Oscar Directors: Abrahamson, Lenny–Background, Career, Awards, Filmography (Cum Advantage; Emmy Nom)

Research in Progress (August 8, 2020)

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Lenny Abrahamson Career Summation

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class: middle; father solicitor; grandfather physician

Race/Ethnicity: Jewish (born); atheist

Nationality: Irish

Formal Education:


First Film: Adam & Paul, 2004, age 38

First Oscar Nomination: Room, 2015; age 49

Gap between First Film and First Nom: 11 years

Other Nominations: No

Oscar Awards/Noms: Emmy

Other Awards: Six Irish Film and TV Awards

Nominations Span: NA

Genre (specialties):

Collaborators: co-writer of first two films

Last Film: NA


Career Output: 6 features

Career Span: 2004-present

Marriage: film studies teacher


Death: NA

Leonard Ian Abrahamson (born November 30, 1966), the Irish film director and screenwriter is known for helming such acclaimed indies as Adam & Paul (2004), Garage (2007), What Richard Did (2012) and Frank (2014), which contributed to six Irish Film and TV Awards.

In 2015, he received widespread recognition for directing Room, based on the novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue. The film received four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Abrahamson.

In 2020, he directed 6 episodes of the TV series “Normal People,” for which he was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series.

Abrahamson was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Edna (nėe Walzman) and Max Abrahamson, a solicitor. He was raised Jewish and had Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Both sides of his family were originally from Eastern Europe, including Poland. His grandfather was surgeon Leonard Abrahamson.

He was educated at The High School and Trinity College Dublin, where he was elected a scholar in philosophy in 1988, having transferred after a year of studying theoretical physics.

Abrahamson was offered scholarship to study for PhD in Philosophy in Stanford University. He did not complete his studies and returned to Ireland to take up filmmaking, initially directing commercials, a popular series of ads for Carlsberg.

His first film was Adam & Paul, a black comedy that featured heroin addicts as they made their way around Dublin in search of  fix.

In 2007, he directed Garage, starring Pat Shortt as a lonely petrol station attendant in rural Ireland. Both films won the IFTA award for best film.

Also in 2007, RTÉ screened Abrahamson’s four-part TV miniseries “Prosperity,” which was written in collaboration with Mark O’Halloran, co-writer of Adam and Paul and Garage. Like these two films, Prosperity focused on people on the fringes of Irish society, with each one-hour episode focusing on a specific character, including an alcoholic, a single mother, and an asylum seeker.

Prosperity was nominated for six Irish Film and Television Awards in 2008 and won Best Directing for Lenny Abrahamson, and Best Script for Mark O’Halloran.

In 2012, he won his third IFTA for best film with What Richard Did.

On December 2012, Abrahamson announced that he was working on a UK film called Frank which is set in Britain, Ireland and the USA. “It’s a comedy about a young musician who joins an eccentric band led by an enigmatic singer called Frank. It’s a kind of road movie, strange, funny and quite original.”

Abrahamson directed the film Frank, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Fest. The film is about an eccentric musician modeled after Frank Sidebottom. It stars Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

He next adaptation Emma Donoghue’s novel, Room (2015), for which he received his first Best Director Oscar nomination.

The film was successful, both critically and commercially.

Abrahamson plans to direct an adaptation of Laird Hunt’s Civil War novel Neverhome.

In 2015, Abrahamson was working on A Man’s World, a film based on Emile Griffith’s boxing rivalry with Benny Paret.

In 2016, Abrahamson was attached to direct Neal Bascomb’s upcoming book The Grand Escape, a true story of three daredevil World War I pilots being held in Germany’s infamous POW prison. The story chronicles WWI’s greatest mass prison escape, and the pilots’ subsequent flight to freedom.

Abrahamson is married to Monika Pamula, a Polish-born film studies teacher; the couple have two children.

Abrahamson is an atheist.



3 Joes (1991; short film)

Adam & Paul (2004)
Garage (2007)
What Richard Did (2012)
Frank (2014)
Room (2015)
The Little Stranger (2018)

Prosperity (2007)
Chance (2016; 2 episodes; also executive producer)
Normal People (2020; 6 episodes; also executive producer)

Carlsberg (2006)
Meteor (2009)