Directors: Forsyth, Bill–Scottish Director, Background, Career, Awards

Bill Forsyth is a Scottish film director and writer known for Gregory’s Girl (1981), Local Hero (1983) and Comfort and Joy (1984).

William David Forsyth was born July 29, 1946 in Glasgow, Scotland. After leaving Knightswood School at the age of 17, he spent 8 years making short documentaries, having formed Tree Films with fellow Scotsman Charles Gormley.

Forsyth first came to attention with low-budget film, That Sinking Feeling, made with youth theatre actors and featuring a cameo appearance by the Edinburgh gallery owner Richard Demarco.

The relative success of the film was carried to higher level by his next film Gregory’s Girl in 1981. This featured some of the same young actors, John Gordon Sinclair, as well as the debut of Clare Grogan. The film was a major hit and won ‘Best Screenplay’ in that year’s BAFTA Awards.

In 1983 he wrote and directed the successful Local Hero, produced by David Puttnam, and featuring Burt Lancaster.

Forsyth’s next film was the 1984 Comfort and Joy, about a Glasgow radio DJ caught in a rivalry between ice cream companies, which again featured Clare Grogan.

After Puttnam became the chair of Columbia Pictures, he financed Forsyth’s American debut, Housekeeping, adaptation of Marilynne Robinson’s 1981 novel. It was the first time Forsyth made a film based on another work. By the time it was released in November 1987, Puttnam was fired from Columbia, and the film was given minimal promotion. Despite lack of financial success, Housekeeping did find critical acclaim and its reputation has continued to grow.

Breaking In, was another departure, this time based on original script written by John Sayles. Despite the scale wages for the lead role, Forsyth was able to cast Burt Reynolds who liked the script. Once again, the critical acclaim for Forsyth’s work was not met with financial success.

Forsyth would team with Warner on Being Human (1994), starring Robin Williams and featuring John Turturro. The film was about a man developing throughout his life with scenes from pre-history, Ancient Rome, 16th-century Spanish conquistadors and modern-day New York City.

The film received largely negative reviews, which led to Bill Forsyth’s career end.

In 1999 he made Gregory’s Two Girls as a sequel to Gregory’s Girl, with John Gordon Sinclair playing the same character.


1979 That Sinking Feeling Yes Yes Yes
1980 Gregory’s Girl Yes, BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Direction
1981 Andrina–TV film
1983 Local Hero Yes Yes No BAFTA Award for Best Direction, Best Screenplay from National Society of Film Critics and New York Film Critics Circle.
1984 Comfort and Joy, Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
1987 Housekeeping
1989 Breaking IN
1994 Being Human
1999 Gregory’s Two Girls