Paul Greengrass

Paul Greengrass

Active - 1983 - 2020  |   Born - Aug 13, 1955 in Cheam, Surrey, England  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Action

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Biography by AllMovie

Renowned for his startling realism, British-born director Paul Greengrass got his start working on the U.K. documentary series World in Action before taking his first stab at a feature with 1989's The Resurrection. The harsh anti-war film followed a soldier in the aftermath of the Falklands war and was nominated for the Golden Bear award at that year's Berlin Film Festival.

Throughout most of the '90s, Greengrass worked primarily in television, helming such well-received TV movies as Open Fire and The One That Got Away, but he returned to the big screen in 1998 with the romantic comedy drama The Theory of Flight. The film had a lighter tone compared to Greengrass' other work and was met with mixed reviews. However, his next project, 2002's Bloody Sunday, was a return to form and garnered nearly unanimous acclaim. The fictional account of the titular massacre netted the director both another Golden Bear and the audience prize at Sundance.

Greengrass' next film would find him taking a more commercial turn, as he took over directing reigns from Doug Liman for the sequel The Bourne Supremacy. Despite the dark tone of the action film, it was a box-office hit, and Greengrass earned enough cred to land a directing gig on United 93, Universal's docudrama about the ill-fated airplane that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, after passengers overtook a group of hijackers. Using a cast of relative unknowns, Greengrass created a stark and unglamorized portrait of the tragedy and those involved. Though many approached the film with trepidation for fear that it was an attempt to exploit and capitalize on a still-open wound, it won high praise from audiences and critics alike, landing on several year-end best-of lists and earning Greengrass his first Academy Award nomination.

In 2007, Greengrass returned to the Jason Bourne saga with The Bourne Ultimatum, the third and arguably most-intense entry in the espionage series. The pared-down action and striking handheld camerawork won over audiences and critics, even more so than Supremacy. Greengrass worked with Matt Damon again in 2010 when he directed Green Zone, a thriller following the unraveling of a conspiracy in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion.

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  • Created movies in his high school's art room, filming with a super 8 camera and using whatever items he found lying around.
  • Cowrote the controversial 1985 book Spycatcher with former British Secret Service (MI5) Assistant Director Peter Wright; because of the sensitive information it contained, the book was banned from release by the British government until 1988.
  • Spent 10 years working on the acclaimed British documentary series World in Action before returning to filmmaking with the 1989 drama Resurrected.
  • Won Best Director at the British Independent Film Awards and the Irish Film and Television Awards for the 2002 fact-based drama Bloody Sunday, which also won the Golden Berlin Bear for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival.
  • After directing the widely popular sequel The Bourne Supremacy (2004), he made the more controversial docudrama United 93, the first feature film to focus on the events of 9/11.
  • Filmed Green Zone (2010), an Iraq War thriller starring Matt Damon as a military man searching for weapons of mass destruction, in Morocco, Spain and England.