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Roman Polanski

Roman Polanski

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Also Known As: Romek Polanski, Raimund Polanski, Rajmund Roman Liebling Died:
Born: August 18, 1933 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Paris, FR Profession: director, screenwriter, producer, actor, editor, author

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Perhaps one of the most notorious directors in Hollywood, Roman Polanski was as known for his tumultuous personal life as he was for his dark, disquieting and quasi-autobiographical films. After a childhood stained by Nazi atrocities, Polanski emerged from his native Poland with the Oscar-nominated "Knife in the Water" (1962). He went on to establish a reputation with several films shot in England - namely the claustrophobic sexual thriller "Repulsion" (1965) - before reaching artistic and commercial heights in America with "Rosemary's Baby" (1968). But his newfound success quickly descended into tragedy in 1969 when several of his friends and his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, were brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson's "Family." After directing the landmark film noir, "Chinatown" (1974), Polanski became a victim of his own excesses when he fled the United States to avoid serving prison time following a conviction for statutory rape. As a fugitive, Polanski continued making films, albeit with less frequency and smaller budgets. But he found himself on top again when he tapped into his own experiences for the Oscar-winning Holocaust drama, "The Pianist" (2002). As an artist who exerted...

Perhaps one of the most notorious directors in Hollywood, Roman Polanski was as known for his tumultuous personal life as he was for his dark, disquieting and quasi-autobiographical films. After a childhood stained by Nazi atrocities, Polanski emerged from his native Poland with the Oscar-nominated "Knife in the Water" (1962). He went on to establish a reputation with several films shot in England - namely the claustrophobic sexual thriller "Repulsion" (1965) - before reaching artistic and commercial heights in America with "Rosemary's Baby" (1968). But his newfound success quickly descended into tragedy in 1969 when several of his friends and his pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, were brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson's "Family." After directing the landmark film noir, "Chinatown" (1974), Polanski became a victim of his own excesses when he fled the United States to avoid serving prison time following a conviction for statutory rape. As a fugitive, Polanski continued making films, albeit with less frequency and smaller budgets. But he found himself on top again when he tapped into his own experiences for the Oscar-winning Holocaust drama, "The Pianist" (2002). As an artist who exerted tremendous control - often co-writing screenplays and sometimes acting - Polanski instilled his films with a uniquely personal worldview. His recurring themes of violence and victimization, isolation and alienation, and a profound sense of the absurd, permeated a body of work that long remained unmatched by many a director before and since.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
4.
  Oliver Twist (2005) Director
5.
  Pianist, The (2002) Director
6.
  Ninth Gate, The (2000) Director
7.
  Death and the Maiden (1994) Director
8.
  Bitter Moon (1992) Director
9.
  Frantic (1988) Director
10.
  Pirates (1986) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
4.
 Quiet Chaos (2008)
6.
 Rush Hour 3 (2007)
9.
 Dead Tired (1994) Himself
10.
 Une Pure Formalite (1994) Inspector
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1933:
Born in Paris, France
1936:
At age three, moved with his parents to his father's native Kraków, Poland
1940:
As a seven-year-old, witnessed the Nazi's sealing off the Kraków Ghetto where his family lived
:
Participated in smuggling runs by slipping out of the ghetto through secret passageways
1941:
Avoided capture after his father pushed him through a gap in the wall sealing the ghetto
1944:
Returned to Kraków at age 11; reunited with father and sister
1945:
Began acting in radio shows at age 12
1946:
Set up by his father in his own apartment at age 13
:
Became a celebrity on Krakow radio, playing tough street kids
1954:
Began acting in films and making documentaries
1954:
Acted in Andrzej Wajda's first feature-length film "A Generation"; first collaboration with the director
:
Made several short films while studing at Lódz, including "Two Men and a Wardrobe" (1958) and "When Angels Fall" (1959)
:
Moved to Paris, France and met frequent collaborator Gérard Brach
1962:
First feature-length film, "Knife in the Water"; also co-wrote; earned first Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
1964:
First collaboration with Gérard Brach, the "Amsterdam" segment of "Les plus belles escroqueries du monde"
1965:
First English language film, "Repulsion"
1968:
Wrote and directed his successful U.S. debut, "Rosemary's Baby"; produced by Robert Evans; garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay
1969:
Sharon Tate, Polanski's pregnant wife, and four others were brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson's "Family" (August)
1971:
First feature following his wife's murder, the violent film version of Shakespeare's "Macbeth"
1974:
Directed the commercially and critically successful "Chinatown," starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway; produced by Robert Evans; film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards
1976:
Directed and played the lead role in "The Tenant"
1976:
Served as guest editor for the Christmas issue of French <i>Vogue</i> featuring Nastassja Kinski
1977:
Arrested for having sex with a thirteen-year-old girl he was auditioning for a <i>Vogue</i> photo layout
1978:
Accepting a plea bargain and plead guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor; served 42 days under psychiatric evaluation in the Chino State Psychiatric Prison
1978:
Tipped off that the judge was going to disregard the plea bargain, and sentence him to additional jail time, Polanski fled to France, where he held citizenship; France refuses to extradite its own citizens
1979:
Directed the well-received Tess (1979) starring Nastassja Kinski; film dedicated to the memory of Polanski's late wife, Sharon Tate; received third Academy Award nomination
1984:
Penned the autobiography <i>Roman by Polanski</i>
1986:
First film in seven years, "Pirates"
1987:
Directed Harrison Ford and future wife, Emmanuelle Seigner in "Frantic"
1992:
Helmed (also wrote and produced) "Bitter Moon" starring Hugh Grant, Peter Coyote and Emmanuelle Seigner
1993:
Settled out of court in a civil suit with his former accuser, Samantha Geimer
1996:
Directed the Paris production of "Master Class"
1997:
Directed a stage version of "The Fearless Vampire Killers" in Vienna as "Tanz der Vampire"
1999:
Returned to directing features with the supernatural thriller "The Ninth Gate," starring Johnny Depp
2002:
Acted in Andrzej Wajda's "Zemsta"
2002:
Directed "The Pianist," a true story about a Jewish-Polish piano player Wladyslaw Szpilman, who survived the Warsaw ghetto; won top prize at Cannes
2005:
Directed a film adaptation of the Charles Dickens' novel "Oliver Twist"
2007:
Made a cameo in "Rush Hour 3" as a French police official
2008:
Subject of the documentary, "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired"
2010:
Co-wrote, co-produced and directed the film adaptation of "The Ghost Writer"; Polanski was arrested before the films released and he had to complete post-production from his house arrest at his Swiss villa in Gstaad
2011:
Directed Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly in "Carnage"; film based on Yasmina Reza's acclaimed play "God of Carnage"; also co-wrote screenplay with Reza
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Lódz Film School: - 1954 - 1959

Notes

In 2003 at the height of Polanksi's noteriety for directing "The Pianist ," Samantha Geimer, the alleged victim in Polanksi's statutory rape case when she was 13, claimed in an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times that the director fled to France because the judge in the case reneged on a plea bargain struck by both parties that limited Polanski's punishment to the 40 days he had already spent incarcerated awaiting trial. "Who wouldn't think about running when facing a 50-year sentence from a judge who was clearly more interested in his own reputation than a fair judgment?," Geimer wrote. She also indicated that she believed his film work should be judged on its own merits: "I believe that Mr. Polanski and his film should be honored according to the quality of the work. What he does for a living and how good he is at it, have nothing to do with me or what he did to me," said Geimer, describing herself as a happily married mother of three.

"[Polanski] would be excommunicated by Hollywood because his wife had the bad taste to be murdered in the papers,' his friend Jack Nicolson said later." --From "Profile: Artist in Exile" by Lawrence Weshler, The New Yorker, December 5, 1994.

"When Sharon died, the press said the most terrible things about us--that it was connected to black magic, that it had something to do with the type of movies I had always made. They just lie and lie and lie, but when they print it, then people think it's true. When they found out that Manson was behind it, then they changed their song. But they were relentless. And when the trouble happened with the girl, it was like everyone said, 'We were right about him, he's crazy, that's why his wife got killed.'" --Polanski quoted in "Roman Holiday" by Martha Frankel, Movieline, January/February 1995.

"As for the ending [of "Chinatown"], [screenwriter Robert] Towne, in his original version, had had the Faye Dunaway character killing her father [and incestuous tormentor], the creepy John Huston character, before he could get his hands on the barely pubescent child whom he had sired upon her and whom she was desperately endeavoring to protect. Instead, Polanski had the Faye Dunaway character herself getting gruesomely killed right in front of the child, whom the Huston character now enveloped in his oily embrace, leading her away as Jack Nicholson's detective character looked on ineffectually and a police pal muttered, 'Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.'" --From "Profile: Artist in Exile" by Lawrence Weshler in The New Yorker, December 5, 1994.

"When Polanski discusses the violence that occurs in his films, he often asserts that, far from being a sensationalist, he is a pure realist; and certainly he is one of the few directors around who have experienced at first hand such a sheer amount and so many varieties of violence." --From "Profile: Artist in Exile" by Lawrence Weshler in The New Yorker, December 5, 1994.

Polanski served as president of the 44th Annual Cannes Film Festival committee in 1991.

"I have a friend who worked for Polanski on "Repulsion". For years after he kept the director's picture pasted inside one of his shoes, 'So every time I took a step I'd crush the wretched dwarf.' Roman Polanski has no problem playing the prick. He can also play a smarmy civil servant or a sentimental fool aching to be victimized. Terrorized children--Polanski eluded the Nazis--pick up useful tricks. If he hadn't needed to control things, he could've been an actor of Ben Kingsley's stature." --From Georgia Brown's review of "A Pure Formality" in Village Voice May 30, 1995.

"I miss the efficiency of the studios, I miss the big machine, I know how to operate it. It has great inertia this machine, but if you know how to use it, you can do alot of interesting things."--Polanski's response when asked if he misses working in America, Village Voice, April 19, 1994.

Polanski was supposed to direct "The Double" in 1996. Conflicts with star John Travolta led to Travolta's leaving the film days before shooting was to begin. Polanski eventually left the project as well.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Barbara Lass. Actor. Born c. 1935; married in December 1959; divorced.
wife:
Sharon Tate. Actor. Born in 1943; married in January 1968; met while acting in Polanski's "The Fearless Vampire Killers" (1967); murdered by the Charles Manson clan in August 1969; was eight months pregnant at time of death.
companion:
Nastassja Kinski. Actor. Born in 1960; began relationship with Polanski at age 15; appeared in a photo spread in an issue of French VOGUE guest edited by Polanski; starred in "Tess" (1979).
wife:
Emmanuelle Seigner. Actor. Born c. 1966; married in August 1989; starred in the Polanski film "Frantic" (1988); granddaughter of actor Louis Seigner.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Bula Polanski. Russian; half Jewish; left her first husband to marry Ryszard Polanski in 1932; gassed to death (while four months pregnant) in Auschwitz concentration camp during WWII.
father:
Ryszard Polanski. Painter; plastics manufacturer. Polish Jew; died of cancer c. 1984.
step-mother:
Wanda Polanski.
half-sister:
Annette. Daughter of his mother and her first husband.
cousin:
Roma Ligocka.
son:
Paul Richard Polanski. Sharon Tate was eight months pregnant when she was murdered.
daughter:
Morgane Polanski. Born on January 20, 1993; mother, Emmanuelle Seigner.
son:
Elvis Polanski. Mother, Emmanuelle Seigner.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"The Roman Polanski Story" Delilah/Grove Press
"Roman"

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