Tom Stoppard

Playwright, Screenwriter, Director
Celebrated for his verbal acrobatics and madcap intellectual conceits, playwright Tom Stoppard was also one of the more prolific script doctors in Hollywood for decades. After bursting onto the London theatre scene in ... Read more »
Born: 07/02/1937

Filmography

Writer (24)

Squaring the Circle 2014 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Tulip Fever 2014 (Movie)

(adaptation) (Screenplay)

Anna Karenina 2012 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Enigma 2002 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Vatel 2000 (Movie)

screenplay adaptation(English translation) (Screenplay)

Vatel 2000 (Movie)

screenplay adaptation(English translation) (Screenplay)

Vatel 2000 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Sleepy Hollow 1999 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Shakespeare in Love 1998 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Three Men in a Boat 1993 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Billy Bathgate 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 1991 (Movie)

(Play as Source Material)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 1991 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Russia House 1990 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Vaclav Havel's Largo Desolato 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Writer

Empire of the Sun 1987 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

On the Razzle 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Writer

Brazil 1985 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Human Factor 1980 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Professional Foul 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Play as Source Material

Despair 1977 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Romantic Englishwoman 1974 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Engagement 1969 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Poodle Springs (TV Show)

Screenplay
Actor (4)

Wilde Salome 2014 (Movie)

(Actor)

Changing Stages 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor
Director (1)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 1991 (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (1)

Parade's End 2012 - 2013 (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Biography

Celebrated for his verbal acrobatics and madcap intellectual conceits, playwright Tom Stoppard was also one of the more prolific script doctors in Hollywood for decades. After bursting onto the London theatre scene in the late 1960s with his absurdist masterpiece "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead," Stoppard established himself as a linguistic gymnast with farces like "Travesties" (1974) prior to addressing more serious concerns in such plays as "Night and Day' (1978). The playwright soon made a name for himself adapting literary works to film with projects like novelist Graham Greene's "The Human Factor" (1979). Eventually moving on to original script work, Stoppard collaborated on Terry Gilliam's cult classic "Brazil" (1985) and even provided uncredited work on director Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989). He received high marks with his directorial debut for the film version of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" (1990) and 25 years after his first stage hit, proved he was still a vibrant voice in the theater with the intellectual drama "Arcadia" (1993). Director John Madden's "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) earned him both mainstream success and an Academy Award. The recently knighted Sir Stoppard later penned a screen version of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" (2012) for an ambitious undertaking starring Keira Knightly in the title role. Defying easy categorization, Stoppard constantly pushed himself as an artist even as he enjoyed the fruits of his more commercial labors.<p>Born Tomáš Straüssler on July 3, 1937 in Zlín, Czechoslovakia, he was the son of Martha Beckova and Eugen Straüssler, a doctor employed with the Bata shoe company, as were most of the small town's residents. Although neither was practicing, the fact that the Straüsslers were Jewish prompted their departure once the Germans began their occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Like many of his coworkers, Eugen sought refuge for his family at another Bata company location in Singapore. Before long, however, the Japanese invasion of that country forced the doctor to place his wife and two sons on board a freighter bound for Austria. Knowing that his services would be needed in Singapore, Eugen remained behind, only to die in the conflict some time later. Evacuated to Darjeeling, India with his mother and brother, the five-year-old Tomáš began attending the American influenced, co-educational Mount Hermon School, where he soon altered his name to the Anglicized Tom. Picking up the English language came easily to Tom, whose mother remarried to a British major named Kenneth Stoppard in 1945. The following year, the Stoppard family relocated to England and Tom continued his education at the Dolphin School in Nottinghamshire, completing his studies at Pocklington School in East Riding, Yorkshire. A degree at university, however, was not in the cards for Stoppard, who chose instead to enter a career in journalism in 1954.<p>Hired on as a journalist with the <i>Western Daily Press</i> in Bristol, the 17-year-old Stoppard began to hone his skills as a writer, although the minutia of reporting interested him little. In 1958, he was offered a position as feature writer, humorist and theater critic at the <i>Bristol Evening World</i> and it was there that he struck up a friendship with the young actor Peter O'Toole, who was making a name for himself on the stage of the Bristol Old Vic. Moving to London, Stoppard became a drama critic for the short-lived <i>Scene</i> magazine and began pursuing work as a freelance writer for radio and television. His first novel, <i>Lord Malquist and Mr. Moon</i> was published to little fanfare at around this time as well. Based on the response to his first stage play, "A Walk on the Water" - which was staged in Hamburg and later adapted for British television - Stoppard received a Ford Foundation grant that enabled him to write the play that would become "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead." Soon after it was first presented, the playful, breathlessly inventive "Hamlet" reinterpretation in the absurdist tradition of Beckett and Pinter made a name for Stoppard, even as it left many in the audience scratching their collective heads.<p>In the meantime, Stoppard made strides in his television efforts, scripting small screen adaptations of his early dramas "A Separate Peace" (BBC, 1966) and "Another Moon Called Earth" (BBC, 1967).That same year, an opening of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" at the revered Old Vic Theatre, suddenly made the struggling dramatist an overnight sensation. The following year, the playwright won his first Tony Award after the play enjoyed a successful run on Broadway. Stoppard consolidated his reputation with the philosophical whodunit "Jumpers" (1972) and the Wildean historical farce "Travesties" (1974), with the latter earning him another Tony. With his first work on a feature film, Stoppard set a precedent of collaborating with authors on adaptions of their own work, as he did with Thomas Wiseman for director Joseph Losey's "The Romantic Englishwoman" (1975). Though he had professed a desire to write a film of his own, Stoppard typically utilized his story ideas for stage plays, initially preferring to adapt the works of novelists like Jerome K. Jerome's travelogue "Three Men in a Boat" (1975), starring Tim Curry and Michael Palin. One of the criticisms frequently leveled at Stoppard had been that he employed his linguistic virtuosity strictly in an effort to entertain and impress, with no effort made to explore deeper subject matter. In response, the playwright demonstrated his global conscience when he attacked Soviet Europe's treatment of its workers in 1977's "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" - play with music by Andre Previn - and skillfully satirized ethics (or lack thereof) in the field of journalism with the acclaimed "Night and Day" the following year.<p>For film, however, Stoppard stuck to his practice of interpreting existing works of literature, including an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's "Despair" (1978) for German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and an updating of Graham Greene's Cold War thriller "The Human Factor" (1979) with revered filmmaker Otto Preminger. As a playwright, Stoppard continued to enhance his reputation as England's preeminent man of words with such award-winning works as the contemporary love story "The Real Thing" (1982), which exposed a more personal, emotional side of the author than ever before. Breaking from his own cinematic tradition, Stoppard collaborated with Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam on the original screenplay of the eccentric filmmaker's Kafkaesque dark fantasy "Brazil" (1985) and earned himself an Oscar nomination for his efforts. Stoppard continued to loan out his talents as a work-for-hire artist in Hollywood for much of the decade, which saw little from the playwright in terms of theatrical output. He was director Steven Spielberg's choice to adapt J. G. Ballard's World War II drama "Empire of the Sun" (1987), a reasonable notion given the writer's own early childhood in war torn Singapore. Less predictable was his uncredited work on the dialogue for Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989), which only made Stoppard harder to define and added to his mystique.<p>Making his directorial debut, Stoppard helmed his own film adaptation of "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" (1990) with rising stars Gary Oldman and Tim Roth in the title roles. More novel adaptations followed with a feature film version of John Le Carre's Soviet-set espionage tale "The Russia House" (1990), starring Sean Connery, and the Dustin Hoffman vehicle "Billy Bathgate" (1991), based on the mob novel by E.L. Doctorow. The stage play "Arcadia" (1993) - a tragi-comic exploration of truth, history and chaos theory - was seen not only as a triumph and return to form, but a next step in the grand evolutionary process of Stoppard as an artist. His "The Invention of Love" (1997), based on the life of English poet and classical scholar A.E. Housman, was full of the trademark Stoppard wit, but also raised questions about the crushing effect a rigid, overly righteous society has upon the individual whose leanings fall outside the accepted norm. For director Bob Rafelson, Stoppard scripted the TV movie adaptation of the private eye drama "Poodle Springs" (HBO, 1998) from crime novelist Robert B. Parker's posthumous collaboration with Raymond Chandler, who had left the novel unfinished at the time of his death.<p>Co-written with Marc Norman, director John Madden's "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) - a witty and romantic fictionalized account of a young William Shakespeare (Ralph Fiennes) wooing a headstrong maiden (Gwyneth Paltrow) as he attempts to write his greatest play - won Stoppard an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Long established as one of Great Britain's most valued artists, Stoppard - who had already been knighted in 1997 - was admitted to the country's Order of Merit in 2000. Stoppard later earned yet another Tony Award for Best Play with his 2002 trilogy of plays built around the philosophical debates of 19th century pre-revolutionary Russia, "The Coast of Utopia." Of all the classic literary works he had adapted for the screen, perhaps Stoppard's most ambitious undertaking was the epic "Anna Karenina" (2012), directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley as Tolstoy's 19th century heroine. And after 30 years away from British television, Stoppard returned to the medium to script and executive produce the miniseries "Parade's End" (BBC, 2012). Based on a set of novels by Ford Madox Ford, it starred Benedict Cumberbatch as a man dutifully enduring a loveless marriage amidst the turmoil of World War I.<p><i>By Bryce Coleman</i>

Relationships

Marie Helvin

Companion
Reportedly dated early 2001 No longer together

Jose Ingle

Wife
Married 1962 Divorced 1972

Felicity Kendal Actor

Companion
Kendal appeared in Stoppard's plays "Arcadia" (1993) and "Indian Ink" (1995) No longer together

Padma Lakshmi Actor

Companion
Briefly dated No longer together

Barny Stoppard Actor

Son

Ed Stoppard Actor

Son
Born Sept. 16, 1974; mother, Miriam Stoppard

Kenneth Stoppard

Step-Father
Former major Met Martha Straussler when she was working in India Died 1997

Miriam Stoppard

Wife
Moved in together 1970 Married 1972 Divorced 1992

Oliver Stoppard

Son
Mother, Jose Ingle

William Stoppard

Son
Mother, Miriam Stoppard Managed disc jockeys and music groups in England

Peter Stoppard

Brother
Older

Richard Stoppard

Half-Brother
Born 1949

Fiona Stoppard

Half-Sister
Born 1955

Eugene Straussler

Father
Jewish Worked as a doctor for a shoe company Died in enemy hands during WWII

Martha Straussler

Mother
Born 1911 After husband died during WWII, married British army officer Kenneth Stoppard November 1945 in India Died October 1996

EDUCATION

Attended English-speaking schools in India

Dolphin School

Nottinghamshire

Pocklington School

Milestones

2012

Returned to feature writing with adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina," directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley

2007

Saw NYC opening of "Rock 'n' Roll"; earned Tony nomination for Best Play

2007

Reportedly did uncredited rewrite on "The Bourne Ultimatum," a film based on Robert Ludlum's best-selling novel

2006

Premiered play "Rock 'n' Roll" at the Royal Court Theatre

2006

Opened trilogy "The Coast of Utopia" on Broadway

2002

Penned the trilogy "The Coast of Utopia," which focused on the philosophical debates in pre-revolutionary Russia between 1833 and 1866; plays entitled Voyage, Shipwreck, and Salvage, and totaled nine hours in length

2001

Penned the WWII-era spy drama "Enigma"; screened at Sundance

2001

"The Invention of Love" opened on Broadway; earned a Tony nomination

2000

Contributed English translation of the script for the period drama "Vatel"; screened at Cannes

1999

Reportedly did uncredited rewrite on Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow"

1998

Adapted Robert Parker's "Poodle Springs" as an HBO movie directed by Bob Rafelson

1998

Co-wrote award-winning screenplay "Shakespeare in Love"

1997

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II

1997

Wrote stage play "The Invention of Love" based on the life of English poet and classical scholar A. E. Housman

1995

NYC production of "Arcadia"; earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Play

1993

First production of "Arcadia" in London

1991

Scripted Robert Benton's "Billy Bathgate"; adapted from the E.L. Doctorow novel

1990

Adapted John Le Carre's novel "The Russia House" for the screen

1990

Using the language of his birth, translated Vaclav Havel's "Largo Desolato"

1990

Feature directorial debut, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead"

1987

Adapted J.G. Ballard's novel "Empire of the Sun" for the screen; directed by Steven Spielberg

1985

Received Oscar nomination for his contributions to the screenplay of "Brazil," co-written with Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown

1984

Picked up third Best Play Tony for "The Real Thing"

1979

Adapted Graham Greene's novel "The Human Factor" for the screen; last film directed by Otto Preminger

1978

Adapted the screenplay for "Despair" from the work by Vladimir Nabokov

1975

First feature screenplay, Joseph Losey's "The Romantic Englishwoman"; co-wrote with Thomas Wiseman from Wiseman's novel

1974

Had successful productions of "Travesties" in London and NYC; earned second Tony Award for Best Play

1973

Debuted as stage director with British production of "Born Yesterday"

1969

Wrote screenplay for 44-minute film "The Engagement"

1968

First London production of "The Real Inspector Hound"; performed as part of a 1972 double-bill with his "After Magritte" in NYC

1967

Breakthrough stage work, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead"; produced in both London and NYC; earned first Tony Award for Best Play

1965

First produced stage play, "The Gamblers" at Bristol's Old Vic Theatre

1964

Wrote first radio play, "The Dissolution of Dominic Boot"

1963

First play performed on British TV, "A Walk on Water"

1962

Briefly associated with Scene, a satirical magazine conceived by Peter Cook

1954

Worked as journalist for Western Daily Press in Bristol, England

1944

After mother's remarriage, family settled in Bristol, England

1941

Moved with mother and brother to India

1939

Fled Czechoslovakia with mother to live in Singapore because of Jewish heritage

Wrote for the Bristol Evening World

Was a freelance reporter

Bonus Trivia

.

Stoppard received a 1964 Ford Foundation Grant.

.

He was awarded the Prix Italia in 1968.

.

Stoppard was named Commander of the British Empire in 1978.

.

Stoppard received honorary degrees from Bristol in 1976, Brumel in 1979, and Leeds and Sussex, both in 1980.

.

"Actually, it doesn't interest me to try and simulate life in some more plausible way. There are some writers, for instance, who are far more fascinated by the differentiation of character, and I obviously have no interest in that. I'm only interested in the felicitous expression of ideas, and very often when I'm rewriting, it doesn't matter who says something – if I need those lines elsewhere I'll give them to a different character." – Stoppard quoted in Vanity Fair magazine, May 1989

.

"The press loved him because he was lucid and good-looking, and his look fit in very well with the Sixties. It was not the well-dressed, well-turned-out look of the Fifties; it was a sort of challenging look. And he did resemble Mick Jagger a bit. Young people loved him. It was astounding the way the Americans took to him." – Kenneth Ewing discussing Stoppard's early play writing career in Vanity Fair magazine, May 1989

.

"I think of myself as a theater animal instead of an intellectual animal. I love the nuts and bolts, the whole nuts and bolts of putting a play on with others. I'm a pushover for adjusting the play to the requirement of the moment. I find that part fun." – Stoppard to The Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1995

.

He was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2000.

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