An actor turned screenwriter whose sharp wit propelled him to an Oscar for his keen screenplay for Robert Altman's Gosford Park, Julian Fellowes had plenty of time to soak up the English upper crust's disdain for anything pop culture-related while growing up, and was sure to filter those observations in a script that crackled with bitter insight into England's upper-class master/servant relationships. Born to a diplomat father in England in 1954, Fellowes lived his early life in luxury. After receiving his primary schooling in Britain's prestigious Ampleforth, Fellowes studied English literature at Cambridge before enrolling in drama school at 21. As an aspiring actor, Fellowes found himself straddling the complicated class system as he resided in squalor during the week, only to return home and have the servants do his laundry on the weekend. Settling into a comfortable stint as a character actor, Fellowes alternated between film and television with roles in such films as Baby: The Secret of the Lost Legend (1985) and as Noel Coward in Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (1989). Appearing in numerous miniseries and made-for-television films throughout the 1990s, Fellowes took his first stab at screenwriting in the 1994 miniseries Little Lord Fauntleroy. After hearing that famed director Robert Altman was seeking a screenwriter with a working knowledge of England's class system, Fellowes quickly shot to the top of a short list of potential writers for the film. With numerous personal stories from which to work, the now established screenwriter turned years of passive observation and quiet dissent into a stinging screenplay that would serve as a springboard for the talents of the film's noteworthy cast.
Biography by Jason Buchanan
- Represented Magdalene College on University Challenge, a British TV quiz show, in 1969; he lost in the first round.
- Wrote romance novels under the pseudonym of Rebecca Greville.
- Was invariably cast in supporting roles while pursing an acting career in England during the 1970s.
- Relocated to Hollywood in the early 1980s, where he thought he'd scored a big break: taking over the role of Mr. Roarke's sidekick on Fantasy Island from Hervé Villechaize. The producers decided to go with the older Christopher Hewett instead, however.
- Had a dozen screenplays rejected before being asked to write the script for Robert Altman's 2001 film Gosford Park; he won an Oscar for it.
- Proposed to his wife Emma 20 minutes after meeting her; she initially thought him daft and refused to give him her phone number. They married some 15 months later.
- His wife Emma is a lady in waiting to Princess Michael of Kent.
- Appointed to Britain's House of Lords in 2010 by prime minister David Cameron.
- Supports many charities, including the RNIB, a nonprofit that helps blind and partially sighted people; Breast Cancer Haven; and the Alzheimer's Society.