Jan de Bont

Active - 1967 - 2012  |   Born - Oct 22, 1943 in Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant, The Netherlands  |   Genres - Drama, Action, Comedy, Thriller, Adventure

Share on

Biography by Andrea LeVasseur

Dutch cameraman Jan de Bont built his career out of crafting the look of stylish action pieces and slick adventures; in the process, he became associated with some of the most profitable movies in Hollywood. He went to film school in Amsterdam during the '60s, making several shorts and documentaries. He shot Wat Zien Ik? in 1971 for director Paul Verhoeven (also from The Netherlands) and the two continued working together over the next two decades until Basic Instinct in 1992. In the early '80s, de Bont built his extensive cinematography resumé with horror movies (Cujo), dramas (I'm Dancing As Fast As I Can), and teen movies (All the Right Moves). He eventually developed a quick style that incorporated handheld cameras and constant movement. Perhaps the most prolific period of his career was in the mid-'80s, when he directed the photography for such large-scale adventures as Jewel of the Nile and The Clan of the Cave Bear. He then shot the flashy comedy Ruthless People before he made himself known for his work with the 1988 action classic Die Hard. It appeared as if de Bont's style was setting the standards for the look of action sagas, and he stayed with the genre with The Hunt for Red October and Lethal Weapon 3; but he also managed thrillers such as Flatliners and Shining Through. Making his directorial debut in 1994 with Speed, he maintained his flashy visual style but proved he could handle characters, as well. After directing the action-packed, but less-successful, Twister and Speed 2: Cruise Control, he moved on to producing with SLC Punk and The Haunting (which he also directed). The filmmaker continued producing with the sci-fi action flicks Minority Report and Equilibrium before returning to the director's chair for Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life in 2003.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography


  • Was one of seventeen children.
  • Made 9mm films when he was 10 years old.  By the time he was in high school, he had progressed to 16mm films.
  • Began his career as director of photography.
  • Moved to the United States in 1977.
  • Got mauled by a tiger on the set of first his American project, Roar.
  • Made directorial debut with Speed in 1994.
  • Formed a production company called Blue Tulip Productions in 1996.
  • Developed a quick style that blended handheld cameras with the feeling of constant motion for the audience.