Marc Forster

Marc Forster

Born in the remote town of Illertissen, Neu-Ulm, in Bavaria, West Germany, he was the son of a German doctor and a Swiss architect. The family relocated from Germany to a remote town in Switzerland after incurring the wrath of the German terrorist organization, the Baader-Meinhoff Group. Forster did not even see his first film until the age of 12. That picture, "Apocalypse Now," left the preteen so bowled over by the experience that he decided to devote his life to filmmaking.He left Switzerland at the age of 20 for New York City, where he studied film at New York University. There, he helmed several documentaries before embarking on his first feature in 1995. "Loungers" was a low-budget experimental effort that displayed his knack for balancing thoughtful drama with stylish visuals, earning him the Audience Award for Best Feature at the Slamdance Film Festival the following year. Armed with a well-received debut film, he toiled for the next four years to complete its follow-up, "Everything Put Together" (2000). A sober, mournful drama about a couple (Radha Mitchell and Justin Louis) who struggle to carry on with their lives after the loss of their baby, the moody atmospherics of its digital video photography and well-tuned performances won Forster considerable praise from the mainstream press. The picture also claimed the Grand Jury Prize from the Sundance Film Festival.Forster's first effort for Hollywood came with "Monster's Ball" (2001), a grim drama about the unlikely romance between a racist prison guard (Billy Bob Thornton) and the wife (Halle Berry) of a death row inmate. A complex and emotionally charged drama that had struggled to find a willing director for over five years, "Monster's Ball" was a critical triumph for both Forster and Berry, who won an Academy Award for her devastating performance. The film also served to further solidify Forster's reputation as one of the most accomplished directors of the new millennium.Besieged by offers for his next project, Forster ultimately chose "Finding Neverland" (2004) as the follow-up to "Monster's Ball." At first blush, the film could not have differed more from its predecessor - a period piece about the author J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and his relationship with a woman (Kate Winslet) and her sons, the picture actually echoed "Monster's Ball" in its depiction of society's impact on a "forbidden" relationship between a married man and a widow. Forster again found the emotional heart at the center of the turmoil that swirled around his characters, and was richly rewarded by audiences and critics alike. Among its honors were Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, and a National Board of Review Award for Best Film.While waiting for Miramax to release "Neverland" - Columbia Pictures, which owned the rights to Barrie's play "Peter Pan," initially refused to allow the company to depict scenes from the production in their film - Forster went to work on his next film, the psychological thriller "Stay" (2005). A highly stylized effort about a psychiatrist (Ewan McGregor) whose work with a new patient (Ryan Gosling) causes him to lose his grasp on reality, the film's references to Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (1958) and Shakespeare's "Hamlet" seemed to deter audiences, as did frequent release schedule re-shuffling. A dismal failure at the box office, "Stay" seemed to indicate a sea change in Forster's fortunes.Both of his subsequent efforts, "Stranger than Fiction" and "The Kite Runner" were met with considerable anticipation - the former because of its top-notch cast led by Will Ferrell; the latter, an adaptation of the popular novel by Khaled Hosseini. However, neither was met with much of a response by moviegoers - "Fiction," about a nebbish businessman (Ferrell) who discovers that his life is apparently the latest work of an author (Emma Thompson), earned a modest, arthouse-sized take but failed to bring in Ferrell's sizable audience. "Runner," which concerned a boy from Afghanistan who struggles with guilt over the abandonment of his servant during the Soviet takeover, was met with the same fate as other pictures set in the Middle East that were released during the conflict in Iraq. However, it received a Best Foreign Language nomination from the Golden Globe Awards in 2008. Forster seemed to be among the most unlikely of choices to helm a James Bond film, but he proved himself up to the task by directing "Quantum of Solace" (2008), the high-energy sequel to "Casino Royale" (2006), which marked the debut of Daniel Craig as Bond. Forster sought to further humanize the super agent by focusing on his emotional struggles - namely, his desire to avenge his beloved Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) - while maintaining a balance with the franchise's action sequences and glamorous locations. The result was a brooding Bond picture that saw the suave Double-0 spy turn cold-blooded killer in his pursuit of the terrorist organization that killed Lynd. Critics were sharply divided by the end result, with many citing the picture as heavy-handed and needlessly violent in many scenes. Audiences, however, turned out in droves, with "Quantum" breaking box office records for both the Bond series and national averages on the whole in its opening weekends in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.