Figgis has emerged as a visionary filmmaker who thrives on taking risks. Figgis has roots in experimental theatre and music, which are just two primary influences that contribute to the creative vision in all of his feature films and documentaries. Although he has been at the helm of such mainstream movies as Internal Affairs with Richard Gere, the British born filmmaker has exhibited his more eclectic personal style in such films as Stormy Monday and Liebestraum.
Born in Carlisle, England, Figgis moved to Nairobi, Kenya as a baby. He lived there until his family relocated to Newcastle in the north of England when he was eight. As a teenager, he started playing trumpet and guitar with various rock and roll bands, one of which was the R&B group Gas Board, featuring British pop star Brian Ferry.
Moving to London, Figgis studied music for three years and began playing with The People Show (the group would later make a cameo appearance in Stormy Monday as the Krakow Jazz Ensemble). The People Band made one album for Transatlantic Records, this being produced by Rolling Stone drummer Charlie Watts.
In 1980, Figgis left The People Show to concentrate on writing and directing theatre, as well as to break into film. He formed his own theatre company, The Mike Figgis Group, and began creating multi-media productions, which included extensive use of film. Some of his earliest projects, including Redhugh 1980, Slow Fade and Animals of the City, won awards for their innovative blend of live action with music and film. This first caught the eye of England's Channel Four, which then financed Figgis' first film, The House, which starred Steven Rea (The Crying Game).
Stormy Monday was Figgis' next film that marked his emergence into full-length features. Figgis wrote, directed and scored the movie that was set in Newcastle's steamy jazz club world and boasted an impressive cast, including Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones and Sting. He then made an impressive entrance into American films by directing and co-scoring Internal Affairs, starring Richard Gere and Andy Garcia.
Kim Novak came out of early retirement to star in Figgis's next film, Liebestraum, a dark thriller written, directed and scored by Figgis. He then went on to direct Mr. Jones, pairing Richard Gere and Lena Olin, and The Browning Version starring Albert Finney and Greta Scacchi. In addition, Figgis wrote and directed the HBO film Mara, based on Henry Miller's short story, starring Juliet Binoche and Scott Glenn.
In 1996 Figgis achieved international critical acclaim for his film Leaving Las Vegas, starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue, which he wrote, directed and scored. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, and Nicolas Cage won Best Actor for his portrayal of the alcoholic screenwriter Ben Sanderson.
In the same year Figgis wrote, directed and scored another film, One Night Stand, that has been released internationally. The film, starring Wesley Snipes, Nastassja Kinski and Robert Downey Jr. has received a great deal of international attention and won Wesley Snipes Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival.
Figgis has also directed documentaries on English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and on avant-garde ballet choreographer William Forsythe for Channel 4 in England. Figgis's last documentary Flamenco Women, shot in Madrid, was broadcast on Channel 4 last April and Dutch broadcaster VPRO in December 1997.
His next film, The Loss of Sexual Innocence, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and stars Julian Sands, Saffron Burrows, Stefano Dionisi and Kelly MacDonald. The film was also selected for the Berlin Film Festival. His most recent film, Miss Julie, is a spare, minimalist, emotionally provocative adaptation of August Strindberg's classic play of social and sexual tensions. Starring Saffron Burrowns and Peter Mullan, the film features hand-held 16mm photography and the split-screen technique that inspired the creation of Time Code.
Figgis has also recently turned his talents to the publishing world with Projections 10 – Hollywood Filmmakers on Filmmaking, a series of real conversations with actors, directors, writers, managers and agents that probe the workings and mores of the Hollywood system and its driving monetary forces. The rare collection includes Figgis's interviews with Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Michael de Luca, Mickey Rourke, Salma Hayek, Paul Thomas Anderson and many others.
Those interviews and others are also featured in Figgis's Hollywood Conversations, a 20-part television series for England's Channel Four, independently financed by Figgis.
Mike Figgis Facts
|Birth Name||Michael Figgis|
|Birthday||February 28, 1948 (69)|
|Birthplace||Carlisle, Cumbria, England, United Kingdom|
|Leaving Las Vegas|
|Cold Creek Manor|
|Cherry 2000 / Stormy Monday|
|The Browning Version|