Jeremy Irons

3.3954668470447 (2956)
Posted by bender 04/30/2009 @ 22:12

Tags : jeremy irons, actors and actresses, entertainment

News headlines
New on DVD: 'Gran Torino,' 'Woodstock' - USA Today
And the subject matter isn't exactly tepid: This is the fact-based tragedy of a sad-sack French diplomat ( Jeremy Irons ) who spilled secrets to his lover, a Chinese diva/spy (John Lone) who kept the basic secret that he was a guy....
Irons has the Bard's mettle - The West Australian
With his clear diction and melodious British tones, Jeremy Irons is perfect for period dramas. The 60-year old actor, who rose to fame in television's Brideshead Revisited and who more recently appeared in the fantasy movie Eragon and the western...
Jeremy Irons Announces Theater Masters' 2009 Visionary Award Winners - Broadway World
Broadway and film star Jeremy Irons announced the second annual Theater Masters' Visionary Award winners on Thursday, May 14th. at a press reception. The 2009 Visionary Award Winners are Maria Alexandria Beech and Zayd Dohrn with New York's Primary...
Model news round-up: Natalia Vodianova has designs; a Jagger does ... - Catwalk Queen
The actress's male equivalent for the retailer's menswear ads is Max Irons, son of Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack. The 23-year-old British actor already has some solid acting credentials, including Dorian Gray, under his belt....
The Mysteries: YIIMIMANGALISO Returns To London, Plays The Garrick ... - Broadway World
His theatre credits include the Olivier award-winning The Magic Flute, Christopher Hampton's Embers starring Jeremy Irons, directed by Michael Blakemore and Hugh Whitemore's adaptation of Pirandello's As You Desire Me, directed by Jonathan Kent...
Get Reel: Biopics are worth their weight in Oscar gold - Wellsville Daily Reporter
In this decade, Oscars went to Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bulow, who was accused of attempted murder in "Reversal of Fortune" (1990), Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen Prejean, who fought the death penalty in "Dead Man Walking" (1995), Geoffrey Rush as...
Pharmaceutical companies spending less on Minnesota doctors - Pioneer Press
"Across the whole state, I think people are becoming more aware of the potential conflict of interest" for doctors with financial ties to drug companies, said Dr. Kenneth Irons, the community clinics director for Duluth-based SMDC Health Systems,...
Duncan Jones' (Inter)stellar Debut - IFC
Then we watched the "Dead Ringers" Criterion DVD, which -- speaking of making-ofs -- has a fantastic feature with some of the original raw rushes of how they shot the scenes where Jeremy Irons plays multiple characters. That was basically a film school...
'My Identity' Wins Human Rights Comp - The Irish Film Television Network
Also judging the competition last night were director Jim Sheridan, filmmaker Rebecca Miller, actors Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cuscak and Senator David Norris. The winner of last night's competition will receive a place in the 2009 Summer School on...
Max Irons, the new He image for MANGO -
The son of actor parents, he has inherited the elegance and talent of his father, Jeremy Irons, and his passion for the theatre from his mother, the renowned Irish actress Sinéad Cusack, and from his famous grandfather, Cyril Cusack....

Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons cropped.jpg

Jeremy John Irons (born 19 September 1948) is an English film, television and stage actor. He has won an Academy Award, a Tony Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.

Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, the son of Barbara Anne Brereton Brymer Sharpe Irons (née Sharpe), a housewife (1914–1999), and Paul Dugan Irons (June 1913 in Croydon – 1983), an accountant. Part of his maternal ancestry is Irish, and his great-grandfather was one of the first Metropolitan Policemen and later a Chartist. Irons has a brother, Christopher (born 1943) and a sister, Felicity Anne (born 1944), both older. He was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset, (c. 1962–1966). He achieved some fame as the drummer and harmonica player (most memorably for his rendition of "Moon River" on harmonica) in a four-man school band called the Four Pillars of Wisdom. They performed, in a classroom normally used as a physics lab, for the entertainment of boys compulsorily exiled from their houses for two hours on Sunday afternoons. He was also known within Abbey House as half of a comic duo performing skits on Halloween and at end-of-term House Suppers.

Irons trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and is now president of its fundraising appeal. He performed a number of plays and supported himself by busking on the streets of Bristol, before appearing on the London stage as John the Baptist and Judas opposite David Essex in Godspell, which opened at the Round House on 17 November 1971 before transferring to Wyndham's Theatre playing a total of 1,128 performances.

Irons was bestowed an Honorary-Life Membership by the Law Society (University College Dublin) in September 2008, in honour of his contribution to television, film, audio, music and theatre.

He made several appearances on British television, including the children's television series Play Away and as Franz Liszt in the BBC 1974 series Notorious Woman. More significantly he starred in the 13-part adaptation of H.E. Bates' novel Love for Lydia for London Weekend Television (1977), and attracted attention for his key role as the pipe-smoking German student, a romantic pairing with Judi Dench in Harold Pinter's screenplay adaptation of Aidan Higgins' novel Langrishe, Go Down for BBC television (1978).

The role which brought him fame was that of Charles Ryder in the television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (1981). Brideshead reunited him with Anthony Andrews, with whom he had appeared in The Pallisers seven years earlier. In the same year he starred in the film The French Lieutenant's Woman opposite Meryl Streep.

Almost as a 'lap of honour' after these major successes, in 1982 he played the leading role of an exiled Polish building contractor, working in the Twickenham area of South West London, in Jerzy Skolimowski's independent film Moonlighting, widely seen on television, a performance which extended his acting range. Irons voiced Devious Diesel in Thomas and Friends.

In 2005, Irons won both an Emmy award and a Golden Globe award for his supporting role in the TV mini-series, Elizabeth I. A year later Irons was one of the participants in the third series of the BBC documentary series Who Do You Think You Are? In 2008 he played Lord Vetinari in Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic, an adaptation for Sky One.

On 6 November 2008, TV Guide reported he will star as photographer Alfred Stieglitz with Joan Allen as painter Georgia O’Keeffe, in a Lifetime Television O’Keeffe biopic. Irons also appeared in the documentary for Irish television channel TG4, Faoi Lan Cheoil in which he learned to play the fiddle.

Irons' film debut came with Nijinsky in 1980. He appeared sporadically in films during the 1980s, including the Cannes Palme d'Or winner The Mission in 1986, and in the dual role of twin physicians in David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers in 1988. Over the years, Irons has become known for playing somber, often mentally tortured characters. Other films include Danny the Champion of the World (1989), Reversal of Fortune (1990), for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, Kafka (1991), Damage (1993), The House of the Spirits (1993) appearing again with Glenn Close and Meryl Streep, Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995), Bernardo Bertolucci's Stealing Beauty (1996), the 1997 remake of Lolita and as the musketeer Aramis opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1998 film version of The Man in the Iron Mask (1998). One of his more memorable performances was when he gave his voice to Scar in The Lion King(1994).

Other roles include playing the evil wizard Profion in the film Dungeons and Dragons (2000). He played the Über-Morlock from the movie The Time Machine (2002). In 2004, Irons played Severus Snape in Comic Relief's Harry Potter parody, "Harry Potter and the Secret Chamberpot of Azerbaijan". Irons and Alan Rickman (who plays Snape in the Harry Potter film series), played the Gruber brothers, Simon and Hans, respectively, in the Die Hard film series.

In 2005, he appeared in the films Casanova opposite Heath Ledger, and Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven. He has co-starred with John Malkovich in two movies; The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) and Eragon (2006), though they did not have any scenes together in Eragon.

Irons read the audio book recording of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, and the audio book recording of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.

One of his best known film roles has turned out to be the voice of Scar in The Lion King (1994). Irons has since provided voiceovers for two Disney World attractions. He narrated the Spaceship Earth ride, housed in the large geodesic globe at Epcot up until September 2007, when Judi Dench took over. He also voiced H.G. Wells in the English version of the former Disney attraction The Timekeeper.

He was originally to star as the Phantom in a 2006 French musical adaptation of Gaston Leroux's novel The Phantom of the Opera, though the project was canceled. He will be the narrator for Val Kilmer and Bill Pullman's brand-new Lewis and Clark movie from Revolution Studios.

He serves as the English-language version of the audio guide for Westminster Abbey in London.

In 1985, Irons directed a music video for Carly Simon and her heavily promoted single, "Tired of Being Blonde". Although the song was not a hit, the video —featuring the fast cutting, parallel narratives and heavy use of stylized visual effects that were a staple of pop videos at the time— received ample attention on MTV and other outlets.

In 1994 Jeremy Irons had a cameo role in the video for Elastica's hit single 'Connection'. Irons was one of the many naked men sitting d own around Elastica as they performed the song. Irons has since claimed that this 3 minute slice of nudity was his most enjoyable work to date.

Irons has contributed to other musical performances, recording William Walton's Façade with Dame Peggy Ashcroft, and in 1997 the songs from Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, released on the Decca label.

He sang a selection of sophisticated Noël Coward songs at the 1999 Last Night of the Proms in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Coward's birth.

In 2003 he played Fredrik Egerman in a New York revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, and two years later appeared as King Arthur in Lerner and Loewe's Camelot at the Hollywood Bowl.

Jeremy Irons also has a full song named "Be Prepared" that takes part in the movie The Lion King. This song can be found in the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of the movie.

In 2009 Irons appeared on the Touchstone album Wintercoast, recording a full length narrative to open the album. Recording took place in New York City in February 2009 during rehearsals for his Broadway play Impressionism.

Irons has twice worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1976 and 1986–87. In 1984, Irons made his New York debut and won a Tony Award for his Broadway performance opposite Glenn Close in The Real Thing.

After an absence from the London stage for 18 years, in 2006 he co-starred with Patrick Malahide in Christopher Hampton's stage adaptation of Sándor Márai's novel Embers at the Duke of York's Theatre.

He made his National Theatre debut playing Harold Macmillan in Never So Good, a new play by Howard Brenton which opened at the Lyttelton on 19 March 2008.

Irons is currently appearing on Broadway opposite Joan Allen in the play Impressionism. The play is in a limited run through 10 May 2009 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater.

He is also the patron since 2002 of the Thomley Activity Centre, an Oxfordshire non-profit activity centre for disabled children. Irons owns Kilcoe Castle (which he had painted a rusty pink) in County Cork, Ireland, and has become involved in local politics there. He also has another Irish residence in The Liberties, Dublin. Irons is a patron of the Chiltern Shakespeare Company. He is a fan of English football club Portsmouth F.C..

At the 1991 Tony Awards, Irons was one of the few celebrities to wear the recently created red ribbon to support the fight against AIDS, and he was the first celebrity to wear it onscreen. He supports a number of other charities, including the Prison Phoenix Trust of which he is an active patron.

To the top

Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter as Krapp, in Krapp's Last Tape, by Samuel Beckett, at the Royal Court Theatre, in October 2006

After publishing poetry—at times using the pseudonymous surname Pinta, da Pinta, Pinto, or da Pinto— and acting in school plays as a teenager (13–14), Pinter began his theatrical career as a repertory actor using the stage name David Baron in 1954 (3, 47–48ff.). Beginning with his first play, The Room (1957), Pinter's writing career spanned over half a century and produced 29 original stage plays; 27 screenplays; many dramatic sketches, radio and TV plays; poetry; one novel; short fiction; and essays, speeches, and letters—many of whose manuscripts are owned and catalogued by the British Library. His best-known works include The Birthday Party (1957), The Caretaker (1959), The Homecoming (1964), and Betrayal (1978), each of which he adapted to film, and his screenplay adaptations of others' works, such as The Servant (1963), The Go-Between (1970), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), The Trial (1993), and Sleuth (2007). He directed almost 50 stage, television, and film productions, as well as acted extensively in radio, stage, television, and film productions of his own and others' works. Despite frail health since being diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in December 2001, Pinter continued to act on stage and screen, last performing the title role in a critically-acclaimed stage production of Samuel Beckett's one-act monologue Krapp's Last Tape for the 50th anniversary season of the Royal Court Theatre, in October 2006.

Pinter's dramas often involve strong conflicts among ambivalent characters who struggle for verbal and territorial dominance and for their own versions of the past; stylistically, these works are marked by theatrical pauses and silences, comedic timing, irony, and menace. Thematically ambiguous, they raise complex issues of individual identity oppressed by social forces, language, and vicissitudes of memory. Although Pinter publicly eschewed applying the term "political theatre" to his own work in 1981, he began writing overtly political plays in the mid-1980s, reflecting his own heightening political interests and changes in his personal life; this "new direction" in his work and his left-wing political activism stimulated additional critical debate about Pinter's politics. Pinter, his work, and his politics have been the subject of voluminous critical commentary.

In addition to the Nobel Prize in Literature and the French Légion d'honneur, Pinter received 20 honorary degrees and numerous other prizes and awards. Academic institutions and performing arts organizations have devoted symposia, festivals, and celebrations to him and his work, in recognition of his cultural influence and achievements across genres and media. In awarding Pinter's Nobel Prize, instigating some public controversy and criticism, the Swedish Academy cited him for being "generally regarded as the foremost representative of British drama in the second half of the 20th century" and noted: "That he occupies a position as a modern classic is illustrated by his name entering the language as an adjective used to describe a particular atmosphere and environment in drama: 'Pinteresque' "—a word he detested and found meaningless. Two weeks after withdrawing from the honorary degree ceremony at the Central School of Speech and Drama due to illness and receiving it in absentia, he died from cancer and was buried the following week at Kensal Green Cemetery, in North West London.

Pinter was born on 10 October 1930, in Hackney, East London, to "very respectable, Jewish, lower middle class," native English parents of Eastern-European ancestry; his father, Jack Pinter (1902–1997), was a "ladies' tailor" and his mother, Frances (née Moskowitz; 1904–1992), "kept what is called an immaculate house" and was "a wonderful cook." Correcting general knowledge about Pinter's family background, Michael Billington, Pinter's authorised biographer, documents that "three of Pinter's grandparents hail from Poland and one from Odessa, making them Ashkenazic rather than Sephardic Jews" (Harold Pinter 1–5). His evacuation from the family home at 19 Thistlewaite Road, "a solid, red-brick, three-storey villa just off the noisy, bustling, traffic-ridden thoroughfare of the Lower Clapton Road" (2), to Cornwall and Reading during 1940 and 1941, before and during the Blitz, and facing "the life-and-death intensity of daily experience" at that time influenced him profoundly, with Pinter's "prime memories of evacuation" being "of loneliness, bewilderment, separation and loss: themes that are in all his works" (5–10).

Although he was a "solitary" only child, he "discovered his true potential" as a student at Hackney Downs School, the London grammar school "where Pinter spent the formative years from 1944 to 1948. ... Partly through the school and partly through the social life of Hackney Boys' Club ... he formed an almost sacerdotal belief in the power of male friendship. The friends he made in those days—most particularly Henry Woolf, Michael (Mick) Goldstein and Morris (Moishe) Wernick—have always been a vital part of the emotional texture of his life" (Billington, Harold Pinter 11; cf. Woolf). Significantly "inspired" by his English teacher, mentor, and friend Joseph Brearley, "Pinter shone at English, wrote for the school magazine and discovered a gift for acting" (Billington, Harold Pinter 10–11). He played Romeo and Macbeth in 1947 and 1948, in productions directed by Brearley (Billington, Harold Pinter 13–14). During his Hackney Downs School years, at the age of 12, Pinter began writing poetry, and in the late 1940s and early 1950s, "Pinter continued to write poetry and short prose pieces; his poetry was first published in Poetry London in 1950 under the pseudonym Harold Pinta." He also especially enjoyed running and broke the Hackney Downs School sprinting record (Gussow, Conversations with Pinter 28–29).

Pinter was an avid cricket enthusiast most of his life, taking his cricket bat with him when he was evacuated as a pre-teenager during the Blitz (Billington, Harold Pinter 7–9; 410). In 1971 he told Gussow: "one of my main obsessions in life is the game of cricket—I play and watch and read about it all the time" (Conversations with Pinter 25). Being Chairman of the Gaieties Cricket Club and a "lifetime support of the Yorkshire Cricket Club" (8), Pinter devoted an entire section of his official website to the sport ("Gaieties Cricket Club"). One wall of his study was dominated by "A huge portrait of a younger, vigorous Mr. Pinter playing cricket, one of his great passions ... The painted Mr. Pinter, poised to swing his bat, has a wicked glint in his eye; testosterone all but flies off the canvas" (Lyall, "Still Pinteresque" 16 ). As Billington documents, "Robert Winder observes how even Pinter's passion for cricket was far removed from a jocular, country-house pursuit: 'Harold stands for a different tradition, a more urban and exacting idea of cricket as a bold theatre of aggression' " (Harold Pinter 410). His last interview, conducted by Andy Bull, of the Guardian, two months before Pinter's death and published a few days after it, was "on a subject very dear to the playwright's heart: cricket," revealing "his childhood love of cricket and why it is better than sex." After his death, in memorial accounts, several of his Hackney Downs School contemporaries recalled his achievements and prowess in sports, especially cricket and running (Supple, Baker, Watkins). After Pinter's death, as part of the BBC Radio 4 tribute, his friend and fellow Gaieties team mate actor and director Harry Burton presented an essay on Pinter and cricket.

Other main loves or interests that he mentioned to Gussow, Billington, and other interviewers (in varying order of priority) are family, love (of women) and sex, drinking, writing, and reading. According to Billington, "If the notion of male loyalty, competitive rivalry and fear of betrayal forms a constant thread in Pinter's work from The Dwarfs onwards, its origins can be found in his teenage Hackney years. Pinter adores women, enjoys flirting with them, worships their resilience and strength. But, in his early work especially, they are often seen as disruptive influences on some pure, Platonic ideal of male friendship: one of the most crucial of all Pinter's lost Edens" (Harold Pinter 10–12).

Beginning in late 1948, Pinter attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) for two terms, but "loathing" RADA, he missed most of his classes, feigned a nervous breakdown, and dropped out in 1949. That year he was also "called up for National Service," registered as a conscientious objector, was brought to trial twice, and ultimately fined by the magistrate for refusing to serve (Billington, Harold Pinter 20–25).

He had a "walk-on" role in Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Chesterfield Hippodrome in 1949 to 1950. From January to July 1951, he "endured six months at the Central School of Speech and Drama." From 1951 to 1952, he toured Ireland with the Anew McMaster repertory company, playing over a dozen roles. In 1952 he began regional repertory acting jobs in England; from 1953 to 1954, he worked for the Donald Wolfit Company, King's Theatre, Hammersmith, performing eight roles. From 1954 until 1959, Pinter acted under the stage name David Baron. As Batty observes: "Following his brief stint with Wolfit's company in 1953, this was to be Pinter's daily life for five years, and his prime manner of earning a living alongside stints as a waiter, a postman, a bouncer and snow-clearer whilst all the time harbouring ambitions as a poet and writer" (About Pinter 10).

In Pinter: The Player's Playwright, David Thompson "itemises all the performances Pinter gave in the Baron years," including those in English regional repertory companies, nearly twenty-five roles. In October 1989, Pinter told Mel Gussow: "I was in English rep as an actor for about 12 years. My favourite roles were undoubtedly the sinister ones. They're something to get your teeth into" (Conversations with Pinter 83). During that period, he also performed occasional roles in his own and others' works (for radio, TV, and film), as he did later as well.

From 1956 until 1980, Pinter was married to Vivien Merchant, a rep actress whom he met on tour, probably best known for her performance in the original film Alfie (1966); their son, Daniel, was born in 1958 (Billington, Harold Pinter 54, 75). Through the early 1970s, Merchant appeared in many of Pinter's works, most notably The Homecoming on stage (1965) and screen (1973), but the marriage was turbulent and began disintegrating in the mid-1960s (252–56). For seven years, from 1962 to 1969, Pinter was engaged in a clandestine affair with Joan Bakewell, which inspired his 1978 play Betrayal (264–66).

In January 1975, he became romantically involved with historian Lady Antonia Fraser, then the wife of Sir Hugh Fraser, confessing their affair to Vivien Merchant "in late March" and then, after "Life in Hanover Terrace gradually became impossible," moving out of their house on 28 April 1975, five days into Peter Hall's première of No Man's Land; several months after he had already moved in with Mrs. Fraser (Billington, Harold Pinter 253–54). After "threatening all summer to sue Pinter for divorce, publicly citing Antonia if he did not return to her," on 27 July 1975, Merchant finally filed for divorce, resulting in "press fascination" with their break up (253). At first, Daniel lived with him, for "According to Pinter, Vivien couldn't cope with bringing up Daniel alone" (253). From temporary borrowed and rented quarters, Pinter and Mrs. Fraser eventually "moved back into her Holland Park family home in August 1977" (254–55). After the Frasers' divorce had become final in 1977 and the Pinters' in 1980, in the third week of October 1980, Pinter married Antonia Fraser; however, due to a two-week delay in Merchant's signing the divorce papers, the reception had to precede the actual ceremony, originally scheduled "to coincide with Pinter's fiftieth birthday" on 10 October 1980 (271–72).

Unable to overcome her bitterness and grief at the loss of her husband, Vivien Merchant died of acute alcoholism in the first week of October 1982 at the age of 53 (Billington, Harold Pinter 276). According to Billington, who cites Merchant's close friends and Pinter's associates, Pinter "did everything possible to support" her until her death and regretted that he ultimately became estranged from their son, Daniel, after their separation, Pinter's remarriage, and Merchant's death (276, 345–47). A reclusive gifted musician and writer (345), Daniel stopped using the surname Pinter, having adopted instead "his maternal grandmother's maiden name," Brand, at the time that he was living with Pinter and Fraser in the summer of 1975; according to Billington, Pinter did not regard Daniel's change of name as "a symbolic rejection of himself" but rather as "a largely pragmatic move on Daniel's part designed to keep the press, who had been relentlessly hounding him also, at bay" (255).

While Billington observes that "The break-up with Vivien and the new life with Antonia was to have a profound effect on Pinter's personality and his work," he also acknowledges that she herself "is quick to qualify the idea that she had any direct input into his plays and points out that other people had a shaping influence on his politics," attributing later changes in his writing and his "engagement with the public world" to the "drastic change" from "an unhappy, complicated personal life ... to a happy, uncomplicated personal life," so that "a side of Harold which had always been there was somehow released. I think you can see that in his work after No Man's Land which was a very bleak play" (255).

Pinter stated publicly in interviews that he was "very happy" in his second marriage and enjoyed family life with his six adult stepchildren and 17 step-grandchildren, and, after battling cancer for a long period, considered himself "a very lucky man in every respect." According to Lyall, who interviewed him in London for her Sunday New York Times preview of Sleuth, Pinter's "latest work, a slim pamphlet called 'Six Poems for A.,' comprises poems written over 32 years, with 'A' being Lady Antonia. The first of the poems was written in Paris, where she and Pinter travelled soon after they met. More than three decades later the two were rarely apart, and Mr. Pinter turned soft, even cozy, when he talked about his wife" ("Still Pinteresque" 16). In the interview conducted by Lyall, Pinter "acknowledged that his plays––full of infidelity, cruelty, inhumanity, the lot––seem at odds with his domestic contentment. 'How can you write a happy play?' he said. 'Drama is about conflict and degrees of perturbation, disarray. I've never been able to write a happy play, but I've been able to enjoy a happy life' " ("Still Pinteresque" 16).

Pinter was the author of 29 plays, 15 dramatic sketches, 27 screenplays and film scripts for cinema and television, a novel, and other prose fiction, essays, and speeches, many poems, and co-author of two works for stage and radio. Along with the 1967 Tony Award for Best Play for The Homecoming and several other American awards and award nominations, he and his plays received many awards in the UK and elsewhere throughout the world. His screenplays for The French Lieutenant's Woman and Betrayal were nominated for Academy Awards in the category of "Writing: Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium" in 1981 and 1983, respectively.

Pinter's first play, The Room, written in 1957, was a student production at the University of Bristol, "commissioned" and directed by his good friend (later acclaimed) actor Henry Woolf, who also originated the role of Mr. Kidd (which he reprised in 2001 and 2007). After Pinter had mentioned that he had an "idea" for a play, Woolf asked him to write it so that he could direct it as part of fulfilling requirements for his postgraduate work. Pinter wrote it in three days. To mark and celebrate the 50th anniversary of that first production of The Room, Woolf reprised his role of Mr. Kidd, as well as his role of the Man in Pinter's play Monologue, in April 2007, as part of an international conference at the University of Leeds, Artist and Citizen: 50 Years of Performing Pinter.

One of the actors in Harold Pinters The Birthday Party at the Lyric, Hammersmith, announces in the programme that he read History at Oxford, and took his degree with Fourth Class Honours. Now I am well aware that Mr Pinters play received extremely bad notices last Tuesday morning. At the moment I write these it is uncertain even whether the play will still be in the bill by the time they appear, though it is probable it will soon be seen elsewhere. Deliberately, I am willing to risk whatever reputation I have as a judge of plays by saying that The Birthday Party is not a Fourth, not even a Second, but a First; and that Pinter, on the evidence of his work, possesses the most original, disturbing and arresting talent in theatrical London.... Mr Pinter and The Birthday Party, despite their experiences last week, will be heard of again. Make a note of their names.

Hobson was generally credited by Pinter himself and other critics as bolstering him and perhaps even rescuing his career (Billington, Harold Pinter 85); for example, in their September 1993 interview, Pinter told the New York Times critic Mel Gussow: "I felt pretty discouraged before Hobson. He had a tremendous influence on my life" (141).

In a review published in 1958, borrowing from the subtitle of The Lunatic View: A Comedy of Menace, a play by David Campton (1924–2006), critic Irving Wardle called Pinter's early plays "comedy of menace"—a label that people have applied repeatedly to his work, at times "pigeonholing" and attempting to "tame" it. Such plays begin with an apparently innocent situation that becomes both threatening and "absurd" as Pinter's characters behave in ways often perceived as inexplicable by his audiences and one another. Pinter acknowledges the influence of Samuel Beckett, particularly on his early work; they became friends, sending each other drafts of their works in progress for comments.

In 1964, four years after the success of The Caretaker in 1960, which established Pinter's theatrical reputation (Jones), The Birthday Party was revived both on television (with Pinter himself in the role of Goldberg) and on stage (directed by Pinter at the Aldwych) and well received (Merritt, Pinter in Play 18, 219–20). By the time Peter Hall's London production of The Homecoming (1964) reached Broadway (1967), Harold Pinter had become a celebrity playwright, and the play garnered four Tony awards, among other awards ("Harold Pinter" at the Internet Broadway Database).

From the late sixties through the early eighties, Pinter wrote Landscape (1968), Silence (1969), "Night" (1969), Old Times (1971), No Man's Land (1975), The Proust Screenplay (1977), Betrayal (1978), Family Voices (1981), and A Kind of Alaska (1982), all of which dramatise complex ambiguities, elegiac mysteries, comic vagaries, and other "quicksand"-like characteristics of memory and which critics sometimes categorise as Pinter's "memory plays".

Pinter's plays Party Time (1991), Moonlight (1993), Ashes to Ashes (1996), and Celebration (2000) draw upon some features of his "memory" dramaturgy in their focus on the past in the present, but they have personal and political resonances and other tonal differences from these more-clearly-identifiable "memory plays".

During the 1980s, after the three-year period of "creative blankness in the early 1980s" following his marriage to Lady Antonia Fraser and the death of Vivien Merchant, as mentioned by Billington (Harold Pinter 258), Pinter's plays tended to become shorter and more overtly political, serving as critiques of oppression, torture, and other abuses of human rights, linked by the apparent "invulnerability of power" (Grimes 119). After writing the brief dramatic sketch Precisely (1983), a duologue between two bureaucrats exposing the absurd power politics of mutual nuclear annihilation and deterrence, he wrote his first full-length overtly-political one-act play, One for the Road (1984). In a 1985 interview called "A Play and Its Politics", conducted by Nicholas Hern, published in the Grove Press edition of One for the Road, Pinter states that whereas his earlier plays presented "metaphors" for power and powerlessness (8–9), the later ones present literal "realities" of power and its abuse (16–17, 21). Grimes proposes, "If it is too much to say that Pinter faults himself for his earlier political inactivity, his political theater dramatizes the interplay and conflict of the opposing poles of involvement and disengagement" (19).

In the 1990s, he also wrote the political satire Party Time, first as a play for the stage (Faber, 1991), and then revised and adapted it as a television screenplay (Faber, 1994). From 1992 to 1999, reflecting both personal and political concerns, Pinter wrote Moonlight (1993) and Ashes to Ashes (1996), full-length plays with domestic settings relating to death and dying and (in the latter case) to such atrocities as the Holocaust. In this period, after the deaths of first his mother and then his father, again merging the personal and the political, Pinter wrote the poems "Death" (1997) (which he read in his 2005 Nobel Lecture) and "The Disappeared" (1998).

Pinter's last stage play, Celebration (2000), is a social satire, with fewer political resonances than such plays as One for the Road (1984), Mountain Language (1988), Party Time (1991), and Ashes to Ashes (1996); the last three extend expressionistic aspects of Pinter's "memory plays" (Billington, Harold Pinter; Grimes). Late in 2000, Pinter's collaboration with director Di Trevis resulted in their stage adaptation of his as-yet unfilmed 1972 work The Proust Screenplay, entitled Remembrance of Things Past (both based on Marcel Proust's famous seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time), which opened at the Cottesloe Theatre (NT) on 27 November 2000, running at the NT through February 2001. There was also a revival of The Caretaker directed by Patrick Marber and starring Michael Gambon (as Davies), Rupert Graves (as Mick), and Douglas Hodge (as Aston), playing simultaneously at the Comedy Theatre, in London's West End, from November 2000 to February 2001.

Pinter's acting career spanned over fifty years and, despite his critical reputation for generally playing the "heavy", included many widely-ranging roles in all four dramatic media: radio, stage, film, and television. In addition to roles in radio and television adaptations of his own plays and dramatic sketches, early in his screenwriting career, he made several cameo appearances in films based on his own screenplays; for example, as a society man in The Servant (1963) and as Mr. Bell in Accident (1967), both directed by Joseph Losey; and as a bookshop customer in his later film Turtle Diary (dir. John Irvin, 1985), starring Michael Gambon, Glenda Jackson, and Ben Kingsley. His notable acting film and television roles in his later years included a drunk Irish journalist in Langrishe, Go Down (dir. David Hugh Jones), starring Judi Dench and Jeremy Irons (distributed on DVD by Image Entertainment after being shown originally on BBC Two in 1978); it was re-released in movie theatres on 16 mm film in 2002, after being screened in The Spaces Between the Words: A Tribute to Harold Pinter, by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, held from 21 to 31 July 2001, as part of the Harold Pinter Festival, at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in New York City, which began on 16 July. On the big screen Pinter also played a criminal named Sam Ross in Mojo (written and dir. by Jez Butterworth, 1997), based on Butterworth's own 1995 stage play Mojo, set in London of the 1950s; Sir Thomas Bertram (his most substantial feature-film role) in Mansfield Park (1998, dir. Patricia Rozema), distributed in 1999 by Miramax and also as part of The Patricia Rozema DVD Collection, by Alliance Atlantis—a character whom Pinter described in publicity posted on his website as "a very civilised man ... a man of great sensibility but in fact, he's upholding and sustaining a totally brutal system from which he derives his money..."; and Uncle Benny, opposite Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush, in The Tailor of Panama (dir. John Boorman, 2001). In other television films, he played a corrupt lawyer named Saul Abrahams, opposite Peter O'Toole, in BBC TV's Rogue Male (dir. Clive Donner, 1976)—a remake of the 1941 film noir Man Hunt, by Fritz Lang—released on DVD by Diamond Entertainment in 2002; the Director opposite John Gielgud (Gielgud's last role) and Rebecca Pidgeon in Catastrophe, by Samuel Beckett (dir. David Mamet), part of Beckett On Film (2001); and Mr. Bearing, the father of ovarian cancer patient Vivian Bearing (played by Emma Thompson), in the HBO film of Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit (dir. Mike Nichols, 2001).

Pinter began to direct more frequently during the 1970s, becoming an associate director of the National Theatre (NT) in 1973 and directing almost 50 productions of his own and others' plays for stage, film, and television. Pinter helmed 10 productions of works by Simon Gray, including the stage and/or film premières of Butley (stage, 1971; film, 1974), Otherwise Engaged (1975), The Rear Column (stage, 1978; TV, 1980), Close of Play (NT, 1979), Quartermaine's Terms (1981), Life Support (1997), The Late Middle Classes (1999), and The Old Masters (2004). Several of those productions starred Alan Bates (1934–2003), who originated the stage and screen roles of not only Butley but also Mick in Pinter's first major commercial success, The Caretaker (stage, 1960; film, 1964), and Nicolas in One for the Road and the cab driver in Victoria Station, in Pinter's own double-bill produced at the Lyric Hammersmith in 1984. Among over 35 stage plays, he also directed Next of Kin (1974), by John Hopkins; Blithe Spirit (1976), by Noël Coward; Circe and Bravo (1986), by Donald Freed; Taking Sides (1995), by Ronald Harwood, and Twelve Angry Men (1996), by Reginald Rose.

In the last two weeks of July 2001, a Harold Pinter Festival celebrating his work curated by Michael Colgan, artistic director of the Gate Theatre, Dublin, was held at the Lincoln Center in New York City, in which he participated both as an actor, as Nicolas in One for the Road, and as a director of a double bill pairing his last play, Celebration, with his first play, The Room.

In October 2001, as part of a two-week "Harold Pinter Homage" at the World Leaders Festival of Creative Genius, at Harbourfront Centre, in Toronto, following the reception and during the dinner honouring him, he presented a dramatic reading of Celebration (2000) and also participated in a public interview as part of the International Festival of Authors.

Late in 2001, Pinter was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, for which, in 2002, he underwent what he described afterwards in published and broadcast interviews as a "successful" operation and chemotherapy, thanking both his "brilliant surgeon" and his "brilliant wife" for their efforts on his behalf during that period. During the course of his treatment, he directed a production of his play No Man's Land, wrote and performed in his new sketch "Press Conference" for a two-part otherwise-retrospective production of his dramatic sketches at the National Theatre (415–16). Since 2002, having become increasingly "engaged" as "a citizen" (Merritt, Pinter in Play 179), Pinter continued to write and present politically-charged poetry, essays, speeches and two new screenplay adaptations of others' plays, "The Tragedy of King Lear", based on Shakespeare's King Lear (completed in 2000 but unfilmed); and "Sleuth", based on Anthony Shaffer's 1970 play Sleuth (written in 2005, with revisions completed later for the 2007 film Sleuth).

In 2003, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, in Manitoba, Canada, held a nearly month-long PinterFest, in which "over a 130 performances" of a dozen of Pinter's plays were produced by a dozen different theatre companies.

In later interviews and correspondence, he vowed to " 'keep fighting' " politically, remaining committed to writing and publishing poetry (e.g., his poems "The Special Relationship", "Laughter", and "The Watcher") and to continuing political pressure against the "status quo," battling politically what he considered social injustices. Personally, he was also battling post-oesophageal cancer bouts of ill health, including "a rare skin disease called pemphigus"—that "very, very mysterious skin condition which emanated from the Brazilian jungle", as he described it —and "a form of septicaemia which afflict his feet and movement slow and laborious" (Billington, Harold Pinter 394). Yet, despite these afflictions, Pinter completed his screenplay for Sleuth in 2005 (418–20).

His last dramatic work, Voices (2005), a collaboration with composer James Clarke, adapting such selected works by Pinter to music, premièred on BBC Radio 3 on his 75th birthday (10 October 2005), three days before the October 13th announcement that he had won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature (Billington, Harold Pinter 420).

In an interview of Pinter on 12 March 2006, conducted as part of the Europe Theatre Prize award ceremony, in Turin, Italy, which was part of the cultural program of the XX Winter Olympic Games, Billington asked Pinter, "Is the itch to put pen to paper still there?" He replied, "Yes. It's just a question of what the form is ... I've been writing poetry since my youth and I'm sure I'll keep on writing it till I conk out. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I've written 29 damn plays. Isn't that enough?" In response, audience members shouted "in unison" a resounding No, urging him to keep writing (Merritt, "Europe Theatre Prize Celebration"). The program of events included the symposium on Pinter: Passion, Poetry, Politics, curated by Billington; new productions (in French) of The New World Order (1991), Press Conference (2002), Precisely (1984), Mountain Language (1988), One for the Road (1984) and Party Time (1991), "Six short political works by Harold Pinter, in the unpublished French versions by Jean Pavans"; and Pinter Plays, Poetry & Prose, an evening of dramatic readings by actors Charles Dance, Michael Gambon, Jeremy Irons, and Penelope Wilton, directed by Alan Stanford, of the Gate Theatre, Dublin.

In June 2006, the British Academy of Film and Television hosted "a celebration of work in cinema" curated by his friend and fellow playwright David Hare, described as "a brilliant selection of film clips" which Hare introduced by saying: "To jump back into the world of Pinter's movies ... is to remind yourself of a literate mainstream cinema, focused as much as Bergman's is on the human face, in which tension is maintained by a carefully crafted mix of image and dialogue" (Billington, Harold Pinter 429).

Pinter occasionally left open the possibility that if a compelling dramatic "image" were to come to mind (though "not likely"), he would perhaps have pursued it. After making this point, with Rupert Graves in another location on screen, Pinter performed a dramatic reading of his "new work," "Apart From That", at the end of the interview conducted by Wark, broadcast live on Newsnight on 23 June 2006. This "very funny" dramatic sketch was inspired by Pinter's strong aversion to mobile telephones; "as two people trade banalities over their mobile phones there is a hint of something ominous and unspoken behind the clichéd chat" (Billington, Harold Pinter 429).

After returning to London from Edinburgh, in September 2006, he began rehearsing for his performance of the role of Krapp, which, the next month, he performed from a motorized wheelchair in a limited run at the Royal Court Theatre to sold-out audiences and "ecstatic" critical reviews.

The production of only nine performances, from 12 October, two days after Pinter's 76th birthday, to 24 October 2006, was the most sought-after ticket in London during the 50th-anniversary celebration season of the Royal Court Theatre; his performances sold out within minutes on the first morning of general ticket sales (4 September 2006). One performance was filmed, produced on DVD, and shown on BBC Four on 21 June 2007.

On 18 March 2007, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a new radio production of The Homecoming, directed by Thea Sharrock and produced by Martin J. Smith, with Pinter performing the role of Max (for the first time; he had previously played Lenny on stage in 1964), Michael Gambon as Max's brother Sam, Rupert Graves as Teddy, Samuel West as Lenny, James Alexandrou as Joey, and Gina McKee as Ruth (M. J. Smith; West).

A revival of The Hothouse, directed by Ian Rickson, with a cast including Stephen Moore (Roote), Lia Williams (Miss Cutts), and Henry Woolf (Tubb), among others, opened at the Royal National Theatre, in London, on 11 July 2007, playing through 27 July, concurrently with a revival of Betrayal at the Donmar Warehouse, starring Toby Stephens (Jerry), Dervla Kirwan (Emma), and Samuel West (Robert), as directed by Roger Michell (West).

Pinter's screenplay adaptation of the 1970 Tony Award-winning play Sleuth, by Anthony Shaffer, is the basis for the 2007 film Sleuth, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Michael Caine (in the role of Andrew Wyke, played by Laurence Olivier in the 1972 film Sleuth) and Jude Law (in the role of Milo Tindle, played by Caine in the 1972 film). Law also produced it. Scheduled for release on 12 October, the film debuted at the 64th Venice Internationl Film Festival on 31 August 2007 and was screened at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September.

A Broadway revival of The Homecoming, starring James Frain as Teddy, Ian McShane as Max, Raúl Esparza as Lenny, Michael McKean as Sam, and Eve Best as Ruth, and directed by Daniel J. Sullivan, opened on 16 December 2007, for a "20-week limited engagement ... through 13 April 2008" at the Cort Theatre (Gans; Horwitz).

The Lyric Hammersmith celebrated the play's 50th anniversary with a revival, directed by artistic director David Farr, and related events from 8 to 24 May 2008, including a gala performance and reception hosted by Harold Pinter on 19 May 2008, exactly fifty years after its London première there.

A revival of No Man's Land (1975), directed by Rupert Goold, opened at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, whose artistic director is Michael Colgan, in August 2008, and then transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre, London, where it played through Saturday, 3 January 2009 (BWW News Desk).

On the Monday before Christmas 2008, during its break, Pinter "was admitted to Hammersmith Hospital," where he died "two days later on Christmas Eve" from cancer, after having "suffered for more than five years from cancer of the oesophagus" ("Pinter Ends").

The night before Pinter's New Year's Eve burial, theatre marquees on Broadway dimmed their lights for a minute in tribute ("Friends"), and the final night of No Man's Land at the Duke of York's Theatre, on 3 January 2009, starting at 6:30 p.m., all of the Ambassador Theatre Group in the West End also dimmed their lights for an hour to honour the playwright (Smith, "Pinter to Be Honoured").

A "more public commemoration" (to be announced) is being planned; friends and family have proposed that Pinter "be accorded the honour of a memorial in Westminster Abbey's 'Poets’ Corner'," where one of Pinter's most revered poets, Wilfred Owen, is commemorated among many others, though, reportedly, their proposal may be meeting some resistance due to Pinter's " 'anti-religious views' " (Eden).

On Saturday, 2 May 2009, from 10 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., a free public Harold Pinter Memorial Celebration, curated by Harry Burton, is being held in the Harold M. Proshansky Auditorium, at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, of The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY), as part of the Fifth Annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, being held in New York City, from 27 April to 3 May 2009.

At a memorial cricket charity match on 27 September 2009, at Lord's, the Gaieties plays the Lord's Taverners, followed by "a concert of words and music in the Long Room in the Lords paviliion to celebrate Harold Pinter's love of cricket," including such invited performers as Janie Dee, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy, Roger Lloyd Pack, and Sam West; at the concert the winner of a public auction of the 2005 portrait of Pinter by Joe Hill–"a gift to Pinter from his team mates at Gaieties Cricket Club as a mark of their esteem and gratitude for Pinter's 40 years service to the club"–will be announced, with the "proceeds" going to benefit youth causes supported by the Taverners.

Prior to Pinter's death, Colgan, who helmed "four major festivals of work" starting in 1994, including the 2001 Harold Pinter Festival, which he curated at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in New York City, announced that he "is preparing for another major retrospective of his work in Dublin to take place in 2010," marking Pinter's 80th birthday (BWW News Desk).

Opposed to the politics of the Cold War, in 1946 to 1947, when he was eighteen, Pinter was a conscientious objector, refusing compulsory conscription; however, he was not a pacifist, as he told Billington and others that, if he had been old enough at the time, he would have fought against the Nazis in World War II (Harold Pinter 21–24, 92, & 286). Although Pinter seemed to express ambivalence about "politicians" in his 1966 Paris Review interview conducted by Lawrence M. Bensky, he had actually been an early member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the United Kingdom and also had supported the British Anti-Apartheid Movement (1959–1994), participating in British artists' refusal to permit professional productions of their work in South Africa in 1963 ("Playwrights in Apartheid Protest") and in subsequent related campaigns (Mbeki; Reddy).

In his last twenty-five years, Pinter increasingly focused his essays, speeches, interviews, literary readings, and other public appearances directly on contemporary political issues. He strongly opposed the 1991 Gulf War, the 1999 NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War, the United States' 2001 War in Afghanistan, and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. His political statements have evoked some strong public criticism and even, at times, ridicule and personal attacks.

In accepting an honorary degree at the University of Turin (27 November 2002), he stated: "I believe that will not only to take control of Iraqi oil, but also because the American administration is now a bloodthirsty wild animal. Bombs are its only vocabulary." Distinguishing between "the American administration" and American citizens, he added the following qualification: "Many Americans, we know, are horrified by the posture of their government but seem to be helpless" (Various Voices 243). He was very active in the anti-war movement in the United Kingdom, speaking at rallies held by the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).

On his official website, Pinter published his remarks to the mass peace protest demonstration held in London on 15 February 2003: "The United States is a monster out of control. Unless we challenge it with absolute determination American barbarism will destroy the world. The country is run by a bunch of criminal lunatics, with Blair as their hired Christian thug. The planned attack on Iraq is an act of premeditated mass murder" ("Speech at Hyde Park"). Those remarks anticipated his observation in his 2005 Nobel Lecture, "Art, Truth and Politics": "Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, shamed and angered by their government's actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force–yet. But the anxiety, uncertainty and fear which we can see growing daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish" (21).

In accepting the Wilfred Owen Award for Poetry, on 18 March 2005, wondering "What would Wilfred Owen make of the invasion of Iraq? A bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the conception of international law?", Pinter concluded: "I believe Wilfred Owen would share our contempt, our revulsion, our nausea and our shame at both the language and the actions of the American and British governments" (Various Voices 247–48).

Pinter was active in International PEN, serving as a vice president, along with American playwright Arthur Miller. In 1985, Pinter and Miller travelled to Turkey, on a mission co-sponsored by International PEN and a Helsinki Watch committee to investigate and protest the torture of imprisoned writers. There he met victims of political oppression and their families. At an American embassy dinner in Ankara, held in Miller's honour, at which Pinter was also an invited guest, speaking on behalf of those imprisoned Turkish writers, Pinter confronted the ambassador with (in Pinter's words) "the reality ... of electric current on your genitals": Pinter's outspokenness apparently angered their host and led to indications for his desired departure, and Miller left the embassy with him. Recounting this episode for a tribute to Miller on his 80th birthday, Pinter concluded: "Being thrown out of the US embassy in Ankara with Arthur Miller—a voluntary exile—was one of the proudest moments in my life" ("Arthur Miller's Socks," Various Voices 56–57). Pinter's experiences in Turkey and his knowledge of the Turkish suppression of the Kurdish language "inspired" his 1988 play Mountain Language.

He was an active delegate of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in the United Kingdom, an organization that defends Cuba, supports the government of Fidel Castro, and campaigns against the U.S. embargo on the country (Hands Off Cuba!). In 2001 Pinter joined the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milošević (ICDSM), which appealed for a fair trial for and the freedom of Slobodan Milošević; he signed a related "Artists' Appeal for Milošević" in 2004.

Pinter contributed letters to the editor, essays, speeches, and poetry strongly expressing his artistic and political viewpoints, which were frequently published initially in British periodicals, both in print and electronic media, and distributed and re-distributed extensively over the internet and throughout the blogosphere. These were distributed more widely after his winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2005; his subsequent publications and related news accounts cite his status as a Nobel Laureate.

Later he continued to sign petitions on behalf of artistic and political causes that he supported. He signed the mission statement of Jews for Justice for Palestinians in 2005 and its full-page advertisement, "What Is Israel Doing? A Call by Jews in Britain", published in The Times on 6 July 2006. He also co-signed an open letter about events in the Middle East dated 19 July 2006, distributed to the press on 21 July 2006, and posted on the website of Noam Chomsky.

On 5 February 2007 The Independent reported that, along with historian Eric Hobsbawm, human rights lawyer Geoffrey Bindman, fashion designer Nicole Farhi, film director Mike Leigh, and actors Stephen Fry and Zoë Wanamaker, among others, Harold Pinter launched the organization Independent Jewish Voices in the United Kingdom "to represent British Jews ... in response to a perceived pro-Israeli bias in existing Jewish bodies in the UK", and, according to Hobsbawm, "as a counter-balance to the uncritical support for Israeli policies by established bodies such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews" (Hodgson; IJV Declaration).

In March 2007 Charlie Rose had "A Conversation with Harold Pinter" on Charlie Rose, filmed at the Old Vic, in London, and broadcast on television in the United States on PBS. They discussed highlights of his career and the politics of his life and work. They debated his ongoing opposition to the Iraq War, with Rose challenging some of Pinter's views about the United States. They also discussed some of his other public protests and positions in public controversies, such as that involving the New York Theatre Workshop's cancellation of their production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, which Pinter viewed as an act of cowardice amounting to self-censorship.

An Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and an Honorary Fellow of the Modern Language Association of America (1970), Pinter was appointed CBE in 1966 and became a Companion of Honour in 2002 (having previously declined a knighthood in 1996). In 1995 and 1996 he accepted the David Cohen Prize, in recognition of a lifetime's literary achievement, and the Laurence Olivier Special Award for a lifetime's achievement in the theatre, respectively. In 1997 he became a BAFTA Fellow. He received the World Leaders Award for "Creative Genius" as the subject of a week-long "Homage" in Toronto, in October 2001. A few years later, in 2004, he received the Wilfred Owen Award for Poetry—"in recognition of Pinter's lifelong contribution to literature, 'and specifically for his collection of poetry entitled War, published in 2003' " (Wilfred Owen Association Newsletter). In March 2006 he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize, in recognition of lifetime achievements pertaining to drama and theatre ("Letter of Motivation"). In conjunction with that award, from 10 March to 14 March 2006, Michael Billington coordinated an international conference on Pinter: Passion, Poetry, and Politics, including scholars and critics from Europe and the Americas (Harold Pinter 427–28).

On 13 October 2005 the Swedish Academy announced that it had decided to award the Nobel Prize in Literature for that year to "Harold Pinter ... Who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms" (press release), instigating some public controversy and criticism relating both to characteristics of Pinter's work and to his politics.

When interviewed that day about his own reaction to the Nobel Prize announcement by Billington, Pinter joked: "I was told today that one of the Sky channels said this morning that 'Harold Pinter is dead'. Then they changed their mind and said, 'No, he's won the Nobel prize.' So I've risen from the dead" (Billington, "They said").

Nobel Week, including the Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony in Stockholm and related events throughout Scandinavia, began in the first few days of December 2005. Due to medical concerns about his health, Pinter and his family could not attend the Awards Ceremony and those events. After the Academy notified him of his award, although he had arranged for his publisher (Stephen Page of Faber) to accept his Nobel Diploma and Nobel Medal at the Awards Ceremony scheduled for 10 December, he had still planned to travel to Stockholm, to present his lecture in person a few days earlier (Honigsbaum). In November, however, discovering the infection that would nearly kill him, his doctor hospitalised him and barred such travel (Billington, Harold Pinter 423–24).

Though still hospitalised, Pinter went to a Channel 4 studio to videotape his Nobel Lecture: "Art, Truth and Politics", which was projected on three large screens at the Swedish Academy, in Stockholm, on the evening of 7 December 2005.

Simultaneously transmitted on Channel 4 in the UK that evening, but "totally ignored by the BBC" (Billington, Harold Pinter 424), the 46-minute television broadcast was introduced by friend and fellow playwright David Hare. Subsequently, the full text and streaming video formats were posted for the public on the Nobel Prize and Swedish Academy official websites. In these formats Pinter's Nobel Lecture has been widely watched, cited, quoted, and distributed by print and online media and the source of much commentary and debate (425–27).

As a result of his Nobel Prize and his controversial Nobel Lecture, interest in Pinter's life and work surged. They led to new revivals of his plays, to Billington's updating his biography (retitled Harold Pinter), and to new editions of Pinter's works, such as The Essential Pinter and The Dwarfs, by Grove Press, and a three-volume box set including The Birthday Party, No Man's Land, and Mountain Language and Celebration entitled Four Plays, by Faber. Illuminations released its DVD and VHS video recordings of Pinter's Nobel Lecture (without Hare's introduction).

Some scholars and critics challenge the validity of Pinter's critiques of what he terms "the modes of thinking of those in power" (Merritt, Pinter in Play 171–89; 180) or dissent from his retrospective viewpoints on his own work (Begley; Karwowski; and Quigley).

Scholars agree that Pinter's dramatic rendering of power relations results from such astute "critical and moral scrutiny".

Pinter's aversion to any censorship by "the authorities" is epitomised in Petey's line at the end of The Birthday Party. As the broken-down and reconstituted Stanley is being carted off by the figures of authority Goldberg and McCann, Petey calls out after him, "Stan, don't let them tell you what to do!" "I've lived that line all my damn life. Never more than now," Pinter told Gussow in 1988. Pinter's ongoing opposition to what he terms "the modes of thinking of those in power"—the "brick wall" of the "minds" perpetuating the "status quo" (Merritt, Pinter in Play 180)—infuses the "vast political pessimism" that some academic critics may perceive in his artistic work (Grimes 220), its "drowning landscape" of harsh contemporary realities, with some residual "hope for restoring the dignity of man" (Pinter, Art, Truth and Politics 9, 24).

His dramatic conflicts present serious implications for his characters and his audiences, leading to sustained inquiry about "the point" of his work and multiple "critical strategies" for developing interpretations and stylistic analyses of it (Merritt, Pinter in Play).

On 9 October 2008, the Central School of Speech and Drama announced that Pinter had agreed to become its president and to receive an honorary fellowship in the School's graduation ceremony on 10 December 2008 ("Central Announces"). On his appointment Pinter commented: "I was a student at Central in 1950–51. I enjoyed my time there very much and I am delighted to become president of a remarkable institution" (Smith, "Pinter Replaces"). But Pinter had to receive that honorary degree, his 20th, in absentia, due to ill health ("Degree Honour"; "2008 Central School"). His presidency of the School was brief, as he died just two weeks after the graduation ceremony, on 24 December 2008.

Unpublished manuscripts relating to Pinter and his works, and letters to and from him are held in the Modern Literary Manuscripts division of the British Library (BL), where the catalogued expanded Harold Pinter Archive acquired in December 2007 reopened on 2 February 2009 (O'Brien). Smaller collections of Pinter manuscripts are in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin; The Lilly Library, at Indiana University at Bloomington; the Mandeville Special Collections Library, Geisel Library, at the University of California, San Diego; the British Film Institute, in London, England; the Margaret Herrick Library, Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in Beverly Hills, California; and in other public and private libraries.

Abbott, Diane. "Diane Abbott Calls for Pinter Cinema". Diane Abbott Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington (site funded from the Parliamentary Members Communications Allowance), 16 Jan. 2009. Web. 28 Jan. 2009. Press release.

Adams, Stephen. "Harold Pinter Directs His Own Funeral". Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 31 Dec. 2008. Web. 6 Jan. 2009.

Alderman, Geoffrey. "Editorial: Harold Pinter - A Jewish View". Current Viewpoint. Current, 27 Mar. 2009. Web 25 Apr. 2009.

Andrews, Jamie. " 'Tender the dead, as you yourself would be tendered...' ". Harold Pinter Archive Blog: British Library Curators on Cataloguing the Pinter Archive. British Library, 6 Jan. 2009. Web. 6 Jan. 2009.

Baker, Terry. "Harold Pinter and the Sports Field." The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 10. Print.

Billington, Michael. "Goodnight, Sweet Prince: Shakespearean Farewell to Pinter". Guardian. Guardian Media Group, 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 1 Jan. 2009.

British Library. "Harold Pinter (1930–2008)". Harold Pinter Archive Blog: British Library Curators on Cataloguing the Pinter Archive. British Library, 29 Dec. 2008. Web. 2 Jan. 2009.

Brooks, Melvyn. "A Memory of Harold Pinter." The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 14. Print.

Cohen, Nick. "Pinter Was Powerful and Passionate, But Often Misguided". Observer, "Comment is Free". Guardian Media Group, 28 Dec. 2008. Web. 23 Mar. 2009.

Daily Mail Reporter. "Breaking News: Nobel Prize-winning Playwright Harold Pinter Dies Aged 78". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd, 25 Dec. 2008. Web. 25 Dec. 2008.

Dodds, Paisley (Associated Press). "Nobel-winning Playwright Harold Pinter Dies at 78". ABC News. American Broadcasting Company, 25 Dec. 2008. Web. 14 Mar. 2009.

Dorfman, Ariel. "The World That Harold Pinter Unlocked". Washington Post. Washington Post, 27 Dec. 2008, A15. Print. The Washington Post Company, 27 Dec. 2008. Web. 9 Jan. 2009.

Driscoll, Margarette. "Yo, Grandpa Pinter, Big Respect". Times Online. News International (News Corporation), 11 Jan. 2009. Web. 11 Jan. 2009.

Eden, Richard. "Harold Pinter Faces Opposition to Memorial in Poet's Corner". Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 3 Jan. 2009. Web. 3 Jan. 2009.

Edgar, David. "Pinter's Weasels". Guardian, "Comment is Free". Guardian Media Group, 29 Dec. 2008. Web. 23 Mar. 2009.

Fenton, Anna, and Lucy Jackson. "Harold Pinter: A Look Back". Journal. The Edinburgh Journal Limited, 11 Jan. 2009. Web. 12 Jan. 2009.

Greenhill, Sam. "Theatreland in Mourning As Nobel Prize-winning Playwright Harold Pinter Dies Aged 78". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers Ltd, 25 Dec. 2008. Web. 25 Dec. 2008.

Gussow, Mel, and Ben Brantley."Harold Pinter, Playwright of the Pause, Dies at 78". New York Times. New York Times Company, 25 Dec. 2008, Theater. Web. 26 Dec. 2008.

Jacobson, Howard. "Opinion: Howard Jacobson: Harold Pinter Didn't Get My Joke, and I Didn't Get Him – Until It Was Too Late". Independent. Independent News and Media, 10 Jan. 2009. Web. 27 Apr. 2009.

Kamm, Oliver. "Harold Pinter: An Impassioned Artist Who Lost Direction on the Political Stage". Times. News International (News Corporation), 26 Dec. 2008. Web. 23 Mar. 2009.

Lafferty, Julia. "Pinter – A Man of Principle". Hackney Gazette, Letters. Archant, 7 Jan. 2009. Web. 28 Jan. 2009.

Marowitz, Charles. "Harold Pinter: 1930 – 2008". Swans, Commentary. Swans, 29 Dec. 2008 – 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 13 Jan. 2009.

McCallum, John. "Companies Recall Good Ghost of Pinter". Australian. News Limited, 2 Feb. 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2009.

Miller, Lionel. "The Lost Librarian." The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 5. Print.

Morgan, Clare. "Festival Joins Forces for Free Pinter Tribute". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Digital, 28 Jan.2009. Web, 28 Jan. 2009.

Sands, Sarah. "Opinion: Sarah Sands: Pinter's Funeral – More Final Reckoning Than Reconciliation". Independent. Independent News and Media, 4 Jan. 2009. Web. 27 Apr. 2009.

Sherwin, Adam. "Portrait of Harold Pinter Playing Cricket To Be Sold at Auction". Times. News International, 24 Mar. 2009. Web. 24 Mar. 2009.

Smith, Alastair. "Pinter to be Honoured Before Final Performance of No Man's Land". Stage, News. Stage Newspaper Group Ltd, 2 Jan. 2009. Web. 14 Mar. 2009.

Soros, Simon. "Grandpa". Sunday Times. News International (News Corporation), 11 Jan. 2009. Web. 11 Jan. 2009. (© Simon Soros 2008).

Stothard, Peter. "Harold Pinter: Exit a Master". Times Literary Supplement (TLS. News International (News Corporation), 7 Jan. 2009. Web. 8 Jan. 2009.

Supple, Barry. "Harold Pinter – Some Memories." The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 6–7. Print.

Taylor, Jean (Hersh). "Of Harold Pinter and Joseph Brearley." The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 18. Print.

Taylor-Batty, Mark, comp. "In Memoriam: Harold Pinter". Harold Pinter Society Webpages. The Harold Pinter Society, 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 1 Jan. 2009.

Thomas, Edward. "Theatre Talk with Edward Thomas: The End of the Pauses." The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 9. Print.

Ulaby, Neda. "Remembrances: Remembering Influential Playwright Harold Pinter". Day to Day. National Public Radio, 25 Dec. 2008. Web. 25 Dec. 2008.

Wainwright, Hilary. "In Words and Silences". Red Pepper. Red Pepper magazine, Dec. 2008. Web. 3 Jan. 2009.

Walker, Peter, David Smith, and Haroon Siddique. "Harold Pinter: Tributes Pour In After Death of Dramatist Aged 78". Guardian Media Group, 26 Dec. 2008. Web. 10 Jan. 2009.

Watkins, G. L. "Harold Pinter, CH, CBE. 10th October 1930 – 24th December 2008 (Hackney Downs School, 1942–1948, Hammond House, Prefect)," "Memorable Phrasings," and "Elsewhere in the World." The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 4; 8; 11. Print.

Westwood, Matthew. "Blanchett Stars in Free Play". Australian. News Limited, 27 Jan. 2009. Web, 28 Jan. 2009.

Winer, Linda. "Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter Dead at 78". Newsday. Newsday Inc., 25 Dec. 2008. Web. 10 Jan. 2009.

Yeates, Binnie (Yankovitch). "Harold Pinter – Romeo – 1948". Rpt. in "Romeo," by Jamie Andrews. Harold Pinter Archive Blog. British Library, 20 Apr. 2009. Web. 25 Apr. 2009. Rpt. from "Harold Pinter Romeo and Juliet – 1948." The Clove's Lines: The Newsletter of The Clove Club: The Old Boys of Hackney Downs School 3.2 (Mar. 2009): 8. Print.

To the top

Eragon (film)

Eragon Teaser Poster 10.jpg

Eragon is a 2006 live-action/CGI fantasy-adventure film based on the novel of the same name by author Christopher Paolini. The cast includes Edward Speleers in the title role, Jeremy Irons, Garrett Hedlund, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, John Malkovich, Djimon Hounsou, Joss Stone, and the voice of Rachel Weisz as Saphira the dragon.

The film was directed by Stefen Fangmeier, a first-time director, who had previously worked as a visual effects director on Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The screenplay was written by Peter Buchman, who is best known for Jurassic Park III. Principal photography took place at the Mafilm Fót Studios in Hungary, starting on August 1, 2005. Special visual effects and animation were by Weta Digital and Industrial Light & Magic.

Eragon was released worldwide between December 13 and December 15, 2006 by 20th Century Fox. It was the 10th worst reviewed film of 2006 on Rotten Tomatoes, and the 31st highest grossing film of 2006 in the US. A DVD and Blu-ray of the film was released March 20, 2007. It also aired on Disney XD at 5:00PM Eatern/4:00PM Pacific as a premiere on April 6, 2009 in the United States.

Eragon is a farm boy who is 17 years of age and lives in a small village named Carvahall in the fictional and magical country of Alagaësia that contains dragons and other such fictional creatures. While hunting, he finds a dragon egg that is the size of a small cat. From the egg hatches a blue dragon named Saphira. Eragon decides to keep Saphira a secret, but a pair of magical creatures, The Razac, are sent by the King of Alagaesia, Galbatorix, to find Eragon and the dragon. He flees home, and returns to find out his uncle Garrow has been killed by the Razac and so sets out on a journey to avenge his Uncle. Accompanied by a wise storyteller named Brom, Eragon and Saphira take up the legacy of legendary Dragon Riders. He learns magic, swordfighting, and dragon-riding to fulfil the legend of the dragon riders and his destiny, to help the varden overthrow the Empire and its tyrant king, Galbatorix.

Plans to create a movie based on Christopher Paolini's best-selling novel were first announced in February, 2004. 20th Century Fox purchased the rights to Eragon. Screenwriter Peter Buchman, whose credits included Jurassic Park III, wrote the screenplay. Buchman, a fan of fantasy and science fiction literature and films, says he was "blown away" by the author’s precociousness, his mastery of plot lines and characters, and his ability to create several completely imaginary worlds.

Edward Speleers was selected for the title role after a worldwide casting search. "Ed came in , and we just looked at each other and said, "That’s Eragon, that’s the guy from the book," said director Stefen Fangmeier: “I got a strong sense of Ed’s sparkle, of his life. It’s the kind of thing where you just know he’s destined to become a movie star. Speleers won the role as he was trying to learn his lines for a school production of Hamlet. Others considered for the role included Alex Pettyfer but since production took place in the Czech Republic and Pettyfer is afraid of flying, he declined the role.

On July 15, 2005, in an official press release from 20th Century Fox, it was confirmed that Speleers had signed on to the project. Over the following months, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Chris Egan and Djimon Hounsou were all confirmed as joining the Eragon cast. Paolini, author of the original novel, had expressed his wishes to be featured in a cameo role in the film — specifically, as a warrior who is beheaded in the battle of Farthen Dûr. However, he was unable because of his European book tour.

Jeremy Irons, who welcomed the opportunity to reintroduce himself to younger audiences, took on the role despite the fact that Dungeons and Dragons (a previous fantasy film he had acted in) had flopped, and he said that he thought that Eragon "had been better managed" than that film.

Filming ended a month later in September, beginning the film's post-production state, with Industrial Light and Magic creating the film's CGI.

The decision was made later on in production to add feathers to the standard bat-like wings of the dragon Saphira. The studio had been inspired by the Angel's wings in X-Men: The Last Stand. Jean Bolte, lead viewpaint artist for ILM on the film, calls them "skethers" (half-feathers, half-scales) and was inspired by the scales of the pangolin. It was eventually decided that Saphira's colors scheme should be subdued rather than vibrant in order to be more realistic.

The score for the movie was composed by Patrick Doyle who also did the score of 2005's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Avril Lavigne also recorded the theme song for the film, entitled "Keep Holding On," which was featured in the credits and on the soundtrack. The track was released as a single in 2006 (and later as a track on her 2007 album The Best Damn Thing) and reached 17 on Billboard Hot 100 singles charts in America.

The video game based on the motion picture was developed by Stormfront Studios and Amaze Entertainment and was released in November 2006.

Positive reviews described the film as "fun" and "the stuff boys' fantasies are made of." The CGI work was called "imaginative" and Saphira was called a "magnificent creation." Christopher Paolini stated he enjoyed the film, particularly praising the performances of Jeremy Irons and Edward Speleers.

Eragon grossed approximately $75 million in the US and $173.9 million elsewhere, totalling $249 million worldwide. Films need to gross roughly twice their production and distribution costs to break even: Eragon, which had a production budget of $100 million and distribution costs of an estimated $30 million, did not reach this threshold. Director Stefan Fangmeier believes that Fox were "modestly happy with the worldwide box office." Eragon is the 13th highest grossing fantasy-live action film within the United States; 21st when adjusted for inflation. It is the highest grossing film with a dragon at its focal point. Adjusted for inflation it falls to eighth place behind such films as Willow, Dragonheart, The Dark Crystal and Conan the Barbarian.

Eragon was in release for 17 weeks in the US, opening on December 15, 2006 and closing on April 8, 2007. It opened in 3020 theaters, earning $8.7 million on opening day and $23.2 million across opening weekend, ranked 2nd behind The Pursuit of Happyness. Eragon's second weekend US box office dropped by almost 70%, possibly due to the opening of Night at the Museum, another family film from 20th Century Fox, the 41st biggest second weekend drop since this statistic was kept. Eragon’s $75 million total US gross was the 31st highest for 2006.

The film earned $150 million in its opening weekend across 76 overseas markets, making it the #1 film worldwide. This was attributed to the sheer scope of Eragon's global launch as the film ranked number 1 in less than half of the overseas territories it was released in. The foreign box office competition for the film’s opening week was “soft;” had Eragon been released one year earlier, it would have been placed fourth. Eragon’s UK opening was “a disappointment,” in Australia it was “solid if unimpressive,” but its most impressive market was France, where the film earned more than $21 million. The film’s $249 million total worldwide gross was the 16th highest for 2006. Eragon grossed $86,995,160 on DVD from 3/20/2007-5/13/2007 .

Eragon was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the USA on March 20, 2007. It debuted at number 1 on the national DVD sales charts and at number 3 on the DVD rental charts. It grossed more than US$35.2 million in rentals. It was released on DVD in Europe on April 16, 2007 and in Australia on April 18, 2007. The film’s $249 million total worldwide gross was the 16th highest for 2006. Eragon grossed $86,995,160 on DVD from 3/20/2007-5/13/2007.

On April 30, 2007, Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy, of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame, released a humorous and mocking commentary for Eragon as part of their RiffTrax service.

To the top

The Lion King

Comparison of Kimba the White Lion (left) and The Lion King on pride rock (right)

The Lion King is a 1994 American animated feature film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation, released in theaters on June 15, 1994 by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 32nd film in the Disney animated feature canon. The story, which was strongly influenced by the William Shakespeare play Hamlet, takes place in a kingdom of anthropomorphic animals in Africa. The film was the highest grossing animated film of all time until the release of Finding Nemo (a Disney/Pixar computer-animated film). The Lion King still holds the record as the highest grossing traditionally animated film in history and belongs to an era known as the Disney Renaissance.

The Lion King is regarded as a landmark in animation, and received positive reviews from critics, who praised the film for its music and story. During its release in 1994, the film grossed more than $783 million worldwide, becoming the most successful film released that year, and it is currently the twenty-fourth highest-grossing feature film.

A musical film, The Lion King garnered two Academy Awards for its achievement in music and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Songs were written by composer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, with an original score by Hans Zimmer. Disney later produced two related movies: a sequel, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride; and a part prequel-part parallel, The Lion King 1½.

The Lion King takes place in the Pride Lands of the Serengeti, where a lion rules over the other animals as king. Rafiki (Robert Guillaume), a wise old mandrill, anoints Simba (cub by Jonathan Taylor Thomas, adult by Matthew Broderick), the newborn cub of King Mufasa (James Earl Jones) and Queen Sarabi (Madge Sinclair), and presents him to a gathering of animals at Pride Rock ("Circle of Life").

Mufasa takes Simba on a tour of the Pride Lands, teaching him about the "Circle of Life", the delicate balance affecting all living things. Taking advantage of the cub's naive nature, Simba's scheming uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) (who is very angry because Simba's birth means that he's no longer next in line to the throne) tells him about the elephant graveyard, a place where Mufasa has forbidden Simba to go. Simba asks his mother if he can go to the water-hole with his best friend, Nala (cub by Niketa Calame, adult by Moira Kelly). Their parents agree but only if Mufasa's majordomo, the hornbill Zazu (Rowan Atkinson), goes with them. Simba and Nala elude Zazu's supervision ("I Just Can't Wait to Be King") and go to the graveyard instead. There, the cubs are met by Shenzi, Banzai and Ed (Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings), spotted hyenas who try to kill them, but they are rescued by Mufasa.

On the way home, Mufasa orders Zazu to take Nala home so as to 'teach his son a lesson'. Once left alone, Mufasa tells his son how very disappointed he is in him and how he put both Nala and his lives in danger. He further explains to Simba that being brave doesn't mean to go looking for danger, and reveals he was scared he might have lost him. Having reached an understanding, they play together in the fields, where Simba asks his father if they will always be together. Mufasa tells him that the Kings of the Past are among the stars in the sky. They will be there to guide him and, when Mufasa's time comes, so will he.

Meanwhile, Scar gains the loyalty of the hyenas by claiming that if he becomes king, they'll "never go hungry again" ("Be Prepared"). During the song, Scar tells the hyenas that for this to happen they must kill Mufasa and Simba, thus establishing his plan of regicide.

Some time later, Scar lures Simba into a gorge for a "surprise from his father" while the hyenas create a wildebeest stampede. Alerted by Scar, Mufasa races to rescue Simba from the stampede. He saves his son but is left clinging to the edge of a steep cliff. Scar, instead of helping Mufasa, flings his brother into the stampede below. Simba sees his father fall and rushes down the cliff after him, only to find him dead. Scar convinces the young cub that he was responsible for his father's death and recommends that he flee from the Pride Lands to avoid punishment. Scar once again sends Shenzi, Banzai and Ed to kill Simba, but he escapes. Scar informs the pride that both Mufasa and Simba were killed and that he is assuming the throne as the next in line. Scar proclaims that "this is the dawning of a new era, in which lion and hyena come together", thus allowing the hyenas into the Pride Lands.

In a distant desert, Simba is found unconscious by Timon and Pumbaa (Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella), a meerkat-warthog duo who adopt and raise the cub under their worry-free philosophy ("Hakuna Matata"). When Simba has grown into an adult he is discovered by Nala, who tells him that Scar, through his irresponsibility, has turned the Pride Lands into a barren wasteland. She asks Simba to return and take his place as king but Simba refuses, still believing he caused his father's death. Simba shows Nala around his home and the two begin to fall in love ("Can You Feel the Love Tonight"). Nala, however, tells Simba that she does not understand why he will not return to Pride Rock and they end up in a quarrel. Rafiki arrives and persuades Simba to return to the Pride Lands, aided by the appearance of the ghost of Mufasa.

Once back at Pride Rock, Simba (with Timon, Pumbaa and Nala) is horrified to see the condition of the Pride Lands. Timon and Pumbaa create a diversion, allowing Simba and Nala to sneak past the hyenas guarding Pride Rock. After seeing his mother Sarabi struck by Scar for criticizing him, Simba announces his return. In response, Scar tells the pride that Simba was responsible for Mufasa's death and corners Simba at the edge of Pride Rock. As Simba dangles over the edge of Pride Rock, Scar proudly but quietly reveals to Simba that he killed Mufasa. Enraged, Simba leaps up and pins Scar to the ground, forcing him to admit the truth to the pride.

Atop Pride Rock's peak, Simba corners Scar. To gain Simba's mercy, Scar blames everything on the hyenas but Shenzi, Banzai and Ed overhear this betrayal. Simba demands that Scar go into exile. Scar pretends to leave but turns to attack Simba, resulting in a final duel. Simba triumphs over his uncle by kicking him over a low cliff. Scar survives the fall but finds himself surrounded by the now-resentful hyenas, who attack and kill him. Simba and Nala become the new king and queen of the Pride Lands. The film concludes with the Pride Lands turning green with life again and Rafiki presenting Simba and Nala's newborn cub as "The Circle of Life" continues.

At one time, the Disney Feature Animation staff felt The Lion King was less important than Pocahontas. Both projects were in production at the same time, and most of the staff preferred to work on Pocahontas, believing it would be the more prestigious and successful of the two. Songwriter Elton John thought his career had hit a new low when he was writing the music to the song "Hakuna Matata". However, the strongly enthusiastic audience reception to an early film trailer which consisted solely of the opening sequence with the song, "Circle of Life," suggested that the film would be very successful. As it turns out, while both films were commercial successes, The Lion King received more positive feedback and larger grosses than Pocahontas.

Elton John and Tim Rice wrote five original songs for this film, with Elton John performing "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" during the end credits. The film's score was composed by Hans Zimmer and supplemented with traditional African music and choir elements arranged by Lebo M.

The film's original motion picture soundtrack was released on July 13, 1994. It was the fourth best-selling album of the year on the Billboard 200 and the top-selling soundtrack.

On February 28, 1995, Disney released an album entitled Rhythm of the Pride Lands, which featured songs and performances inspired by, but not featured in, the film. Focusing on the African influences in the film's original music, most of the tracks were by African composer Lebo M, sung either partially or entirely in various African languages. Several songs included on the album would be used in other The Lion King-related projects, such as the stage musical and the direct-to-video sequels (e.g., "He Lives In You" was used as the opening song for The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, and a reincarnation of "Warthog Rhapsody", called "That's All I Need", in The Lion King 1½). Rhythm of the Pride Lands was initially issued in a very limited quantity, but there was a 2003 rerelease included in some international versions of The Lion King's special edition soundtrack, with an additional track. Additionally, The Lion King Expanded Score contains never-before-released instrumental music from Hans Zimmer's original score.

The compilation Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic includes "Circle of Life", "I Just Can't Wait to Be King", "Hakuna Matata", "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?", and "Be Prepared". The compilation Disney's Greatest Hits also includes "Circle of Life", "Hakuna Matata", and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?".

The Lion King became the highest grossing motion picture of 1994 worldwide, and the second highest in the USA (behind Forrest Gump). The film initially made US$312,855,561 domestically, including a short return to theaters in November 1994, and adding in its 2002 IMAX rerelease the domestic total is $328,541,776. The Lion King held the record for the most successful animated feature film until 2003 when it was surpassed by the computer animated Finding Nemo, but it remains the highest grossing hand-drawn animated feature film. When adjusted for inflation, however, it is the fourth top-grossing animated film (after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and Fantasia).

The Lion King garnered critical acclaim and at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 61 reviews collected, the film has an overall approval rating of 92%, with a weighted average score of 8/10. Among Rotten Tomatoes's Cream of the Crop, which consists of popular and notable critics from the top newspapers, websites, television and radio programs, the film holds an overall approval rating of 100 percent. By comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized 0–100 rating to reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 84 from the 13 reviews it collected.

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert called the film "a superbly drawn animated feature" and, in his print review wrote, "The saga of Simba, which in its deeply buried origins owes something to Greek tragedy and certainly to Hamlet, is a learning experience as well as an entertainment." However, on the television program Siskel & Ebert the film was praised but received a mixed reaction when compared to previous Disney films. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both gave the film a "Thumbs Up" but Siskel said that it was not as good as earlier films such as Beauty and the Beast and was "a good film, not a great one". Hal Hinson of The Washington Post called it "an impressive, almost daunting achievement" and felt that the film was "spectacular in a manner that has nearly become commonplace with Disney's feature-length animations", but was less enthusiastic toward the end of his review saying, "Shakespearean in tone, epic in scope, it seems more appropriate for grown-ups than for kids. If truth be told, even for adults it is downright strange." Owen Gleiberman, film critic for Entertainment Weekly, praised the film and wrote that it "has the resonance to stand not just as a terrific cartoon but as an emotionally pungent movie". Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers praised the film and felt that it was "a hugely entertaining blend of music, fun and eye-popping thrills, though it doesn't lack for heart". The staff of TV Guide wrote that "The film has some of Disney's most spectacular animation yet—particularly in the wildebeest stampede—and strong vocal performances, especially by skilled Broadway comedian Nathan Lane. However, it suffers from a curiously undeveloped story line." James Berardinelli, film critic for ReelViews, praised the film saying, "With each new animated release, Disney seems to be expanding its already-broad horizons a little more. The Lion King is the most mature (in more than one sense) of these films, and there clearly has been a conscious effort to please adults as much as children. Happily, for those of us who generally stay far away from 'cartoons', they have succeeded." In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "10 Top 10"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. The Lion King was acknowledged as the fourth best film in the animation genre.

The Lion King received many award nominations, including the Academy Award for Best Original Score (by Hans Zimmer) and the Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, both of which it won. Most notably, the song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John and Tim Rice won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, the BMI Film Music Award, and the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance Male.

The Lion King was first released on VHS and laserdisc in the United States on March 3, 1995, under Disney's "Masterpiece Collection" video series. In addition, Deluxe Editions of both formats were released. The VHS Deluxe Edition included the film, an exclusive lithograph of Rafiki and Simba (in some editions), a commemorative "Circle of Life" epigraph, six concept art lithographs, another tape with the half-hour TV show The Making of The Lion King, and a certificate of authenticity. The CAV laserdisc Deluxe Edition also contained the film, six concept art lithographs and The Making of The Lion King, and added storyboards, character design artwork, concept art, rough animation, and a directors' commentary that the VHS edition did not have, on a total of four double sided disks. The VHS tape quickly became one of the best-selling videotapes of all time: 4.5 million tapes were sold on the first day and ultimately sales totaled more than 30 million before these home video versions went into moratorium in 1997.

On October 7, 2003, the film was rereleased on VHS and released on DVD for the first time, titled The Lion King: Platinum Edition, as part of Disney's Platinum Edition line of animated classic DVDs. The DVD release featured two versions of the film on the first disc, a remastered version created for the 2002 IMAX release and an edited version of the IMAX release purporting to be the original 1994 theatrical version. A second disc, with bonus features, was also included in the DVD release. The film's soundtrack was provided both in its original Dolby 5.1 track and in a new Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix, making this one of the first Disney DVDs so equipped. By means of seamless branching, the film could be viewed either with or without a newly-created scene — a short conversation in the film replaced with a complete song ("The Morning Report"). A Special Collector's Gift Set was also released, containing the DVD set, five exclusive lithographed character portraits (new sketches created and signed by the original character animators), and an introductory book entitled The Journey.

The Platinum Edition of The Lion King was criticized by fans for its false advertising: producer Don Hahn had earlier stated that the film would be in its original 1994 theatrical version, but it was confirmed after release that it was the "digitally enhanced" IMAX version instead, which is slightly different from the original theatrical cut. One of the most noticeable differences is the re-drawn crocodiles in the "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" sequence. Despite this criticism, more than two million copies of the Platinum Edition DVD and VHS units were sold on the first day of release. A DVD boxed set of the three The Lion King films (in two-disc Special Edition formats) was released on December 6, 2004. In January 2005, the film, along with the sequels, went back into moratorium, but new and used copies still sell very well.

Disney has yet to announce a date for the Blu-ray Disc release, although the studio showed clips of the film on Blu-ray at the Consumer Electronics Show 2008. It is worth noting that since Disney has announced all future Platinum Edition titles until 2010 (Pinocchio, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, Fantasia 2000 and Beauty and the Beast) , a Blu-ray release/DVD re-release of The Lion King is not expected until 2011 the earliest.

The Lion King was the first Disney animated feature to be an original story, rather than being based on an already-existing story. The filmmakers have said that the story of The Lion King was inspired by the Joseph and Moses stories from the Bible and William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Certain elements of the film, however, bear a resemblance to a famous 1960s Japanese anime television show, Kimba the White Lion. One similarity is the protagonists' names: Kimba and Simba, although the word "simba" means "lion" in Swahili. Many characters in Kimba have an analogue in The Lion King and that various individual scenes are nearly identical in composition and camera angle. Early production artwork on the film's Platinum Edition DVD even includes a white lion. Disney's official stance is that the similarities are all coincidental.

Christopher Vogler, in his book The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, described Disney's request that he suggest how to improve the plot of The Lion King by incorporating ideas from Hamlet. It has also been noted that the plot bears some resemblance to the West African Epic of Sundiata.

In one scene of the film's original VHS and LaserDisc releases, it appears as if the word "SEX" might have been embedded into the dust flying in the sky when Simba flops down, which conservative activist Donald Wildmon asserted was a subliminal message intended to promote sexual promiscuity. The film's animators, however, have stated that the letters spell "SFX" (a common abbreviation of "special effects"), and was intended as an innocent "signature" created by the effects animation team. Due to the controversy it had caused, the scene was edited for the film's 2003 DVD and VHS releases, and the dust no longer formed any letters.

The use of the song "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in a scene with Timon and Pumbaa has led to disputes between Disney and the family of South African Solomon Linda, who composed the song (originally titled "Mbube") in 1939. In July 2004, the family filed suit, seeking $1.6 million in royalties from Disney. In February 2006, Linda's heirs reached a legal settlement with Abilene Music, who held the worldwide rights and had licensed the song to Disney for an undisclosed amount of money.

In August 2007, the Hamas organization produced an animated propaganda film that resembled the style of The Lion King. The program was aired via their television station, Al-Aqsa TV. Hamas was portrayed as a lion that chased and killed rats that bore the likenesses of members of the secular Fatah organization in Gaza. The program was briefly aired but was pulled off the air for revision.

Because of its popularity, The Lion King has been referenced in a variety of media. For instance, the animated TV series The Simpsons spoofed the film in the episode "'Round Springfield". Toward the end of the episode, the ghost of Mufasa appears in the clouds with Bleeding Gums Murphy (who had died earlier that episode) and Darth Vader, and James Earl Jones (who voiced both Mufasa and Darth Vader) says, "This is CNN. You must avenge my death, Kimba... dah, I mean Simba," a reference to the Lion King/Kimba the White Lion controversy. Simba and Nala's escapade to the elephant graveyard was mentioned in a Season 2 episode of House.

Disney also frequently referenced The Lion King in its own films and shows. For example, in the Disney-released, Pixar-produced 1995 computer animated film Toy Story, the song "Hakuna Matata" can be heard playing in Andy's car during the film's climax. Pumbaa made a cameo in Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), and Hercules (1997) paid homage to both The Lion King and the Nemean lion: Scar's skin is worn by Hercules while he is posing for a painting on a Greek vase.

The success of the film led to several spin-offs, the first being a 70 mm film released in 1995 titled Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable. It promoted environmental friendliness and was shown in the The Land Pavilion's Harvest Theater at Epcot in Walt Disney World. A spin-off television series called The Lion King's Timon and Pumbaa, which focused on the titular meerkat and warthog duo in a more modern, human world than that of the film, also debuted in 1995.

In addition, a direct-to-video sequel called The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was released in 1998, focusing on Simba and his daughter Kiara as she falls in love with Kovu, a former member of Scar's pride. Finally, a direct-to-video prequel-parallel, The Lion King 1½ (also known as The Lion King 3: Hakuna Matata), was released in 2004, providing some background on Timon and Pumbaa and giving the timeline of The Lion King from their perspective.

Many characters from The Lion King, including Timon, Pumbaa, Simba, Nala, Rafiki, Zazu, Shenzi, Banzai, Ed, Scar and Mufasa, appear in the Disney Channel series House of Mouse. Some of them also appear in the series' spin-off movies Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse and Mickey's House of Villains.

The Lion King was adapted into a successful Broadway stage musical in 1997. The musical is based on The Lion King film and is directed by Julie Taymor, using actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets. The musical won six Tony Awards including Best Musical and is produced by Disney Theatrical.

Two video games based on the film have been released. The first, titled The Lion King, was published in 1994 by Virgin and was released for the NES (only in Europe), SNES, Game Boy, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, PC, and Amiga. The second game, called The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure, was published in 2000 by Activision and was released for the PlayStation and Game Boy Color. It was based on the first film and its storyline continued into the sequel.

In 1996, Disney Interactive and 7th Level released Timon & Pumbaa's Jungle Games for the PC. It was later seen on the SNES. The Games include: one in which Pumbaa uses his gas to destroy fruits and bugs (and even a kitchen sink) that fall out of trees, a variation of pinball, a game where you use a peashooter to hit enemy creatures in the jungle, a game where Timon has to jump onto hippos in order to cross a river to deliver bugs to Pumbaa, and a variation of Puyo Puyo called Bug Drop.

A game called The Lion King 1½ was published in 2003 for the Game Boy Advance, based on the direct-to-video film and featuring Timon and Pumbaa as the playable characters. In the Disney and Square Enix video game Kingdom Hearts, Simba appears as an ally that Sora can summon during battles. He also appears again as a summon character in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. In Kingdom Hearts II, the Pride Lands are a playable world and a number of characters from the film appear, including Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, Nala, Mufasa, Rafiki, Scar, Shenzi, Banzai and Ed.

To the top

Judi Dench

Judi Dench at the BAFTAs 2007.jpg

Dame Judith Olivia Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA (born 9 December 1934) is an English actress. She has won nine BAFTAs, seven Laurence Olivier Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, an Oscar, two Golden Globes and a Tony Award.

Dench was born in Heworth, York, North Riding of Yorkshire, the daughter of Eleanora Olave Jones, a native of Dublin, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor who met Judi's mother while studying medicine at Trinity College. Dench, a Quaker, was raised a Methodist until she attended The Mount School, a Quaker Public Secondary school in York, and lived in Tyldesley, Greater Manchester. Notable relatives include her older brother, actor Jeffrey Dench, and her niece, Emma Dench, a Roman historian previously at Birkbeck, University of London, and currently at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

When Dench was 13, she entered The Mount School, York. In 1971, Dench married British actor Michael Williams and they had their only child, Tara Cressida Williams (aka "Finty Williams"), on 24 September 1972. She has followed the family's theatrical tradition, becoming a highly accomplished actress. Dench and her husband starred together in several stage productions, as well as separately, but then paired again to make television history with Bob Larbey's hit British sitcom, A Fine Romance (1981–84).

Michael Williams died from lung cancer in 2001, aged 65.

In Britain, Dench has developed a reputation as one of the greatest actresses of the post-war period, primarily through her work in theatre, which has been her forte throughout her career. She has more than once been named number one in polls for Britain's best actress. Research to find "the perfect voice" has indicated that Dench's voice is one of the best.

Dench was awarded the OBE in 1970, became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1988, and a Companion of Honour in 2005. She gained worldwide popular fame after taking over the role of M in the James Bond film series in 1995, and subsequently through many acclaimed film appearances.

Dench is a patron of The Leaveners, Friends School Saffron Walden and the Archway Theatre, Horley, UK. She became president of Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London in 2006, taking over from Sir John Mills, and is also president of the Questors Theatre. In May 2006, she became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She is also patron of Ovingdean Hall School, a special day and boarding school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Brighton.

Dench is an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. In 2000-2001 she received an Honorary DLitt from Durham University. On 24 June 2008, she was honoured by the University of St Andrews, receiving the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) at the university's graduation ceremony.

Judi Dench trained as a set designer before taking up acting at the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art. Subsequently, she was involved on a non-professional basis in the first three productions of the modern revival of the York Mystery Plays in the 1950s. Most famously, she played the role of the Virgin Mary in the 1957 production, performed on a fixed stage in the Museum Gardens.

In September 1957, she made her first professional stage appearance with the Old Vic Company, at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, as Ophelia in Hamlet, then her London debut in the same production at the Old Vic. She remained a member of the company for four seasons, 1957–1961, her roles including Katherine in Henry V in 1958 (which was also her New York debut) and as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet in October 1960, directed and designed by Franco Zeffirelli. During this period, she toured the United States and Canada, and appeared in Yugoslavia and at the Edinburgh Festival.

She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in December 1961 playing Anya in The Cherry Orchard at the Aldwych Theatre in London, and made her Stratford-upon-Avon debut in April 1962 as Isabella in Measure for Measure. She subsequently spent seasons in repertory both with the Nottingham Playhouse from January 1963 (including a West African tour as Lady Macbeth for the British Council), and with the Oxford Playhouse Company from April 1964. That same year she made her film debut in The Third Secret.

But one of her most notable achievements with the RSC was her performance as Lady Macbeth in 1976. Nunn's acclaimed production of Macbeth was first staged with a minimalist design at The Other Place theatre in Stratford. Its small round stage focused attention on the psychological dynamics of the characters, and both Ian McKellen in the title role, and Dench, received exceptionally favourable notices. "If this is not great acting I don't know what is.": Michael Billington, The Guardian. "It will astonish me if the performance is matched by any in this actress's generation.": J C Trewin, The Lady. The production transferred to London, opening at the Donmar Warehouse in September 1977, was filmed for television, and later released on VHS and finally DVD. She won the SWET Best Actress Award in 1977.

She enjoyed a romantic pairing with Jeremy Irons in 1978, in the BBC television film Langrishe, Go Down, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, directed by David Jones, in which she played one of three spinster sisters living in a fading Irish mansion in the Waterford countryside.

Dench made her directing debut in 1988 with the Renaissance Theatre Company's touring season, Renaissance Shakespeare on the Road, co-produced with the Birmingham Rep, and ending with a three month repertory programme at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Dench's contribution was a staging of Much Ado About Nothing, set in the Napoleonic era, which starred Kenneth Branagh and Samantha Bond as Benedick and Beatrice. In the same season, Geraldine McEwan and Derek Jacobi also made their directorial debuts.

She has made numerous appearances in the West End including the role of Miss Trant in the 1974 musical version of The Good Companions at Her Majesty's Theatre. In 1981, Dench was due to play the title role of Grizabella in the original production of Cats, but was forced to pull out due to a torn Achilles tendon, leaving Elaine Paige to play the role. She has acted with the National Theatre in London where, in September 1995, she played Desiree Armfeldt in a major revival of Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music, for which she won an Olivier Award.

In 1995, she became known to an international audience after taking over the role of M (James Bond's boss) with the James Bond film series, starting with GoldenEye. She is the only actor from Pierce Brosnan's Bond films to remain in the rebooted franchise. She has appeared in Casino Royale (2006) and its direct sequel Quantum of Solace (2008).

She has won multiple awards for performances on the London stage, including a record six Laurence Olivier Awards. She also won the Tony Award for her 1999 Broadway performance in the role of Esme Allen in David Hare's Amy's View. Alongside her numerous award winning performances, she has also managed to take on the role of Director for a number of stage productions. Dench won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare in Love.

Judi Dench has frequently appeared with her close friend Geoffrey Palmer. They co-starred in the series As Time Goes By, where she plays Jean Pargetter, becoming Jean Hardcastle after she marries Lionel (Palmer). The program spanned nine seasons. They also worked together on the films Mrs. Brown and Tomorrow Never Dies, both filmed in 1997. Dench has also lent her incredible voice to many animated characters, narrations, and various other voice work. She plays the role of "Miss Lilly" in the children's animated series Angelina Ballerina (alongside her daughter, Finty Williams, as the voice of Angelina) and as Mrs. Calloway in the Disney animated film Home on the Range. She has narrated various classical music recordings (notably Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Britten's Canticles-The Heart of the Matter), and has appeared in numerous BBC radio broadcasts as well as commercials. Her many television appearances include lead roles in the series A Fine Romance and As Time Goes By. In the U.S., As Time Goes By has been run repeatedly on PBS, and may be -- along with her Bond role -- the entity for which Dench is best known to American audiences.

Dench remains one of the biggest draws on the London stage. She is often compared and contrasted with Dame Maggie Smith, another British actress of the same generation, with whom she has appeared in several movies, including Tea with Mussolini (1999) and Ladies in Lavender (2004), and on stage in David Hare's two-role play Breath of Life (Haymarket, October 2002). Dench returned to the West End stage in April 2006 in Hay Fever alongside Peter Bowles, Belinda Lang and Kim Medcalf.

She finished off a busy 2006 with the role of Mistress Quickly in the RSC's new musical The Merry Wives, a version of The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Dench's more recent film career has been extremely successful. She successfully garnered six Academy Award nominations in nine years: for Mrs. Brown in 1997; her Oscar-winning turn as Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love in 1998; for Chocolat in 2000; for the lead role of writer Iris Murdoch in Iris in 2001 (with Kate Winslet playing her as a younger woman); for Mrs Henderson Presents (a romanticised history of the Windmill Theatre) in 2005; and for 2006's Notes on a Scandal, a film for which she received critical acclaim, including Golden Globe, Academy Award, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild nominations.

In 2007 the BBC issued The Judi Dench Collection, DVDs of eight television dramas: Talking to a Stranger quartet (1966), Keep an Eye on Amélie (1973), The Cherry Orchard (1981), Going Gently (1981), Ghosts (with Kenneth Branagh and Michael Gambon, 1987), Make and Break (with Robert Hardy, 1987), Can You Hear Me Thinking? (co-starring with her husband, Michael Williams, 1990) and Absolute Hell (1991).

Dench, as Miss Matty Jenkins, co-stars with Eileen Atkins, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton and Francesca Annis, in the BBC One five-part series Cranford. The series began transmission in the UK in November 2007, and on the BBC's US producing partner station WGBH (PBS Boston) in spring 2008.

Dench narrated the updated Walt Disney World Epcot attraction Spaceship Earth.

In February 2008, she was named as the first official patron of the York Youth Mysteries 2008, a project to allow young people to explore the York Mystery Plays through dance, film-making and circus. This culminated on 21 June with a day of city centre performances in York.

She worked on the 22nd Bond adventure Quantum Of Solace and reprised her role as M.

She is also interested in Thoroughbred horse racing and in partnership with her chauffeur Bryan Agar owns a four-year-old horse "Smokey Oakey" who won the 2008 Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

She will return to the West End from 13 March—23 May 2009 in Yukio Mishima's Madame De Sade, directed by Michael Grandage as part of the Donmar season at Wyndham's Theatre.

To the top

The French Lieutenant's Woman (film)

The French Lieutenant's Woman is a 1981 film directed by Karel Reisz and adapted by playwright Harold Pinter. It is based on the novel of the same title by John Fowles. The music score is by Carl Davis and the cinematography by Freddie Francis.

The film stars Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons with Hilton McRae, Jean Faulds, Peter Vaughan, Colin Jeavons, Liz Smith, Patience Collier, Richard Griffiths, David Warner, Alun Armstrong, Penelope Wilton and Leo McKern.

The plot concerns the love affair between a Victorian gentleman and a woman who has been jilted by a French officer, scandalizing the "polite society" of Lyme Regis.

In the original book, the author is very much present - constantly addressing the reader directly and commenting on his characters, and on Victorian society in general, from his Twentieth-century perspective. A direct adaptation would have required a continual voice over.

Instead, the film creates the effect of the 19th Century society looked at from a 20th Century perspective by having a story within a story, the Victorian story being a film being shot in the present and the actors portraying the two Victorian characters having a love affair in their actual life, with the film shifting constantly between the two centuries. And though the actors are not bound by Victorian mores in their actual present-day lives, their affair still presents hard dilemmas since each is in a relationship to somebody else.

Also, instead of trying to create a literal translation of the novel's alternate endings, Pinter's screenplay adopted a more cinematic approach by having the characters' story ends one way, the actors' another.

The book was published in 1969 and unlike his previous novels the transfer to the big screen was a protracted process with the film rights changing hands a number of times before a treatment, funding and cast were eventually finalized. In 1977 Malcolm Bradbury and Christopher Bigsby approached Fowles to suggest they work on a television adaptation which Fowles was amenable to, but then producer Saul Zaentz came in and the film version was finally greenlit.

A number of names were attached to the project, directors mooted included Sidney Lumet, Robert Bolt, Fred Zinnemann and Milos Forman. The script went through a number of treatments including one by Dennis Potter in 1975 and James Costigan in 1976 before Pinter's final draft was used. Actors considered for the role of Charles Smithson/Mike included Robert Redford and Richard Chamberlain and Sarah/Anna included Francesca Annis, Gemma Jones and Fowles's choice Helen Mirren.

To the top

Source : Wikipedia