DOB: August 18, 1933
Background: Polanski's stories history began when he was born in Paris to Polish parents, who moved with him back to Poland in 1937, not long before World War II. His family was forced into a ghetto after the German invasion; his father survived the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, but his mother died in Auschwitz. But Polansksi escaped the ghetto in 1943 and survived with the help of several Catholic families. After the war he reunited with his father and returned to Krakow.
After his film career began he was involved in multiple controversies. His second wife, actress Sharon Tate, was killed in 1969 at the hands of the Manson family. And in 1977, when Polanski was 43, he was arrested for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. After a lengthy legal battle, he fled the United States and remains in exile from the country to this day.
Filmography: After directing multiple short films in the 1950s, he made his feature debut in Poland with "Knife in the Water" (1962), which earned him immediate international notoriety, including an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. He followed that with the British film "Repulsion" (1965). He made his American breakthrough with the horror film "Rosemary's Baby" in 1968. He adapted Shakespeare's "Macbeth" before helming another classic American film, the noir thriller "Chinatown" (1974) starring Jack Nicholson. He dedicated "Tess" (1979) to his late wife Tate. It starred a young Nastassja Kinski, with whom he became romantically involved. Afterwards, he did not make another film until 1986, when he made "Pirates," a critical and commercial disappointment. His next film, "Frantic" (1988), starred Harrison Ford and Emmanuelle Seigner, whom Polanski would marry the following year. In the 1990s he directed "Bitter Moon," "Death and the Maiden," and "The Ninth Gate."
But it was "The Pianist" in 2002 that won Roman Polanski an Oscar for Best Director. The film, which also won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, tells the true story of a Jewish musician's escape from German concentration camps during the Holocaust. It was partly inspired by his own experiences as a child. After that success he directed an adaptation of the Dickens classic "Oliver Twist" (2005), and then the critically acclaimed political thriller "The Ghost Writer" (2010). His latest film is "Carnage," based on the Tony Award-winning play "God of Carnage," features an all-star cast: Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly.
Academy Awards: Win - Best Director ("The Pianist," 2003)
Best Picture nomination:
- "The Pianist" (2003); lost to "Chicago"
Best Director nominations:
- "Tess" (1981); lost to Robert Redford ("Ordinary People")
- "Chinatown" (1975); lost to Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather Part II")
Best Adapted Screenplay nomination:
- "Rosemary's Baby" (1969); lost to James Goldman ("The Lion in Winter")
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