TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)
|Also Known As:||Stephen John Fry||Died:|
|Born:||August 24, 1957||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||London, England, GB||Profession:||actor, playwright, novelist|
Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY
Although his comic persona was often smug, occasionally overbearing and sometimes even mannered, the multi-talented Stephen Fry exuded an easy charm and rapier wit while successfully mining numerous mediums â¿¿ film, television, theatre, novels and even Twitter. Fry first made a name for himself alongside fellow Cambridge chum Hugh Laurie on popular British comedies like "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" (BBC2/BBC1, 1989-1995), while also co-starring opposite Rowan Atkinson in the "Blackadder" series. Following another hit with Laurie, "Jeeves & Wooster" (BBC, 1990-93), Fry became a frequent presence on films in both his native England and in America, including an acclaimed portrayal of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde in "Wilde" (1997). He next logged an appearance in "A Civil Action" (1998) before delivering a finely tuned comic turn in Robert Altmanâ¿¿s "Gosford Park" (2001). After making his directorial debut with the well-received seriocomedy "Bright Young Things" (2003), Fry was the subject of the documentary "Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive" (2006), which detailed his lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder, while garnering praise for his hit series "Stephen Fry in America" (BBC1,...
Although his comic persona was often smug, occasionally overbearing and sometimes even mannered, the multi-talented Stephen Fry exuded an easy charm and rapier wit while successfully mining numerous mediums â¿¿ film, television, theatre, novels and even Twitter. Fry first made a name for himself alongside fellow Cambridge chum Hugh Laurie on popular British comedies like "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" (BBC2/BBC1, 1989-1995), while also co-starring opposite Rowan Atkinson in the "Blackadder" series. Following another hit with Laurie, "Jeeves & Wooster" (BBC, 1990-93), Fry became a frequent presence on films in both his native England and in America, including an acclaimed portrayal of Irish playwright Oscar Wilde in "Wilde" (1997). He next logged an appearance in "A Civil Action" (1998) before delivering a finely tuned comic turn in Robert Altmanâ¿¿s "Gosford Park" (2001). After making his directorial debut with the well-received seriocomedy "Bright Young Things" (2003), Fry was the subject of the documentary "Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive" (2006), which detailed his lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder, while garnering praise for his hit series "Stephen Fry in America" (BBC1, 2008). By the time he was seen in "Alice in Wonderland" (2010) and "Sherlock Holmes 2" (2011), there was no doubt that the multifaceted Fry had become an audience favorite on both sides of the Atlantic.
Born on Aug. 24, 1957 in Hampsted, London, England, Fry was raised by his father, Alan, a physicist and inventor, and his mother, Marianne, a homemaker. Though a curious child who constantly sought knowledge â¿¿ he reportedly memorized the Guinness Book of World Records â¿¿ his education proved troublesome. Over the course of his youth, Fry was expelled from several boarding schools, including Uppingham School in Rutland and Paston School in Norfolk. Having been diagnosed as dyslexic while acknowledging his homosexuality at an early age, Fryâ¿¿s troubled academic life was compounded by clashes with his father at home, leading to a suicide attempt at age 16 and a scrape with the law the following year. When he was 17, Fry ran away from home and supported himself with a credit card stolen from a family friend. Eventually he was caught and jailed for a few months before receiving probation. According to Fry, the experience forced him to get serious about his education. With renewed purpose he buckled down with his studies and earned a scholarship to Cambridge, where he began coming into his own as an actor and writer. As a member of the famed Footlights Theater Group at Cambridge, he debuted as a playwright with "Latin" (1980) while meeting future collaborators Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie.
After graduation, Fry, Thompson, Laurie and Robbie Coltrane joined the short-lived sketch comedy series "Alfresco" (ITV, 1983-84). Two years later, he garnered acclaim and earned millions for adapting the book of the musical "Me and My Girl," which teamed Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson in London. When the show transferred to Broadway, only Lindsay was allowed to perform, but it proved to be one of the hits of the 1986-87 season and earned Fry a Tony nomination for his script. Back on the screen, he went on to portray the sniveling Lord Melchett, the bitter enemy of Rowan Atkinsonâ¿¿s Lord Blackadder, in "Blackadder II" (BBC, 1986), a role he reprised as General Melchett in the final segments of "Blackadder Goes Forth" (BBC, 1989). Sandwiched between were three seasons of "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" (BBC2/BBC1, 1989-1995), a sketch show featuring complicated wordplay and irreverent humor a la "Monty Python" that Fry co-wrote with co-star Hugh Laurie. The busy performer also managed to squeeze in writing a column for The Daily Telegraph, while him and Laurie launched a second successful comedy, "Jeeves & Wooster" (BBC, 1990-93), adapted from the P.G. Wodehouse stories.
In features, Fry actually began his career as a screenwriter contributing to "Gossip" (1983) before moving in front of the cameras to turn in insightful bits in "The Good Father" (1986) and "A Handful of Dust" (1988). Working with several of his Cambridge colleagues, he was the host of a reunion of college chums in Kenneth Branagh's comedy-drama "Peter's Friends" (1992), while in "I.Q." (1994) Fry was cast as Meg Ryan's conniving psychologist fiancÃ©. Having been told for much of his life that he had more than a passing resemblance to Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, Fry finally had his chance to portray the character in an episode of the short-lived American series, "Ned Blessing: The Story of My Life and Times" (CBS, 1993). Though there was much anticipation when he agreed to co-star in Simon Gray's West End drama "Cell Mates" (1995), the actor caused quite a stir after apparently quitting the production after three days once it opened to poor reviews. Although he was replaced by Simon Ward, the producers found the resulting negative publicity too difficult to overcome and the show shut down 10 weeks ahead of schedule. Fry's disappearance sparked headlines, with some fearing the actor was dead. Fry was found in Europe, copped to suffering a nervous breakdown as a result of bipolar disorder and underwent psychiatric counseling. He also agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to the producers in an out-of-court settlement.
Following "Cold Comfort Farm" (1995), in which he played an odd-ball pursuing Kate Beckinsale, Fry was back on the mend as the Judge in Terry Jonesâ¿¿ adaptation of "The Wind in the Willows" (1996). Meanwhile, he reprised what many touted as the role he was born to play for the big screen take on "Wilde" (1997), which allowed the actor to deliver an award-worthy impersonation of the Irish playwright, only to be done in by a slow-moving script that attempted to stuff too many details into a two-hour movie. After playing a witty barrister in the otherwise stuffy British historical drama, "The Tichborne Claimant" (1998), Fry returned to supporting turns in American studio films as an expert witness called by lawyer John Travolta in "A Civil Action" (1998). Fry followed up with a supporting turn in "Whatever Happened to Harold Smith?" (1999) before playing the Duke of Wellington in the lavish, internationally cast comedy "Sabotage!" (2000). He had one of his best performances in years as a police inspector called to a countryside manor to investigate a murder in Robert Altmanâ¿¿s upstairs-downstairs satire, "Gosford Park" (2001).
After appearing in the flatulence-laced childrenâ¿¿s comedy "Thunderpants" (2002), Fry made his directorial debut with "Bright Young Things" (2003), a sophisticated seriocomedy set in the 1930s that follows the romantic entanglements of a group of young talented aristocratic bohemians. He next had a supporting role as British clairvoyant and astrologer Maurice Woodruff in the acclaimed television biopic "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (HBO, 2004), starring Geoffrey Rush as the troubled, but brilliantly funny Sellers. Fry then narrated the disappointing adaptation of Douglas Adamsâ¿¿ cult sci-fi comedy, "The Hitchhikerâ¿¿s Guide to the Galaxy" (2005), before showing up on an episode of "Extras" (BBC2/HBO, 2005-07) to take a few potshots at Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais), and landing a supporting role as homosexual game show host in the futuristic dystopian thriller, "V is for Vendetta" (2006), starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. Fry was next the subject of the Emmy Award-winning documentary, "Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive" (2006), which explored his struggle â¿¿ and the struggles of other celebrities â¿¿ with bipolar disorder.
Turning to more dramatic fare, Fry co-starred in the disturbing courtroom drama, "Eichmann" (2007), which chronicled the trial and execution of Adolf Eichmann (Thomas Kretschmann), one of the architects of Adolf Hitlerâ¿¿s "Final Solution." Back on television, Fry served as host of "Stephen Fry in America" (BBC One, 2008), where he explored the country he was almost born in, traveling through all 50 states in a London cab. Featuring run-ins with celebrities like Morgan Freeman and billionaire Ted Turner, Fryâ¿¿s six-part documentary series proved to be a huge ratings earner for the BBC. Returning to the big screen, Fry voiced the Cheshire Cat in Tim Burtonâ¿¿s "Alice in Wonderland" (2010), before taking a stab at stand-up comedy with a performance at The Royal Albert Hall in September 2010. Having already been an established published author with works novels like The Liar (1991), The Hippopotamus (1994) and Making History (1998), as well as a memoir Moab is My Washpot (1997), Fry became a powerful wielder of social media with his well-followed Twitter account, where he generated a huge amount of traffic with his pithy observations. By the end of 2010, Fry began rivaling Ashton Kutcher with over two million followers. Fry was next cast as the incredibly gifted, but unambitious Mycroft Holmes in the sequel "Sherlock Holmes 2" (2011), starring Robert Downey, Jr. as the famed detective and Jude Law as Dr. Watson.
Filmographyclose complete filmography
CAST: (feature film)
Milestones close milestones
Fry and Laurie have been doing British TV commercials for some years, including spots for Alliance & Leicester (a building society) and Heineken.
His 1995 disappearance inspired Brazilian musician Zeca Baleiro to record "Por Onde Andara Stephen Fry?/Where Is Stephen Fry?" which became a hit in Brazil.
"At home, Stephen was cheerful, affectionate, kind, bouncy and full of more insatiable curiosity than an elephant's child. He soaked up information, then demanded more." --Marianne Fry, the actor's mother, quoted by The Daily Telegraph, September 20, 1997.
"It was easy enough for a Jewish nancy boy like me to draw solace from Wilde the outcast, Wilde the secual renegade, Wilde the Irishman, Wilde the mocker and baiter of the imperial values that still hung in the air above the parade ground like Crimean cannon smoke. Had I, by the tiniest genetic alteration, been good at rugby and stirred by girls, would I then have been able to see the real point of Wilde? Or would I, like so many of my countrymen, have thought of him (if at all) as not much more than a brittle, wueeny wag with crimped hair, a possible source of inspiration when trawling the dictionary of quotations for a best man's speech, but of no more meaning and no more importance ... ." --Fry writing on playing Oscar Wilde in The New Yorker, June 16, 1997.
"If you are British, voiced like an old wireless set, approaching 40 at dangerous speed, well over six feet in height, amply padded to the point of minor obesity and endowed with a complexion not unlike that of freshly applied window putty, there are few leading roles for which you are suited." --Stephen Fry, c. 1996
" ... like most actors and comedians, I'm far more excited to meet sportsmen and pop stars than I am by people in my own profession. Sportsmen are overjoyed to meet a comedian. I imagine politicians would rather meet Jim Carrey than they would the President of France, because that's just another fucking politician." --Fry quoted in Neon, November 1997.
"I just happen to love New York. There's a kind of fabulous, energetic, uncaring quality about it. You walk fast; you don't have to stop and say stupid, polite things all the time. It's so much bigger and more impersonal than any other city I've been to, but you feel like you belong to it within a couple of days. It's like a machine; I think of huge iron rivets and noise." --Stephen Fry in Time Out New York, April 30-May 7, 1998.
On the importance of laughter: "It's a uniting force, a moment of recognition which bonds you closer to the person next to you. Comedy doesn't have to plan to change the world; it's its own excuse." --Fry quoted in a 1996 interview.
"It's a very odd thing. People will always assume the opinion of a character in a book is the opinion of the writer--and it is rarely so." --Fry responding to a query about the similarities between himself and his characters, in The Glasgow University Guardian, December 11, 1996.
"I actually fear a life without wobbles. If a mid-life crisis means anything, it means you're on a tightrope and look down and just suddenly go, 'Whoa.' I saw my life ahead of me; I'd do a movie, write a book or screenplay and then do a play. But I'd done them all, and they hadn't brought me complete happiness. Of course, there's no reason they should. What I hadn't realized was that fulfillment lies elsewhere. It's not in work; it's in personal happiness. I realized I was a bit lonely. I neede a balance." --Fry commenting on his 1995 disappearance in W, May 1998.
"For a gay man, I'm the most laddish person I know. I love darts, poker, snooker. I like them more than most straight men I know." --Fry quoted in W, May 1998.
"Stephen Fry has made a comic career out of English snobbery and embarrassment--in his clever affable best-selling novels ... and in his acting career, in which he has played his fair share of awkward, gormless, stiff-upper-lipped tyoes, some of whom have sat behind wooden desks, talking nonsense, in a way that has made it easy to think of Fry as the heir to one of his great heroes, John Cleese." --Ian Parker writing in The New York Times Magazine, May 3, 1998.
Bibliography close complete biography
Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.Click here to contribute