- Birth name
Unwilling to return to the United States and face arrest, he has continued to direct films in Europe, including Frantic (1988), the Academy Award-winning and Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or-winning The Pianist (2002), and Oliver Twist (2005).
Polanski was born Rajmund Roman Liebling in Paris, France, the son of Ryszard Liebling (aka Ryszard Polański), a painter and plastics manufacturer, and Bula (nee Katz-Przedborska). Polanski's parents were agnostics; his father was a Polish Jew and his mother, a native of Russia, was raised Catholic and had a Jewish father and a Roman Catholic mother.
The Polański family moved back to Poland in 1937. Thereafter, in 1939, Poland was invaded and occupied by Germany and the Soviet Union troops by what is now know as the Nazi-Soviet Pact. On November 13, 1939, the Polish city of Kraków became the seat of office of Hans Frank. The General Government surrounded parts of the Polish state, which had not been annexed to Germany. The declared goal of the German occupiers was to make the General Government judenfrei, and expel the Poles so Germans could settle there.
The Polański family was the target of Nazi persecution and forced into the Kraków Ghetto, along with thousands of other Polish Jews. Roman Polanski's mother subsequently died in Auschwitz concentration camp. His father barely survived the Austrian concentration camp Mauthausen-Gusen. Polanski himself escaped the Kraków Ghetto, surviving the war with the help of a Polish Catholic farmer, on whose farm he had to sleep in a cow stall. After the war he found out from his sister that his mother had died.
He was educated at the film school in ?ódź, Poland, from which he graduated in 1959. Polanski speaks six languages: Polish, Russian, English, French, Spanish, and Italian.
Several short films made during the study gained considerable recognition. His first major film Knife in the Water (1962) was the first significant Polish film after the war that did not have a war theme. It was Polanski's first nomination for the Oscar.
Polanski then made films in the United Kingdom; Repulsion (1965), a tale of madness and alienation; Cul-de-Sac (1966) tells the story of a couple (Donald Pleasence and Françoise Dorleac) living on a remote island, who are visited by two gangsters (Lionel Stander and Jack MacGowran).
The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) is the American title for Dance of the Vampires, a combination of comedy and horror.
Polanski met rising star Sharon Tate while filming The Fearless Vampire Killers and during the production began dating. In 1968 Polanski went to Hollywood, where his reputation was enhanced by the success of the thriller Rosemary's Baby (1968). On January 25, 1968, he married Tate in London, England. In his autobiography, Polanski described his brief time with Tate as the best years of his life. During this time period, he also became friends with Bruce Lee.
On August 9, 1969, Tate, who was eight months pregnant, and four others (Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent) were brutally murdered by members of Charles Manson's "Family", who entered the Polanski home on Cielo Drive in the Hollywood Hills with the intent to "kill everyone there". They knew that the previous owner of the house, record producer Terry Melcher, had moved out. He had failed to help Charles Manson's fledgling music career, which was thought to be a possible motive, but the murderers testified that they knew he no longer lived there. When Manson told them to go to the property and kill everyone, they obeyed. After Parent, Sebring, Frykowski, and Folger had been killed, Tate pleaded for the life of her unborn son. Susan Atkins replied that she had no mercy for her, and then killed her. She soaked up some of Tate's blood and wrote "PIG" on the front door using a towel.
Polanski was in England at the time of the murders and immediately returned to Los Angeles, where he was questioned by police. As there were no suspects in the case, police checked on the past history of Polanski and Tate to try to determine a motive. After a period of months Manson and his "family" were arrested on unrelated charges, which revealed evidence of what came to be known as the Tate-La Bianca murders. Polanski returned to Europe shortly after the killers were arrested. He later said that he gave away all his possessions as everything reminded him of Sharon Tate and was too painful for him, and that the greatest regret of his life was that he was not at home with Tate on the night of her murder.
In 1969 Polanski also lost friend and collaborator Krzysztof Komeda (1931—1969). Komeda had been a popular jazz artist in Poland when the director first approached him to score a short film. He went on to score almost all of Polanski's feature films until a head injury resulted in the composer's death. He is probably best known in the US for the haunting soundtrack to the movie Rosemary's Baby.
Polanski's next feature was a film version of Macbeth (1971). This was followed by What? (1972), a surreal comedy about a young woman (Sydne Rome) and her adventures in a remote villa. Chinatown (1974), from a screenplay by Robert Towne and starring Jack Nicholson, is a tale of corruption in pre-war Los Angeles. Polanski has a cameo as a hoodlum who slits Jake's nose open after Jake insults his height. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.
Polanski took the lead in his next film, The Tenant (1976), the story of a Polish immigrant living in Paris.
In 1977 Polanski, 43, became embroiled in a scandal involving 13-year-old Samantha Geimer. It ultimately led to Polanski's guilty plea to the charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.
According to Geimer, Polanski asked Geimer's mother if he could photograph the girl for the French edition of Vogue. Her mother allowed a private photo shoot. According to Geimer in a 2003 interview, "Everything was going fine; then he asked me to change, well, in front of him." She added, "It didn't feel right, and I didn't want to go back to the second shoot."
However, subsequent to the first photo shoot, she agreed to a second session, which took place on March 10, 1977, in the Mulholland area of Los Angeles, near Jack Nicholson's estate. "We did photos with me drinking champagne," Geimer says. "Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn't quite know how to get myself out of there." Geimer alleged that Polanski sexually assaulted her after giving her a combination of champagne and quaaludes. In the 2003 interview, Geimer says she resisted. "I said no several times, and then, well, gave up on that," she says.
Polanski was initially charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14, and furnishing a controlled substance (methaqualone) to a minor, but these charges were dismissed under the terms of his plea bargain, and he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.
In Roman by Polanski, Polanski alleged that Geimer's mother had set up the daughter as part of a casting couch and blackmail scheme against him.
On February 1, 1978, Polanski fled to France, where he retained citizenship. He believed that the judge was going to disregard the plea bargain, in which case he could be sentenced to a prison term (albeit much less than the 50 years he faced under the original indictment). Like many countries, France refuses to extradite its own citizens, which is consistent with the extradition treaty between France and the United States. As a consequence, the American extradition request was not granted. The United States government could have requested that Polanski be prosecuted on the California charges by the French authorities, but this option was not pursued.
The United States could still request the arrest and extradition of Polanski from other countries should he visit them. As a consequence, Polanski has since avoided visits to countries that were likely to extradite him, such as the United Kingdom, mostly travelling between France and Poland.
In a 2003 interview, Samantha Geimer said, "Straight up, what he did to me was wrong. But I wish he would return to America so the whole ordeal can be put to rest for both of us." Furthermore, "I'm sure if he could go back, he wouldn't do it again. He made a terrible mistake but he's paid for it."
Much has been made of the fact that Polanski "cannot return" to the United States since the events of 1977/78, but he makes it very clear in his autobiography that he never actually lived in the U.S. to begin with. It is generally overlooked that at the time of his 1977 arrest, he was visiting the U.S. and the arrest actually took place in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where he was staying. At that time, he had directed nine films, but only two were shot in the U.S. A regular visitor to the U.S., Polanski once rented a Los Angeles house—where the infamous Manson Murders took place (he, however, was at home in London at the time)—but by his own account, Polanski had resided in Britain (apart from a short time in Italy) for many years when he fled Los Angeles for Paris in 1978. Some critics have argued that Polanski has done much of his best work since settling in Paris, an opinion supported by his Oscar for Best Director in 2002.
In 2004, Polanski sued Vanity Fair magazine in London for libel. A 2002 article in the magazine written by A. E. Hotchner recounted a claim by Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper's, that Polanski had made sexual advances towards a young model as he was travelling to Sharon Tate's funeral, claiming that he could make her "the next Sharon Tate". The court permitted Polanski to testify via a video link, after he expressed fears that he might be extradited were he to enter the United Kingdom.
The trial started on July 18, 2005, and Polanski made English legal history as the first claimant to give evidence by video link. During the trial, which included the testimony of Mia Farrow and others, it was proved that the alleged scene at the famous New York restaurant Elaine's could not have taken place on the date given, because Polanski only dined at this restaurant three weeks later. Also, the Norwegian model disputed accounts that he had claimed to be able to make her "the next Sharon Tate". In the course of the trial, Polanski did admit to having been unfaithful to Tate during their marriage.
Polanski was awarded £50,000 damages by the High Court in London. Edward Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, responded, "I find it amazing that a man who lives in France can sue a magazine that is published in America in a British courtroom." Samantha Geimer commented, "Surely a man like this hasn't got a reputation to tarnish?"
Polanski received another Academy Award nomination for Tess (1979). Polanski dedicated the movie Tess to Sharon Tate because, after spending time with Polanski in London, Tate left a copy of the novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles on Polanski's nightstand, along with a note saying it would make a good film. She returned to the United States and was murdered soon after. Pirates (1986), a lavish period piece, was a commercial and critical failure. This was followed by Frantic (1988), which features actress and model Emmanuelle Seigner, whom the director married in 1989. She starred in several of his films including Bitter Moon, in 1992, and The Ninth Gate (1999). They have two children, Morgane and Elvis, the latter named after his favourite singer, Elvis Presley.
In 1997 he directed a stage version of The Fearless Vampire Killers, a musical, which debuted on October 4, 1997 in Vienna as Tanz der Vampire, the German title of the film version. After closing in Vienna, the show had successful runs in Stuttgart and Hamburg, Germany.
On March 11, 1998 Polanski was elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
In May 2002, Polanski won the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes Film Festival for The Pianist, for which he also later won the 2002 Academy Award for Directing. He did not attend the Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood. After the announcement of the "Best Director Award", Polanski received a standing ovation from most of those present in the theater. In 2004 he received the Crystal Globe award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
During the summer and autumn of 2004, Polanski shot a new film adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist. The shooting took place at the Barrandov Studios in Prague, Czech Republic, based on Ronald Harwood's screenplay. The actors included Barney Clark (Oliver Twist), Jamie Foreman (Bill Sykes), Harry Eden (the Artful Dodger), Ben Kingsley (Fagin), Lee-anne Rix (Nancy), and Edward Hardwicke (Mr Brownlow). Besides the cast, the director gathered some collaborators from his previous movies: Ronald Harwood (screenplay), as noted, Allan Starski (production designer), Pawel Edelman (director of photography), and Anna Sheppard (costume designer).
Polanski's next film will be Pompeii about the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. It is based on the bestselling book of the same name by Robert Harris, who is also writing the screenplay. Orlando Bloom and Scarlett Johansson were rumored to star, but the film's start date has been pushed back and both actors were forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.
He will next appear in Rush Hour 3 as a French police official.
In 2007, a novel by the Dutch writer A. F. Th. van der Heijden was published based on parts of Roman Polanski's life. In the novel called Schervengericht (the ancient Greek practice of voting using shards of pottery, also known as ostracism), set in 1977, a famous Polish movie director called Raymond is put under psychological surveillance in a fictional Californian prison called Choreo, after being accused of having raped a thirteen-year-old girl. In the prison he spends his time with a man covered in bandages, who calls himself Scott Maddox and who later on turns out to be the man behind the murder of Raymond's wife, which took place eight years before.
Most of Polanski's films are intelligent psychological thrillers. A recurring theme in his work is the relationship between victim and predator (Death and The Maiden, Bitter Moon, Cul-de-Sac, Rosemary's Baby). His films depict a world that is cruel, grotesque and filled with brutal sex and dark humour. Polanski likes to shoot his films from the position of a voyeur. Death and the Maiden star Stuart Wilson said of Polanski, "Roman is very deep water pretending [to be] shallow water."
|2013||Cannes Film Festival||Venus in Fur (2013).||Nominated|
|2013||Polish Film Awards||Best Director||Carnage (2011).||Won|
|2012||César Awards, France||Best Adapted Screenplay||Carnage (2011).||Won|
|2012||Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain||Best Screenplay, Adapted||Carnage (2011).||Won|
|2012||Kinema Junpo Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Won|
|2012||David di Donatello Awards||Best European Film||Carnage (2011).||Nominated|
|2012||Goya Awards||Best European Film||Carnage (2011).||Nominated|
|2012||Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists||Best European Director||Carnage (2011).||Nominated|
|2012||European Film Awards||Best Screenwriter||Carnage (2011).||Nominated|
|2011||Chlotrudis Awards||Best Adapted Screenplay||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Nominated|
|2011||National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA||Best Director||The Ghost Writer (2010).||3rd place|
|2011||Goya Awards||Best European Film||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Nominated|
|2011||Venice Film Festival||Carnage (2011).||Won|
|2011||Étoiles d'Or||Best Director||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Won|
|2011||César Awards, France||Best Adapted Screenplay||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Won|
|2011||Gaudí Awards||Best European Film||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Nominated|
|2011||USC Scripter Award||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Nominated|
|2011||Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards||Best Foreign Film, Not in the Spanish Language||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Nominated|
|2010||Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists||Best European Director||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Nominated|
|2010||Satellite Awards||Best Director||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Nominated|
|2010||Golden Globes, Italy||Best European Film||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Won|
|2010||European Film Awards||Best Director||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Won|
|2010||Berlin International Film Festival||Best Director||The Ghost Writer (2010).||Won|
|2009||Zurich Film Festival||A Tribute To...||Won|
|2006||European Film Awards||Won|
|2004||Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards||Best Foreign Film||The Pianist (2002).||Nominated|
|2004||Mainichi Film Concours||Best Foreign Language Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2004||Karlovy Vary International Film Festival||Won|
|2004||Kinema Junpo Awards||Best Foreign Language Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2004||Czech Lions||Best Foreign Language Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Academy Awards, USA||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Turia Awards||Best Foreign Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Norwegian International Film Festival||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Vancouver Film Critics Circle||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Nominated|
|2003||Étoiles d'Or||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Sant Jordi Awards||Best Foreign Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Golden Globes, Italy||Best European Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Polish Film Awards||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Goya Awards||Best European Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists||Best Foreign Director||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Fotogramas de Plata||Best Foreign Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Directors Guild of America, USA||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures||The Pianist (2002).||Nominated|
|2003||Czech Critics Awards||Won|
|2003||César Awards, France||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Nominated|
|2003||David di Donatello Awards||Best Foreign Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Nominated|
|2003||Bermuda International Film Festival||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||BAFTA Awards||Best Film||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2003||Bavarian Film Awards||Won|
|2002||Boston Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2002||European Film Awards||Best Director||The Pianist (2002).||Nominated|
|2002||Cannes Film Festival||The Pianist (2002).||Won|
|2001||Polish Film Awards||Won|
|1999||European Film Awards||The Ninth Gate (1999).||Won|
|1999||Stockholm Film Festival||Won|
|1995||Fantasporto||Best Film||Death and the Maiden (1994).||Nominated|
|1995||Independent Spirit Awards||Best Director||Death and the Maiden (1994).||Nominated|
|1993||Venice Film Festival||Won|
|1981||Boston Society of Film Critics Awards||Best Director||Tess (1979).||Won|
|1981||Academy Awards, USA||Best Director||Tess (1979).||Nominated|
|1981||Golden Globes, USA||Best Director - Motion Picture||Tess (1979).||Nominated|
|1980||César Awards, France||Best Director||Tess (1979).||Won|
|1980||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards||Best Director||Tess (1979).||Won|
|1976||Cannes Film Festival||The Tenant (1976).||Nominated|
|1975||Bodil Awards||Best Non-European Film||Chinatown (1974).||Won|
|1975||BAFTA Awards||Best Direction||Chinatown (1974).||Won|
|1975||Directors Guild of America, USA||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures||Chinatown (1974).||Nominated|
|1975||Academy Awards, USA||Best Director||Chinatown (1974).||Nominated|
|1975||Golden Globes, USA||Best Director - Motion Picture||Chinatown (1974).||Won|
|1975||Sant Jordi Awards||Best Foreign Film||Chinatown (1974).||Won|
|1972||Berlin International Film Festival||Documentary||Weekend of a Champion (1972).||Won|
|1971||Laurel Awards||Best Director||Nominated|
|1970||French Syndicate of Cinema Critics||Best Foreign Film||Rosemary's Baby (1968).||Won|
|1969||Directors Guild of America, USA||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures||Rosemary's Baby (1968).||Nominated|
|1969||Edgar Allan Poe Awards||Best Motion Picture||Rosemary's Baby (1968).||Nominated|
|1969||Writers Guild of America, USA||Best Written American Drama||Rosemary's Baby (1968).||Nominated|
|1969||Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation||Rosemary's Baby (1968).||Nominated|
|1969||Golden Globes, USA||Best Screenplay||Rosemary's Baby (1968).||Nominated|
|1969||Academy Awards, USA||Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium||Rosemary's Baby (1968).||Nominated|
|1969||David di Donatello Awards||Best Foreign Director||Rosemary's Baby (1968).||Won|
|1966||Berlin International Film Festival||Cul-de-sac (1966).||Won|
|1965||Berlin International Film Festival||Repulsion (1965).||Won|
|1965||New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Director||Repulsion (1965).||2nd place|
|1963||Melbourne International Film Festival||Under 30 minutes||The Fat and the Lean (1961).||Won|
|1963||Oberhausen International Short Film Festival||Mammals (1962).||Won|
|1963||Cracow Film Festival||Other Forms||Mammals (1962).||Won|
|1962||Venice Film Festival||Knife in the Water (1962).||Won|
|1959||Oberhausen International Short Film Festival||Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958).||Won|
|1958||San Francisco International Film Festival||Best Short Subject||Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958).||Won|
66th Annual Cannes Film Festival - "La Venus a la Fourrure" ("Venus in Fur") Premiere - Arrivals
66th Annual Cannes Film Festival - "La Venus a la Fourrure" ("Venus in Fur") Photocall
66th Annual Cannes Film Festival - "Weekend of a Champion" Premiere - Arrivals
2012 Festival International du Film Restaure - Arrivals
65th Annual Cannes Film Festival - "Vous N'avez Encore Rien Vu" Premiere - Arrivals
"Bruno" Paris Premiere - Arrivals