Paul Greengrass

Paul Greengrass

Born in Cheam, Surrey, England, Greengrass showed an interest in film at an early age. While still in secondary school, he directed several short Super-8 films using items found in an art classroom. His passion for film carried him through Cambridge University and into Granada Television, which paved a path for the first 10 years of his career at "World in Action" (ITV, 1963-1998), a hard-hitting TV documentary series which took him around the world in pursuit of stories. For his efforts, he took home a BAFTA award. During the 1980s, Greengrass also co-authored the controversial book Spycatcher with former MI5 Assistant Director, Peter Wright. The book, which detailed Wright's attempts to ferret out a Russian spy from the ranks of British intelligence, was banned by the government and held from release until 1988. Greengrass returned to directing with "Resurrection" (1989), a gritty and bleak drama about a soldier (David Thewlis) who is abandoned by his troops during the Falklands War. The picture was nominated for a Golden Bear and won several jury awards at the Berlin Film Festival.Greengrass moved on to direct several television movies, including "Open Fire" (1994), about a police scandal involving the most wanted criminal in the United Kingdom; "The One that Got Away" (1996), about a doomed covert mission in the first Gulf War; and "The Murder of Stephen Lawrence" (1999) which detailed the bungled investigation of a racial murder. The last film earned him a BAFTA Award for Best Single Drama in 2000. In 1998, Greengrass returned to theatrical features with "The Theory of Flight," a dark and difficult comedy-drama about a suicidal man (Kenneth Branagh) who becomes involved with a woman (Helena Bonham Carter) suffering from a degenerative neurological disease. The picture earned him another Best Film Award; this time from the Brussels Film Festival in 1999. He followed up with "Bloody Sunday" (2002), which brought him even further acclaim with its documentary-style coverage of a 1972 protest in Northern Ireland that resulted in the deaths of 13 people at the hands of British troops. A worldwide success, the film netted 17 awards, including the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and 21 overall nominations - all of which established Greengrass as a director to watch on the international front.Greengrass followed all his acclaimed works by writing and producing "Omagh" (2004), director Pete Travis' depiction of a 1998 bombing by the IRA and its effects on a family that loses a son in the tragedy. His efforts yielded more praise from the world film community, as well as a barrage of awards, including another BAFTA for Best Single Drama. In 2004, Greengrass made a more-than-capable leap into mainstream entertainment by helming "The Bourne Supremacy," the successful sequel to "The Bourne Identity" (2002). His skill with a hand-held camera, as well as with shadowy political dealings, gave the film a gritty edge that was missing from the original. Audiences responded to the change by making it a box office hit to the tune of $175 million in the United States alone. Greengrass also directed the third Bourne feature, "The Bourne Ultimatum" (2007), with Matt Damon returning once again as the super-spy Jason Bourne. Even more taut and action-packed than its predecessor, the third and presumably final installment to the series took in a cool $227 million in domestic box office, making it the most successful film in the series.In 2006, Greengrass returned to his docudrama roots with "United 93," a powerful look at the events that took place on that fateful flight on September 11th, and how its passengers banded together at the cost of their own lives to thwart the plane from reaching its final destination of Washington, D.C. At once extremely suspenseful and respectful to the memories of the persons depicted in the film, "United 93" earned almost unanimous acclaim from critics across the country, including the New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Film Critics associations, as well as the American Film Institute, which named it among the best films of 2006. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences agreed, bestowing upon Greengrass an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Meanwhile, Greengrass moved on to direct "Green Zone" (2010), an action thriller starring Matt Damon as a rogue U.S. Army officer who hunts for weapons of mass destruction in the midst of ever-increasing violence during the early days of the Iraq War.