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Biography #2 (for Matchstick Men)

SIR Ridley Scott recently earned his third Academy Award nomination and second Directors Guild nod as Best Director for his stunning recreation of the Mogadishu Battle in Somalia in Black Hawk Down, one of 2001's biggest hits. The year previous, he received his second Academy nomination for Gladiator, which won five Oscars out of a total 12 nominations, including Best Picture, and earned Scott additional nominations from BAFTA and the Directors Guild. Gladiator also won Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards for Best Picture, further solidifying Scott's reputation as one of the industry's most innovative, influential and versatile stylists.

Born in South Shields, Northumberland, England, Scott grew up in London, Cumbria, Wales and Germany before returning to Northeast England to live in Stockton-on-Tees. He excelled in graphic design and painting at West Hartlepool College of Art, strengths that would later serve as his screen signature, and studied at London's Royal Academy of Art, where he completed his first film. Upon graduating with honors, Scott was awarded a traveling scholarship to the U.S., where he gained valuable experience working with award-winning documentarians Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker while employed at Time Life. Returning to the U.K., he joined the BBC as a production designer and, within a year, graduated to directing many of the network's popular television programs.

Three years later he left to form his own company, RSA, which soon became one of the most successful commercial production houses in Europe and subsequently added offices in New York and Los Angeles. Scott directed more than 3,000 commercials, including Channel's captivating Share the Fantasy and a memorable Apple Computer spot aired during the 1984 Super Bowl. His work collected awards at the Venice and Cannes Film Festivals and was honored by the New York Art Directors' Club. RSA still maintains a high profile in the global marketplace, representing some of the most acclaimed directors in film and advertising.

Scott leapt from commercial production to movies in 1978 with The Duellists, a Napoleonic War saga that brought him the Jury Prize at Cannes. His second film, the groundbreaking sci-fi thriller Alien, switched gears from the past to the frightening future and earned an Oscar for Visual Effects. Scott's next feature, the landmark masterpiece Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford, is still considered a milestone of contemporary filmmaking. Nominated by the Academy for art direction and visual effects, it became the youngest film to be honored by inclusion in the National Film Archives.

Scott went on to direct the big screen fantasy Legend, starring Tom Cruise, the urban thriller Someone to Watch Over Me, with Tom Berenger, and the cross-cultural gangster epic Black Rain, with Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia. In 1987 he formed Percy Main Productions to develop and produce feature films. Its first project, which he helmed, was Thelma & Louise, starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis. The film received five Academy Award nominations, including Scott's first as Best Director, won for Best Original Screenplay, and picked up BAFTA nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. He followed with the historic epic 1492: Conquest of Paradise and The Browning Version, produced by Scott and starring Albert Finney and Greta Scacchi.

In 1995, with brother Tony (also a successful filmmaker), he formed Scott Free Productions, which produced White Squall, G.I. Jane and the blockbuster sequel Hannibal, all directed by Scott, as well as Clay Pigeons and Where the Money Is, the caper comedy starring Paul Newman. Among their upcoming projects is the historical drama Tripoli, set in the 1800s, starring Russell Crowe and Ben Kingsley, to be directed by Scott.

The company also produced Showtime's CableACE-winning anthology series The Hunger, adapted from Tony Scott's 1983 film, and the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning HBO telefilm RKO 281, starring Liev Schreiber as Orson Welles. Scott Free also executive produced The Gathering Storm for HBO, an Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning telefilm depicting the life of Winston Churchill. Scott Free Productions recently signed a two-year development deal with CBS.

Scott is Co-Chairman of Mill Film, one of the largest digital production and post-production houses in London. Founded in 1987, it boasts involvement in the visual effects of such features as Shakespeare in Love, Babe: Pig in the City, Pitch Black, Cats & Dogs, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and dozens more. Mill Film was recognized with an Academy Award for their visual effects on Scott's Gladiator. He is also Co-Chairman of Pinewood-Shepperton Holdings, Ltd., a London facility where Alien was filmed and that provides 42 stages, backlots and locations plus award-winning post-production and support services. The Scott brothers (as part of a consortium) purchased Shepperton Studios in 1995, which merged with Pinewood Studios in 2001.

In recognition of his contribution to the arts, Scott was awarded knighthood in January 2003.

Bio courtesy Warner Bros. for "Matchstick Men" (02-Dec-2003)


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