critical success with The Grifters (1990), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. His film Hero (1992), starring Dustin Hoffman, was a major box office disappointment. He was also nominated for a Razzie Award for his direction of Mary Reilly (1996).

Frears has since directed a number of successful films in both Britain and America, including The Hi-Lo Country (1998), High Fidelity (2000), Dirty Pretty Things (2003) and Mrs Henderson Presents starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. In recent years he has also occasionally returned to directing for television, perhaps most notably The Deal, a dramatised account of the alleged deal between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to decide which of them should become leader of the Labour Party in 1994, for Channel 4 in 2003. His film, The Queen (2006), was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It achieved immense critical acclaim, box office success and awards. He received his second Academy Award nomination for his direction of the film, and Helen Mirren won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1987, he worked with comedian Adrian Edmondson for Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, also starring Peter Cook for a 45 minute programme from the cult series The Comic Strip Presents. In 1985 he had also directed a Comic Strip parody of Rebecca with the usual Comic Strip ensemble.

Frears has also directed two films based on stories by Roddy Doyle, The Snapper and The Van. He holds the "David Lean Chair in Fiction Direction" from the National Film and Television Schoolmarker in Beaconsfield, England where he teaches frequently.

Personal life

Frears currently lives in London with his wife, the painter Anne Rothenstein, and his two younger children Frankie and Lola. He also has two children, Sam and Will (a stage and film director), from his previous marriage to Mary-Kay Wilmers. Early in his career he made a programme featuring the band The Scaffold and is name checked in their hit song, "Lily the Pink".



Feature Films



  1. Stephen Frears Biography
  2. Hidden Heritage Inspires Director

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