Roger Deakins


Director Of Photography

About

Also Known As
Roger A. Deakins
Birth Place
Devon, England, GB
Born
May 24, 1949

Biography

After starting out his career in documentaries, Roger Deakins became one of the few elite cinematographers of his generation, thanks in large part to his routine collaborations with filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. Ever since his Oscar-nominated camerawork on "Barton Fink" (1991), Deakins filmed some of the most remarkable images recorded on celluloid. Whether conveying the sweeping grand...

Notes

"['Kundun'] really isn't an epic; it's more of an intimate look at the life of an extraordinary person. During the prep period, Marty [director Martin Scorsese] and I talked about 'The Last Emperor' a bit, and how it was so vast and overpowering. I hope that our film is somehow more naturalistic and earthy. The story is really about the child, and it's seen primarily from his point of view. We generally didn't show much that he didn't experience firsthand. . . . As the Dalai Lama grows older, he becomes more aware of the political situation around him." --Roger Deakins quoted in AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER, February 1998

Biography

After starting out his career in documentaries, Roger Deakins became one of the few elite cinematographers of his generation, thanks in large part to his routine collaborations with filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. Ever since his Oscar-nominated camerawork on "Barton Fink" (1991), Deakins filmed some of the most remarkable images recorded on celluloid. Whether conveying the sweeping grandeur of hope taking flight from prison walls in "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994), capturing the isolated, brittle snowscape of "Fargo" (1996), or putting on display the vibrant spirituality of Tibet in "Kundun" (1997), Deakins created a visual style visual style that turned him into a cinematographer sought after by the top directors in the business, while also earning a slew of Academy Award nominations. His work was awarded numerous times, mostly for his stunning camerawork on Coen Brothers films such as "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001), "No Country for Old Men" (2007) and "True Grit" (2010). He did, of course, branch out beyond the Coen Brothers universe where he earned further acclaim, most notably with "A Beautiful Mind" (2001), "House of Sand and Fog" (2003), "In the Valley of Elah" (2007), "The Reader" (2008) and "Skyfall" (2012). Because of his achievements and extraordinary work for over three decades, Deakins had earned the reputation as one of Hollywood's top cinematographers of all time.

Born on May 24, 1949 in Torquay, Devon, England, Deakins became interested in visual arts when he discovered painting as a youngster. He later studied graphic design at the Bath School of Art and Design, where he developed a love for still photography. After being asked to shoot a documentary in his hometown, Deakins left Bath to attend the National Film and Television School outside London. Once he had finished school, Deakins began working as a cinematographer on documentaries, often entering dangerous situations that ultimately yielded engaging cinema. For his first official credit - a documentary called "Around the World with Ridgeway" - Deakins spent nine months on the high seas capturing the tensions of sailboat crews in a 'round-the-world yacht race. Based on his effective camerawork, Deakins was hired to film documentaries in Africa, including "Zimbabwe," a searing look at their history of genocide, and "Eritrea - Behind Enemy Lines," which focused on the conflict between the Sudan and Ethiopia.

Turning his attention back on his native land, Deakins shot "Welcome to Britain" (1976), an examination of England's strange policy of issuing passports to citizens of former colonies, only to deny them entry to the mainland. One of his first forays into fictional storytelling was "Cruel Passion" (1977), an erotic drama based on the Marquis de Sade novel starring former lover of Prince Andrew, Koo Stark. Deakins continued with documentaries, including shooting "Van Morrison in Ireland" (1979) and "Blue Suede Shoes" (1980), a filmed look at the first Great Yarmouth Holiday Camp concert, which featured performances by artists from rock-n-roll's golden era. By the early 1980s, Deakins had left the documentary world for good to focus squarely on feature films. He filmed the short collection "Return to Waterloo" (1983), followed by a period drama about Italian prisoners in Scotland during World War II, "Another Time, Another Place" (1983). Deakins made his first memorable impression with "1984" (1984), a grim and ominous-looking take on George Orwell's famed novel about totalitarian societies.

After shooting lesser features like "Shadey" (1985) and "Defense of the Realm" (1985), Deakins entered the strange and sordid world of late-1970s punk rock with "Sid and Nancy" (1986). He continued making films in his native England, delivering typically solid work on thrillers like "White Mischief" (1987) and "Stormy Monday" (1988). Deakins then crossed the Atlantic for his first American feature, "Mountains of the Moon" (1990), a sweeping epic based on the adventures of Sir Richard Burton (Patrick Bergin) and John Hanning Speke (Iain Glen) during their 19th century quest to find the source of the Nile River. He next provided stunning aerial shots for "Air America" (1990), a comedy-adventure about two American pilots (Mel Gibson and Robert Downey, Jr.) flying covert missions for the CIA's private airline during the last days of the Vietnam War. But it was his work on "Barton Fink" (1991) - his first of many collaborations with Joel and Ethan Coen - that propelled Deakins into the upper echelon of cinematographers. In this comedic thriller about a playwright (John Turturro) struggling with writer's block while penning his first movie, Deakins pulled all the stops in creating a gauzy look to 1940s Hollywood, or the dark, hellish confines of a seedy hotel room, while adding loopy angles and drastic camera movements to the mix. The result was a memorably stylish film that earned Deakins numerous critics' awards, including one from the National Society of Film Critics for Best Cinematography. Deakins next worked with famed indie director John Sayles on the engaging character study, "Passion Fish" (1992), then took a step deeper into Hollywood waters with the thriller "Thunderheart" (1992) and the lush children's fantasy "The Secret Garden" (1993).

If Deakins had remained an unknown commodity to the industry, then he certainly became one thanks to his next film, "The Shawshank Redemption" (1994). His tight, confining imagery depicting life inside a maximum security prison captured fully the futility of hope, until a wrongly accused murderer (Tim Robbins) breaks free from the prison walls and soars free. Deakins' stunning camerawork earned him several critics and society awards, and his first Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography. Now firmly established as a premiere photographer, Deakins went back to work with the Coen Brothers on "The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994), giving this Frank Capra-esque period slapstick comedy an almost gothic, Dickensian look. Returning to the confines of prison, he shot "Dead Man Walking" (1995) for writer-director Tim Robbins, an emotionally gripping drama about a nun (Susan Sarandon) who struggles to find the soul of a murder (Sean Penn) condemned to death.

Deakins renewed his collaboration with the Coen Brothers on their seminal crime thriller, "Fargo" (1996). He masterfully used the bleak, white landscape of northern Minnesota to create an air of haunting isolation that brought to life the desperation of a car salesman (William H. Macy) trying to scam money from his father-in-law (Harve Presnell) by using two thugs (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his own wife (Kristen Rudrud). Both the Coens and the film were widely praised, though Deakins received his share of accolades, including his second Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. Meanwhile, the DP was more and more in demand, especially from some of the biggest names in cinema. After shooting the Gulf War-era thriller "Courage Under Fire" (1996), he worked with director Martin Scorsese on "Kundun" (1997), a stunningly and colorfully photographed look at the trials and tribulations of the 14th Dalai Lamai of Tibet, who was forced into exile in 1959 after a Chinese invasion. For this film, Deakins earned his third Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography.

After filming the action thriller "Under Seige" (1998), a big, dumb Steven Segal film saved by Tommy Lee Jones' deft performance as the heavy, Deakins rejoined the Coen Brothers on their eventual cult hit, "The Big Lebowski" (1998). He deviated to film "The Hurricane" (1999), a biopic on Rueben Carter (Denzel Washington), a former heavyweight champion wrongly imprisoned for murder, and "Anywhere But Here" (1999), a coming-of-age drama about a mother and daughter (Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman) starting a new life in Beverly Hills. Back with the Coen Brothers once again, Deakins earned two more Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography for his sepia-toned, dreamlike imagery on "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000), and the beautiful black-and-white noir look of "The Man Who Wasn't There" (2001), which featured perhaps the most elegiac car crash scene in cinema history.

Despite all the accolades heaped upon his next project, "A Beautiful Mind" (2001), Ron Howard's sappy look at mathematician John Forbes Nash's lifetime battle with schizophrenia, Deakins was left out of the awards-time nomination loop. After filming "Levity" (2003) and the Coens' lesser comedy, "Intolerable Cruelty" (2003), he gave "House of Sand and Fog" (2003) a stark, almost Ingmar Bergman-like tone that helped underscore the desperation of a woman (Jennifer Connelly) fighting to get her house back from an Iranian immigrant (Ben Kingsley) and his family after it was improperly seized. Before teaming back up with the Coens on their mediocre remake "The Ladykillers" (2004), Deakins gave M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" (2004) a rich, haunting feel. He then opened the landscape for "Jarhead" (2005), depicting Iraq during the first Gulf War as a vast desert land alive with burning oil fields.

In 2007, Deakins marked perhaps the most fertile point in his long career of creating stunning and memorable images on film. He first helped writer-director Paul Haggis bring to life the tortured search by a father (Tommy Lee Jones) for his missing son home from Iraq in "In the Valley of Elah" (2007). For "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford" (2007), Deakins beautifully depicted the sweeping landscapes of the Midwestern United States (Canada, actually) in this ominous tale of foreboding - namely, the pending murder of the famed train robber (Brad Pitt) by one of his most trusted gang members (Casey Affleck). Deakins then turned his attention to the stark deserts of west Texas in "No Country For Old Men" (2007), the Coen Brothers' much-lauded adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's terse novel about a down-and-out Vietnam vet (Josh Brolin) running off with $2 million in drug money with a coolheaded psychopath (Javier Bardem) and a world-weary sheriff (Jones) on his trail. For both "Jesse James" and "No Country for Old Men," Deakins earned duel Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography. He earned his eighth Academy Award nod for his camera work on "The Reader" (2008), an honor Deakins shared with fellow cinematographer Chris Menges. It was a busy year for the venerable cinematographer, as Deakins also managed to squeeze in DP duties on director Sam Mendes' "Revolutionary Road" (2008), starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, in addition to "Doubt" (2008), featuring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The following year, he reteamed with Joel and Ethan Coen to lense "A Serious Man" (2009), a drama about a put-upon Jewish academic in 1960s Middle America who lives life as a closeted homosexual. Sticking with the Coens, Deakins filmed their next effort, "True Grit" (2010), the second big screen adaptation of the classic Western novel by Charles Portis. While the 1969 version won movie legend John Wayne his only Oscar, the 2010 film racked up an impressive number of Academy Award nominations, including one for Deakins in the category of Best Achievement in Cinematography. He also served as DP on "The Company Men" (2010), starring Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper as three men laid off from the same corporation in the midst of the Great Recession. The following year, he served as a visual consultant on the animated "Rango" (2011) while performing his usual cinematography duties on Andre Niccol's sci-fi thriller "In Time" (2011), starring Justin Timberlake and Olivia Wilde. After again serving as a visual consultant for the animated "Rise of the Guardians" (2012), Deakins earned his 10th Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography for his exemplary work on "Skyfall" (2012), widely hailed as one of the best James Bond films in years. After shooting the tense thriller "Prisoners" (2013), Deakins scored another Oscar nomination for "Unbroken" (2014), Angelina Jolie's biopic of Olympic star turned World War II POW Louis Zamperini.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

Cinematographer Style (2006)
In Search of Kundun with Martin Scorsese (1998)

Cinematography (Feature Film)

The Goldfinch (2019)
Director Of Photography
1917 (2019)
Director Of Photography
The Goldfinch (2019)
Camera Operator
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Director Of Photography
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Camera Operator
Hail Caesar (2016)
Director Of Photography
Sicario (2015)
Director Of Photography
Unbroken (2014)
Director Of Photography
Prisoners (2013)
Director Of Photography
Skyfall (2012)
Director Of Photography
In Time (2011)
Director Of Photography
Rango (2011)
Cinematographer
The Company Men (2010)
Director Of Photography
True Grit (2010)
Director Of Photography
A Serious Man (2009)
Director Of Photography
The Reader (2008)
Camera Operator
The Reader (2008)
Director Of Photography
Doubt (2008)
Director Of Photography
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Director Of Photography
Doubt (2008)
Camera Operator
In the Valley of Elah (2007)
Director Of Photography
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Camera Operator
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Director Of Photography
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Director Of Photography
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Camera Operator
Jarhead (2005)
Director Of Photography
The Ladykillers (2004)
Director Of Photography
The Village (2004)
Director Of Photography
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
Director Of Photography
Levity (2003)
Camera Operator
House of Sand and Fog (2003)
Director Of Photography
Levity (2003)
Director Of Photography
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Director of Photography
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
Director of Photography
Dinner With Friends (2001)
Director Of Photography
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Director Of Photography
Anywhere But Here (1999)
Director Of Photography
The Hurricane (1999)
Director Of Photography
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Director Of Photography
The Siege (1998)
Director Of Photography
Kundun (1997)
Director Of Photography
Courage Under Fire (1996)
Director Of Photography
Fargo (1996)
Director Of Photography
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Director Of Photography
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Director Of Photography
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Director Of Photography
The Secret Garden (1993)
Director Of Photography
Passion Fish (1992)
Director Of Photography
Thunderheart (1992)
Director Of Photography
Barton Fink (1991)
Director Of Photography
Homicide (1991)
Director Of Photography
Air America (1990)
Director Of Photography
Mountains of the Moon (1990)
Camera Operator
The Long Walk Home (1990)
Director Of Photography
Mountains of the Moon (1990)
Director Of Photography
Stormy Monday (1988)
Director Of Photography
Pascali's Island (1988)
Director Of Photography
White Mischief (1988)
Director Of Photography
Shadey (1987)
Director Of Photography
Personal Services (1987)
Director Of Photography
The Kitchen Toto (1987)
Director Of Photography
Defence of the Realm (1986)
Director Of Photography
Sid And Nancy (1986)
Director Of Photography
Return to Waterloo (1985)
Director Of Photography
The Innocent (1984)
Director Of Photography
1984 (1984)
Director Of Photography
Alan Bush a Life (1983)
Director Of Photography
Another Time, Another Place (1983)
Director Of Photography
Van Morrison in Ireland (1981)
Cinematographer
The Animals Film (1981)
Cinematographer
Memoirs of a Survivor (1981)
Director Of Photography 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)
Blue Suede Shoes (1979)
Director Of Photography
Cruel Passion (1977)
Director Of Photography
Before Hindsight (1977)
Director Of Photography
Empty Hand (1976)
Director Of Photography
Welcome to Britain (1976)
Director Of Photography

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019)
Consultant
1917 (2019)
Other
1917 (2019)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Goldfinch (2019)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Goldfinch (2019)
Other
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Dp/Cinematographer
Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Other
Hail Caesar (2016)
Dp/Cinematographer
Hail Caesar (2016)
Other
Sicario (2015)
Other
Unbroken (2014)
Dp/Cinematographer
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)
Consultant
Unbroken (2014)
Other
The Croods (2013)
Consultant
Prisoners (2013)
Dp/Cinematographer
Skyfall (2012)
Dp/Cinematographer
Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Consultant
Skyfall (2012)
Other
Rango (2011)
Dp/Cinematographer
How to Train Your Dragon (2010)
Consultant
The Company Men (2010)
Dp/Cinematographer
A Serious Man (2009)
Dp/Cinematographer
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Dp/Cinematographer
WALL-E (2008)
Consultant
Doubt (2008)
Dp/Cinematographer
In the Valley of Elah (2007)
Other
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Ladykillers (2004)
Dp/Cinematographer
Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
Dp/Cinematographer
Anywhere But Here (1999)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Siege (1998)
Dp/Cinematographer
Kundun (1997)
Dp/Cinematographer
Courage Under Fire (1996)
Dp/Cinematographer
Fargo (1996)
Dp/Cinematographer
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Secret Garden (1993)
Dp/Cinematographer
Thunderheart (1992)
Dp/Cinematographer
Homicide (1991)
Dp/Cinematographer
Stormy Monday (1988)
Other

Life Events

1972

Met future collaborator Michael Radford, while attending Film School

1976

Filmed the documentary feature, "Welcome to Britain" and the short film, "Empty Hand"

1977

Director of photography for his first non-documentary, "Cruel Passion"

1983

First collaboration with Michael Radford, "Another Place, Another Time"

1984

Served as cinematographer on Radford's film version of "1984"

1986

Director of photography for Alex Cox's "Sid and Nancy"

1987

Re-teamed with Radford for "White Mischief"

1990

American film debut as a cinematographer, "Mountains of the Moon"

1991

First collaboration with the Coen brothers, "Barton Fink"

1994

Earned first Academy Award nomination for his work on "The Shawshank Redemption"

1994

Second film for the Coens, "The Hudsucker Proxy"

1996

Re-teamed with the Coen brothers' for "Fargo"; earned second Academy Award nomination

1997

Received third Academy Award nomination for Martin Scorsese's "Kundun"

2000

Again teamed with the Coen brothers' for "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"; earned fourth Academy Award nomination

2001

Re-teamed with the Coen brothers' for "The Man Who Wasn't There"; earned fifth Academy Award nomination

2001

Was the cinematographer for Ron Howard's "A Beautiful Mind"

2003

Shot the beautifully filmed, "House of Sand and Fog" for director Vadim Perelman

2005

Filmed the Sam Mendes directed, "Jarhead"

2007

Again collaborated with the Coen brothers' for "No Country for Old Men"; earned seventh Academy Award nomination

2007

Shot the film, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"; earned sixth Academy Award nomination

2008

Co-cinematographer for Stephen Daldry's "The Reader"; earned eighth Academy Award nomination

2008

Was also the cinematographer for Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road" and John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt"

2009

Again collaborated with the Coen brothers' for "A Serious Man"

2010

Teamed with the Coen brothers' for "True Grit"

2011

Shot Joel and Ethan Coen's "True Grit"

2012

Was cinematographer on Sam Mendes' James Bond film "Skyfall"

2014

Shot the Angelina Jolie drama "Unbroken", about a U.S. Olympian held captive during World War Two

Videos

Movie Clip

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - Delmar's Been Saved! Pete (John Turturro) is disagreeing with Everett (George Clooney) about their next move when, along with Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), the fugitives are swept into a congregation in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - Man of Constant Sorrow Everett (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), with Tommy (Chris Thomas King) now in tow, get a radio gig (song performed by Dan Tyminski) in Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - The Word Of God In Bulk Salesman Big Dan Teague (John Goodman) returns hospitality in his own way to Everett (George Clooney) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and a frog, who may be their pal Pete, in Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - You Three Ladies Fugitives Everett (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) called by the "Sirens," (Mia Tate, Musetta Vander, Christy Taylor) in Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) - Credits, Rock Candy Mountain Credit sequence, to "Big Rock Candy Mountain" performed by Harry McClintock, from Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000, starring George Clooney, Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro.
Beautiful Mind, A (2002) - Who's Big Brother? MIT scientist John Nash (Russell Crowe) has big thoughts when summoned by a general (Jesse Doran) to the Pentagon, Ed Harris making his first appearance as a spooky government agent, in director Ron Howard’s Best Picture winner, A Beautiful Mind, 2002.
Beautiful Mind, A (2002) - What If No One Goes For The Blonde? John Nash (Russell Crowe) considers the odds when a beautiful blonde enters the college pub, Adam Goldberg, Anthony Rapp, Jason Gray-Stanford and Josh Lucas his buddies, in director Ron Howard's simplification of Nash's Nobel Prize-winning notion in A Beautiful Mind, 2002.
Beautiful Mind, A (2002) - A Number Of Solutions From writer Akiva Goldsman and director Ron Howard, an academic meet-cute, as scientist and reluctant professor John Nash (Russell Crowe) discovers MIT co-ed Alicia Larde (later Nash, Jennifer Connelly), in A Beautiful Mind, 2002.
Mountains Of The Moon (1990) - Of Course There's The Nile In director Bob Rafelson’s opening, aspiring explorer Speke (Iain Glen) arrives on the east coast of Africa, 1854, Pip Torrens and Philip Voss representing the British army, then Christoper Fulford and Garry Cooper as followers of the vaunted Captain Richard Burton (Patrick Bergin), in Mountains Of The Moon, 1990.
Mountains Of The Moon (1990) - Fevers And Madness Setting out from Zanzibar or thereabouts, Burton (Patrick Bergin) narrates as he and Speke (Iain Glen) begin their famous 1857 expedition to seek the source of the Nile, eventually coming on Delroy Lindo, in trouble with some lions, in director Bob Rafelson's Mountains Of The Moon, 1990.
Mountains Of The Moon (1990) - Royal Geographic Society Explorer Burton (Patrick Bergin) lobbying the society in director Bob Rafelson’s emphatically Victorian London, introducing Lord Murchison (John Savident), Fiona Shaw as Isabel, Richard E. Grant as Larry, Peter Vaughan and Frances Cuka as Lord and Lady Houghton and Craig Crosbie as the poet Swinburne, in Mountains Of The Moon 1990.
Thunderheart (1992) - Washington Redskin FBI agent Levoi (Val Kilmer) is investigating on the Res when he meets the self-assured Maggie Two Bears (Sheila Tousey), then has his first weird vision, in Michael Apted's Thunderheart, 1992.

Trailer

Bibliography

Notes

"['Kundun'] really isn't an epic; it's more of an intimate look at the life of an extraordinary person. During the prep period, Marty [director Martin Scorsese] and I talked about 'The Last Emperor' a bit, and how it was so vast and overpowering. I hope that our film is somehow more naturalistic and earthy. The story is really about the child, and it's seen primarily from his point of view. We generally didn't show much that he didn't experience firsthand. . . . As the Dalai Lama grows older, he becomes more aware of the political situation around him." --Roger Deakins quoted in AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER, February 1998