Roman Polanski (born Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański, 18 August 1933) is a Polish-French film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few "truly international filmmakers." Polanski's films have inspired diverse directors, including the Coen brothers, Atom Egoyan, Darren Aronofsky, Park Chan-wook, Abel Ferrara, and Wes Craven.
Born in Paris to Polish parents, he moved with his family back to Poland in 1937, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. He survived the Holocaust and was educated in Poland and became a director of both art house and commercial films. Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), made in Poland, was nominated for a United States Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film but was beaten by Federico Fellini's 8½. He has since received five more Oscar nominations, along with two Baftas, four Césars, a Golden Globe Award and the Palme d'Or of the Cannes Film Festival in France. In the United Kingdom he directed three films, beginning with Repulsion (1965). In 1968 he moved to the United States, and cemented his status by directing the horror film Rosemary's Baby (1968) for which Ruth Gordon won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.
In 1969, Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by members of the Manson Family while staying at Polanski's Benedict Canyon home above Los Angeles. Following Tate's death, Polanski returned to Europe and spent much of his time in Paris and Gstaad, but did not direct another film until Macbeth (1971) in England. The following year he went to Italy to make What? (1973) and subsequently spent the next five years living near Rome. However, he traveled to Hollywood to direct Chinatown (1974). The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, and was a critical and box-office success. Polanski's next film, The Tenant (1976), was shot in France, and completed the "Apartment Trilogy", following Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby.
In 1977, after a photo shoot in Los Angeles, Polanski was arrested for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl and pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawful sex with a minor. To avoid sentencing, Polanski fled to his home in London, eventually settling in France. In September 2009, he was arrested by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities, which also asked for his extradition. The Swiss rejected that request, and instead released him from custody, declaring him a "free man." During an interview for a later film documentary, he offered his apology to the woman, and in a separate interview with Swiss TV he said that he has regretted that episode for the last 33 years.
Polanski continued to make films such as The Pianist (2002), a World War II true story drama about a Jewish-Polish musician. The film won three Academy Awards including Best Director, along with numerous international awards. He also directed other films, including Oliver Twist (2005), a story which parallels his own life as a "young boy attempting to triumph over adversity. His most recent films are The Ghost Writer (2010), a thriller focusing on a ghostwriter working with a former British Prime Minister, and Carnage (2011), a comedy-drama starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.
Famous quotes containing the words roman and/or polanski:
“A Roman divorced from his wife, being highly blamed by his friends, who demanded, Was she not chaste? Was she not fair? Was she not fruitful? holding out his shoe, asked them whether it was not new and well made. Yet, added he, none of you can tell where it pinches me.”
—Plutarch (c. 46120 A.D.)
“If you have a great passion it seems that the logical thing is to see the fruit of it, and the fruit are children.”
—Roman Polanski (b. 1933)