skip navigation
Guy Ritchie

Guy Ritchie

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Also Known As: Guy Stuart Ritchie Died:
Born: September 10, 1968 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Hertfordshire, England, GB Profession: director, screenwriter, producer, construction worker

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though he may have enjoyed cultivating his image as a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, British filmmaker Guy Ritchie's roots were in England's upper class. Nonetheless, Ritchie directed some of the most stylish caper comedies about blue-collar thugs and other lower-class misfits ever to emerge from his native land. Starting with "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" (1999), the director arrived onto the filmmaking landscape with a unique twist on an old genre that employed flashy camera moves, punchy dialogue tinged with thick Cockney accents, and a seemingly endless series of double-crosses that landed a motley crew of East End thugs in more trouble than they ever wanted. Ritchie built on the attention he received from "Lock, Stock" with a second London crime saga, "Snatch" (2000), which some complained was nothing more than a variation on his previous film. Though he temporarily became a laughingstock - along with his pop megastar wife, Madonna - for their dismal remake "Swept Away" (2002), Ritchie nonetheless had tried something different. He soon reinvented himself as a capable director of mainstream Hollywood fare with hits like "Sherlock Holmes" (2009) and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."...

Though he may have enjoyed cultivating his image as a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, British filmmaker Guy Ritchie's roots were in England's upper class. Nonetheless, Ritchie directed some of the most stylish caper comedies about blue-collar thugs and other lower-class misfits ever to emerge from his native land. Starting with "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" (1999), the director arrived onto the filmmaking landscape with a unique twist on an old genre that employed flashy camera moves, punchy dialogue tinged with thick Cockney accents, and a seemingly endless series of double-crosses that landed a motley crew of East End thugs in more trouble than they ever wanted. Ritchie built on the attention he received from "Lock, Stock" with a second London crime saga, "Snatch" (2000), which some complained was nothing more than a variation on his previous film. Though he temporarily became a laughingstock - along with his pop megastar wife, Madonna - for their dismal remake "Swept Away" (2002), Ritchie nonetheless had tried something different. He soon reinvented himself as a capable director of mainstream Hollywood fare with hits like "Sherlock Holmes" (2009) and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (2015).

Born on Sept. 10, 1968 in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, Ritchie was initially raised by his father, John, an advertising executive responsible for the legendary Hamlet cigar commercials, and his mother, Amber, a model. When he was five, his parents divorced, leaving Ritchie to live with his mum, who married Sir Michael Leighton, the 11th heir of a 300-year-old barony. Though he spent some of his youth living at Leigton's 17th-century estate, Ritchie went in and out of some 10 odd boarding school, largely because of his suffering from severe dyslexia. By the time he was 15, Ritchie was expelled from his last school, Stanbridge Earls in Hampton, later claiming he was kicked out for doing drugs. His father disputed the account, saying his son was caught skipping class and sneaking girls into his room. In the end, all Ritchie could manage was a GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) in film studies.

After leaving school for good, he began a series of odd jobs until his father tapped his industry contacts to get him a job as a runner at a production in the Soho district of London. At 25, Ritchie quickly learned the ropes and began directing commercials and music videos to learn the filmmaking ropes. With the money he earned, Ritchie funded his first film, "The Hard Case" (1995), a 20-minute short about a group of blue-collar lads entering a high-stakes poker game. Also written by Ritchie, who took on the screenplay after failing to find another writer, "The Hard Case" demonstrated his fine-tuned ear for working class dialects and penchant for deftly crafted plots centered in the criminal world. The film attracted the attention of Trudie Styler, wife of music legend Sting, who agreed to finance his first feature length movie, "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" (1999), a variation on the criminal theme Ritchie utilized in his short.

With Styler serving as executive producer - and Sting making an appearance as a bar owner - Ritchie told the story of a group of likeable smalltime crooks who try to scam a local crime boss at poker, only to find themselves a half million pounds in the hole. Ritchie's first movie firmly established his knack for catchy dialogue, sharp camera angles and a punchy soundtrack that helped glamorize the tawdry world of East End criminals. Though a hit on the indie circuit, the film largely failed to catch on with American audiences, who had trouble parsing the characters' thick Cockney accents. Nonetheless, stateside critics stood up and took notice of Ritchie's obvious talents.

Around the time his first film was being released, Ritchie began dating pop superstar Madonna, whom he would go on to marry in December 2000 in an exclusive Scottish ceremony, after the couple had a son, Rocco, earlier that same year. The relationship between the hot young director and the larger-than-life icon attracted more than its share of tabloid attention, from profiling their supposed marital problems to their mutual commitment to the Jewish faith, Kabbalah. Meanwhile, Ritchie directed "Snatch" (2000), a return to the familiar territory of low-life thugs and working-class gangsters. Because of his newfound celebrity status, Ritchie managed to land topnotch talent like Benecio Del Toro, Dennis Farina and Brad Pitt to star. Once again using fast-paced action, witty dialogue and unique forms of violence, Ritchie scored his first genuine box office hit, though some critics complained about the lack of difference between "Snatch" and his previous effort.

With Ritchie married to Madonna, talk centered on when their inevitable onscreen collaboration would arrive. The celebrated couple started with baby steps, teaming up for the stylish but controversial music video for her hit song "What It Feels Like for a Girl," which MTV and many other stations refused to air because it depicted Madonna engaging in numerous forms of over-the-top violence, like tasering a man for his ATM money, blowing up a gas station and running someone down with a car. The two reteamed for the fast-paced short film "Star" (2001), which was part of an eight-episode series of high-profile vignettes for BMW. The married duo finally hit the big screen together the following year when Ritchie directed his wife in the romantic comedy "Swept Away" (2002), a remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 Italian film of the same title, in which Madonna plays a spoiled rich woman marooned on a deserted island with a spirited sailor (Adriano Gainnini). The movie was a miserable failure, landing on many reviewers' "worst films of all time" lists and earning five Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Actress, Worst Director and Worst Picture. It was hardly the kind of reception Ritchie was used to. In fact, his professional association with his wife would reduce his "cool" quotient drastically amongst the same cinephiles who had embraced his pre-"Swept Away" projects. Ritchie was unable to shake off the bad vibes after directing his next film, "Revolver" (2005), a return to gangland with its story of a cocky Vegas gambler. Because Ritchie layered the film with numerous hidden spiritual, mystical and psychological references, even star Jason Statham had to watch the film several times until he felt he finally got it.

For three years after "Revolver," Ritchie kept a lower profile, finding himself in the news more for his wife's goings-on than for his own accomplishments. Ritchie directed his third London gangster movie, "Rocknrolla" (2008). The film, which starred Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton and Tom Wilkinson, returned to the spirit of "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock" with its inventive take on real estate supplementing drugs as the trade of choice for London's criminal underworld. Meanwhile, his personal life took a plunge when his marriage to Madonna was dissolved in London by decree nisi and later ended in divorce in December 2008. Back to directing, Ritchie helmed the hit "Sherlock Holmes" (2009), a flashy and stylistic look at the famed brilliant detective (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his trusted ally, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), which was followed by the sequel "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (2011). Ritchie returned four years later with "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." (2015), a film based on the hit 1960s TV spy series. Ritchie took on his next high-profile directing role with "Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur" (2016), starring Charlie Hunnam in the title role.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

5.
6.
  RocknRolla (2008)
7.
  Revolver (2007)
8.
  Swept Away (2002) Director
9.
  Snatch (2000) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

2000:
Made his second feature, "Snatch," starring much of the "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" cast plus Brad Pitt.
2001:
Helmed Madonna's music video for "What It Feels Like for a Girl"
2001:
Directed "Star," one of five short film advertisements for BMW shown on the Internet at bmwfilms.com; Madonna had featured role
2002:
Directed Madonna in "Swept Away," a remake of the 1974 film by Lina Wertmueller
2003:
Developed the hidden camera show "Swag," which aired on Britain┬┐s Channel 5
2005:
Helmed the Vegas-themed heist film "Revolver"
2007:
Developed the concept for the 10-issue limited series comic book <i>The Gamekeeper</i> (Virgin Comics)
2008:
Directed (also produced and scripted) the Russian mob drama "RocknRolla" starring Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton and Tom Wilkinson
2011:
Helmed the sequel "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows"; Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law reprised roles
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Stanbridge Earls School: -
Sibford School: -

Notes

About getting "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" made: "Financing was extremely difficult. We very nearly gave up, because we got the money pulled from us four days before shooting, and that was a blow I was hardly capable of bearing. Especially after all the other blows that we'd had running up to that period. So we got left with 200-grand's worth of debts and everyone hated us, you know, and we couldn't show our faces in public for a month. We got shat on from a great height, and consequently all the people who'd been working for us out of the goodness of their hearts and without payment got shat on as well. But we finally got it together." --Guy Ritchie to Neon, January 1999.

"There's nothing I enjoy more than a good story about a villain; people on the wrong side of the law are highly entertaining. Maybe it's because they're not conforming; they're doing what we're all sensibly scared to do. The whole job of intimidation is when to be funny and when not. These guys are actors; they know how to put on a show." --Ritchie quoted in Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1999.

"I think English filmmaking has always been a bit up its own ass. It traditionally has just lacked entertainment. Apart from people like David Lean, I think English filmmaking has always been better-suited for the TV rather than the cinema--and I wanted to spice things up a bit." --Guy Ritchie to Juan Morales in Detour, March 1999.

"I wanted to make a film that would appeal to the blue-collar man. In London we call it 'the man on the terraces', for the cheap row of seats at a football game. I worked on building sites and found their humor electrically sharp.

"The established filmmakers patronize these guys, but they're very sophisticated in their humor. So I wanted to make something complicated that would stand up to scrutiny but appeal to the working man.

"I know a lot of villains and policemen who liked it, and then it crossed over to the intelligentsia." --Ritchie to Stephen Schaefer in Boston Herald, March 14, 1999.

On the press' coverage of him: "The only thing that really pisses me off is that so much of this stuff is lazy. There was no journalism involved. Everyone just copied everyone else. Once they'd done the 'Cockney Toff' angle, they got stuck. There was nowhere else for them to go. And people copy each other's mistakes. They just go on and on uncorrected. I mean, I've never claimed that I 'lived in the East End for 30 years'. Before you know it, there's a profile of your whole life that is largely fictional. I'm not losing any sleep over it one way or the other." --Ritchie to Neil Norman in London's Evening Standard, May 22, 2000.

"I'd like to say I don't care what critics think, but they insidiously manage to work their way into your psyche..."-Ritchie Movieline October 2002

"It made communication on the set that much more efficient because you'd have dinner with her and you could talk about something ... then you wake up in the morning and you can talk and before you knew it when you go on the set you knew exactly what you were doing. It's all about communication, filmmaking ..." -Ritchie on working with his wife, Madonna

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Rebecca Green. Born c. 1974; daughter of British tycoon Michael Green; her parents reportedly financed "The Hard Case", his short film that became his calling card for "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels".
wife:
Madonna. Singer, actor. Involved from c. 1999; met through Trudie Styler, wife of pop star Sting and an executive producer on "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels"; previously married to actor Sean Penn; has daughter with former beau Carlos Leon; mother of Ritchie's son Rocco; married on December 22, 2000 in Scotland.

Family close complete family listing

father:
John Ritchie. Advertising executive. Born c. 1929; responsible for the legendary commercials for Hamlet cigars; divorced from Ritchie's mother when Ritchie was five.
mother:
Amber. Model. Divorced Ritchie's father when Ritchie was five; married Sir Michael Leighton.
step-father:
Michael Leighton. 11th holder of a 300-year-old baronetcy; divorced from Ritchie's mother by the time Ritchie was 12.
step-mother:
Shireen Ritchie. Charity worker.
sister:
Tabitha Ritchie. Runs a dance centre in Fulham.
son:
Rocco Ritchie. Born on August 11, 2000; mother, Madonna.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute