Roger Spottiswoode



Birth Place
England, GB
January 05, 1945


A distinguished writer of plays, novels, short stories, non-fiction, and screenplays, Ronald Harwood earned a reputation for intelligent literary adaptations that often drew from his own works. Though he had a long and fruitful career, Harwood came to prominence late in life by winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Roman Polanski's extraordinary film, "The Pianist" (2002), wh...

Family & Companions

Holly Palance
Screenwriter, actor. Filed for divorce in 1998; born in 1950; daughter of actor Jack Palance; acted in husband's "The Best of Times" (1986).


A distinguished writer of plays, novels, short stories, non-fiction, and screenplays, Ronald Harwood earned a reputation for intelligent literary adaptations that often drew from his own works. Though he had a long and fruitful career, Harwood came to prominence late in life by winning the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Roman Polanski's extraordinary film, "The Pianist" (2002), which depicted Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman's survival in Nazi occupied Warsaw. Previously he earned Academy attention with the adaptation of his own play, "The Dresser" (1983), which drew upon his own experiences as a personal assistant to aging actor Sir Donald Wolfit in the 1950s. Harwood later brought recognition to the struggle of apartheid with his biopic on "Mandela" (HBO, 1987) and later with his adaptation of "Cry, the Beloved Country" (1995). After "The Pianist," he delivered notable adaptations of W. Somerset Maugham's "Being Julia" (2003) and Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist" (2005), before writing an extraordinary adaptation of debilitated editor Jean Dominique-Bauby's memoir, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007). While most writers saw their best work earlier in life, Harwood improved exponentially with age on his way to becoming one of the literary world's most celebrated and prolific scribes.

Born Ronald Horwitz on Nov. 9, 1934 in Cape Town, South Africa, Harwood was raised by his father, Isaac Horwitz, and his mother, Isobel. As a white South African, he did not suffer directly the unfairness of the racist apartheid state, but the injustice of racial discrimination nevertheless hit home with the advent of World War II due to his Jewish heritage. As a boy, Harwood became intensely aware of his outsider status while watching newsreel footage of the Nazi atrocities at Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz death camps. The haunting images of bulldozers shifting mounds of corpses into mass graves had a profound impact upon him and his future creative life as a writer. At the age of 17, Harwood moved to England to pursue a career as an actor and briefly attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, only to drop out after a year when his father died and his mother could no longer pay tuition. To make ends meet, Harwood landed a job as a dresser to famed Shakespearean actor, Sir Donald Wolfit, leading to travels in and around England as Wolfit's backstage jack-of-all-trades, where he learned a great deal about writing and the theater.

After receiving a typewriter as a birthday gift from his father-in-law in 1961, Harwood commenced his writing career by publishing his first novel, All the Same Shadows, drafting the screenplay for his first film "Private Potter" (1962) starring Tom Courtenay, and writing his first play "March Hares" (1964). Also at the time, he began writing for the small screen with the drama "The Barber of Stamford Hill" (ITV, 1962), and later went on to write the script for "A High Wind in Jamaica" (1965), a well-regarded pirate drama starring Anthony Quinn and James Coburn, and the British comedy "Diamonds for Breakfast" (1968). A multi-faceted writer, Harwood continued writing novels while churning out scripts and plays, publishing George Washington September Sir! (1961), The Guilt Merchants (1963) and The Girl in Melanie Klein (1969) throughout the decade. In the 1970s, Harwood wrote the scripts for the Russian prison movie "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" (1971) and the World War II drama "Operation Daybreak" (1975), while appearing as a radio host of the magazine show "Kaleidoscope" (1973) and on screen as the host of the book series "Read All About It" (BBC, 1978-79).

While finding success in film, Harwood continued to prove his versatility as an author and playwright, penning plays like "The Good Companions" (1974), "The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold" (1977) and "A Family" (1978), while writing novels such as Articles of Faith (1973) and César and Augusta (1978). After the TV biopic "Evita Peron" (NBC, 1981), and several episodes of the TV series, "Tales of the Unexpected" (ITV, 1979-1988), based on the stories of Roald Dahl, Harwood wrote "The Dresser" (1981), a stage play about a young personal assistant to an aging performer that drew upon his experiences working for Sir Donald Wolfit. The play was adapted two years later into the acclaimed film of the same name, starring friend Tom Courtenary as the assistant and Albert Finney as an aging star named Sir. The well-performed adaptation of his play earned five Academy Awards nomination, including one for Hardwood for Best Adapted Screenplay. From there, he wrote the script for the little-known horror thriller, "The Doctor and the Devils" (1985), and churned out plays like "The Deliberate Death of a Polish Priest" (1985), "J.J. Farr" (1987) and "Another Time" (1989).

Returning to television, Harwood wrote one of HBO's first original films, "Mandela" (1987), a biopic about South Africa's Nelson Mandela starring Danny Glover. The film was credited as helping bring the scourge of apartheid to worldwide attention. He focused on the stage for several years with "Reflected Glory" (1992), "Poison Pen" (1993) and "Taking Sides" (1995), about controversial German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. Harwood then wrote the script for "The Browning Version" (1994), which starred Albert Finney as a career teacher put out to pasture due to a heart condition. He next returned to his native South Africa to adapt the novel for "Cry, the Beloved Country" (1995), an apartheid-set drama about a minister (James Earl Jones) from a poverty-stricken farming town who goes to Johannesberg to seek out his son, only to encounter the harsh life of the big city while joining forces with a white wealthy landowner (Richard Harris) suffering the loss of his own son. In the new millennium, Harwood was called upon to adapt his play "Taking Sides" (2001), a drama that starred Stellan Skarsgard as Furtwängler, whose career flourished in Nazi Germany following his choice to stay instead of leave.

Because of his fascination with Nazi Germany and his own Jewish heritage, Harwood was hired by Roman Polanski to adapt the memoirs of Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, who survived living in Nazi-occupied Poland throughout the war, into the acclaimed drama "The Pianist" (2002). A powerful film anchored by Adrien Brody's Oscar-winning performance as Szpilman, "The Pianist" was a fresh take on a well-worn subject that riveted both audiences and critics, and won multiple Academy Awards, including one for Harwood for Best Adapted Screenplay. His win was a Hollywood boon, as he went on to write the World War II thriller "The Statement" (2003), starring Michael Caine, and to adapt the W. Somerset Maugham novel "Being Julia" (2003) into a star vehicle for eventual Best Actress nominee Annette Bening. He again teamed with Polanski to adapt the Charles Dickens novel "Oliver Twist" (2005) and followed up with an adaptation of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera" (2007), directed by Mike Newell and starring Javier Bardem. Both films received mixed reviews and underperformed at the box-office.

Harwood next received rave notices for his adaptation of Jean Dominique-Bauby's memoir, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" (2007), which cemented his reputation as a writer of singular technique and taste. Bauby's memoir was written following the former Elle editor's catastrophic stroke that left him completely mute and paralyzed with locked-in syndrome. His only movement was blinking his left eyelid, which he did to spell out words to an assistant who painstakingly dictated the book. Harwood's choice to narrate the film from Bauby's point of view before and after the stroke was a daring one, and made for a compelling film directed by artist Julian Schnabel. For his work, Harwood was honored with several award nominations, including a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. From there, he wrote the successful, but underwhelming historical epic "Australia" (2008) for director Baz Luhrmann, which showcased Nicole Kidman as an English aristocrat who falls for a rough-and-tumble cattle driver (Hugh Jackman). Returning to adaptations of his own work, Harwood wrote the script for "The Quartet" (2012), a British comedy-drama about a group of retired opera singers who struggle to put on a concert to celebrate Verdi's birthday. The film starred Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly as the titular quartet, and marked the directing debut of Dustin Hoffman.

By Shawn Dwyer



Director (Feature Film)

The Beach House (2018)
A Street Cat Named Bob (2016)
The Journey Home (2014)
Shake Hands with the Devil (2008)
The Children of Huang Shi (2008)
Ripley Under Ground (2005)
Spinning Boris (2004)
Ice Bound (2003)
The Matthew Shepard Story (2002)
The 6th Day (2000)
Noriega: God's Favorite (2000)
Murder Live (1997)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Mesmer (1994)
And the Band Played On (1993)
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992)
Air America (1990)
Turner & Hooch (1989)
Third Degree Burn (1989)
Shoot To Kill (1988)
The Last Innocent Man (1987)
The Best Of Times (1986)
Under Fire (1983)
The Pursuit Of D.B. Cooper (1981)
Terror Train (1980)

Writer (Feature Film)

Another 48 Hrs. (1990)
Characters As Source Material
48 Hrs. (1982)

Producer (Feature Film)

Jack and Jill vs. the World (2008)
Noriega: God's Favorite (2000)
Executive Producer
Baby ... Secret Of The Lost Legend (1985)
Executive Producer
Who'll Stop The Rain? (1978)
Associate Producer

Editing (Feature Film)

Hard Times (1975)
The Gambler (1974)
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)

Director (Special)

Time Flies When You're Alive (1989)

Cast (Special)

The Secrets of 007: The James Bond Files (1997)

Writer (Special)

Turner and Hooch (1990)
From Film ("Turner And Hooch")

Special Thanks (Special)

Turner and Hooch (1990)
From Film ("Turner And Hooch")

Life Events


Worked as editing trainee on film "Georgy Girl" which led to career as editor of TV commercials and documentaries


First film as editor, "Straw Dogs"; would also edit Sam Peckinpah's "The Getaway" (1972) and "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid" (1973)


First association with director Karel Reisz as editor of "The Gambler"


Edited Walter Hill's "Hard Times"


Left editing to serve as asociate producer and second unit director on Reisz's "Who'll Stop the Rain"; first association with actor Richard Masur


Directorial debut, "Terror Train"


First collaboration with screenwriter Ron Shelton on "The Pursuit of D B Cooper"


Screenwriting debut (with Hill and Larry Gross), "48 Hrs."


Reteamed with Shelton and "48 Hrs." star Nick Nolte for first-rate political thriller "Under Fire"; first time directing Masur


Third and last film (to date) with Shelton, "The Best of Times"


Executive producer, "Baby: The Secret of the Lost Legend"


HBO movie "The Last Innocent Man" reunited him with Ed Harris from "Under Fire"


Directed slick but highly improbable "Shoot to Kill"; Masur also in cast


Second HBO movie, "Third Degree Burn", reunited him with Treat Williams ("The Pursuit of D B Cooper") and Mazur


Helmed the critically-acclaimed, Emmy-winning HBO movie "And the Band Played On"; Mazur part of cast


Co-directed (with Koreyoshi Hurahara) the Showtime miniseries "Hiroshima"; Masur again a cast member


Helmed "Tomorrow Never Dies" installment of the James Bond series


Directed NBC movie "Murder Live!", about a man who holds a talk show's host, crew and audience captive


Helmed the Arnold Schwarzenneger vehicle "The 6th Day"


Directed the NBC TV-movie "The Matthew Shepard Story"


Directed "Shake Hands with the Devil"


Directed "The Journey Home"


Movie Clip

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) -- (Movie Clip) Get Your Man Out Of There Just the beginning of the well-received nearly ten-minute action-open, no Pierce Brosnan as 007 but his colleagues, Colin Salmon as Robinson, Judi Dench as “M,” Geoffrey Palmer as Admiral Roebuck, and Ricky Jay seen as the master war-criminal Gupta, in the 19th James Bond feature, Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) -- (Movie Clip) Queen And Country, James The admiral (Geoffrey Palmer) and the defence minister (Julian Fellowes, best known now as the creator of Downton Abbey) tangle with M (Judi Dench, supported by her chief of staff, Colin Salmon) about the sinking of a British warship, blamed on China but actually staged by the evil media baron Carver, when Bond (Pierce Brosnan) arrives with still-worse (also contrived) news, and Moneypenny (Samantha Bond) attends as the mission is arranged, in Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) -- (Movie Clip) There's No News Like Bad News Götz Otto as as Stamper reports, through Ricky Jay as techno-terrorist Gupta, to the just-introduced German-based English media impresario Carver, on the successful sinking of a British warship, blaming the Chinese, and slaughtering the survivors, staged for the launch of his worldwide news network, in the 19th James Bond feature, Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997, starring Pierce Brosnan.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) -- (Movie Clip) I Didn't Realize You Knew Each Other Now in Hamburg, posing as a banker but actually there to investigate global terror instigated by Carver (Jonathan Pryce) for the launch of his global news network, Bond (Pierce Brosnan) makes contact with Carver’s wife Paris (Teri Hatcher), his ex-lover, leading to smoldering conflict, Michelle Yeoh as mysterious Wai-Lin, in Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) -- (Movie Clip) They'll Print Anything These Days Having penetrated the Hamburg headquarters of an evil media empire, wielding a souped-up Ericsson phone provided by “Q,” Bond (Pierce Brosnan) gets into the safe of the chief “techno-terrorist,” detects trouble, and encounters Michelle Yeoh, who’s been posing as a Chinese journalist, in his vigorous escape, in Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997.
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973) -- (Movie Clip) This Town Has Got No Hat Size James Coburn (1st title character) is looking for Billy and comes to the town where Slim Pickens, we eventually realize, is the downtrodden sheriff, Katy Jurado his wife, and his prisoner roams mostly free, motivation running low, in Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, 1973.
Under Fire (1983) -- (Movie Clip) Smartest Guys In The World Following director Roger Spottiswoode’s action credit sequence, combat cameraman Russell Price (Nick Nolte) in Chad, 1979, hooks up with American mercenary pal Oates (Ed Harris), who updates him on revolutionary happenings around the world, in Under Fire, 1983.
Under Fire (1983) -- (Movie Clip) Third World Elevators Covering the war in Chad, 1979, we meet radio correspondent Claire Stryder (Joanna Cassidy) and TV news veteran Grazier (Gene Hackman), who’s enjoying a sendoff party, which creates issues for them as a couple, photographer pal Price (Nick Nolte) joining, early in Roger Spottiswoode’s Under Fire, 1983.
Under Fire (1983) -- (Movie Clip) I'm Tired Of Nicaragua Radio reporter Claire (Joanna Cassidy) returns to Managua where her significant other Alex (Gene Hackman) informs her that he’s going home for the network anchor gig, not mentioning his correct supposition that she’s become involved with their mutual friend, photographer Price (Nick Nolte), an honorable parting, in Under Fire, 1983.



Raymond Spottiwoode
Film theoretician. Died in 1970.


Holly Palance
Screenwriter, actor. Filed for divorce in 1998; born in 1950; daughter of actor Jack Palance; acted in husband's "The Best of Times" (1986).