Scott, Ridley: Career

Ridley Scott, the director and producer of “A Good Year,” earned consecutive Academy Award nominations as Best Director for his stunning recreation of the deadly 1993 battle in Mogadishu, Somalia, in Black Hawk Down (one of 2001s biggest box-office hits) and for the epic adventure Gladiator, his vivid and dramatic evocation of ancient Rome that won five Oscars (out of twelve nominations), including Best Picture and Best Actor for Russell Crowe (as well as directing nominations for Scott from the DGA and BAFTA).

Gladiator also won both the Golden Globe and British Academy Awards as Best Picture, and has earned over $800 million at the global box office. Both motion picture triumphs further solidified his reputation as one of contemporary cinemas most innovative, influential and versatile visual stylists.

Scott was born in South Shields, Northumberland, England. Reared in London, Cumbria, Wales and Germany, he returned to Northeast England to live in Stockton-on-Tees. He studied at the West Hartlepool College of Art where he excelled in graphic design and painting, two strengths that would later serve as his signatures on the movie screen. He also studied at Londons Royal Academy of Art, where his contemporaries included the famous artist David Hockney. During his studies there, Scott completed his first short film.

Graduating with honors, Scott was awarded a traveling scholarship to the United States. During his year there, he was employed by Time Life, Inc., where he gained valuable experience working with award-winning documentarians Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker. Upon his return to the U.K., he joined the BBC as a production designer and, within a year, graduated to directing many of the networks popular TV programs.

After three years, he left to form his own company, RSA, which soon became one of the most successful commercial production houses in Europe (later adding offices in New York and Los Angeles). Over the years, Scott has directed over three thousand commercials, including the captivating spot for Chanel No. 5 entitled Share the Fantasy and the memorable one for Apple Computers that aired but once, during the 1984 Super Bowl. His work in the commercial arena has collected awards at the Venice and Cannes Film Festivals, as well as being honored by the New York Art Directors Club. RSA still maintains a high profile in the global marketplace and represents some of the most acclaimed directors in the film and advertising arenas.

Scott made the leap from commercial production (pocket versions of feature films he calls them) to movies with 1977s The Duellists, the lustrous Napoleonic War saga that brought him the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. His second film switched genres, taking the filmmaker from the past into the frightening future with the groundbreaking sci-fi-thriller, Alien, which walked off with an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

He stayed in the future (and set the stage for future filmmakers) with his next feature, Blade Runner, the landmark masterpiece starring Harrison Ford that is considered one of the milestones of contemporary moviemaking. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards — art direction and visual effects. It was also added to the National Film Archives (maintained by the U.S. Library of Congress), the youngest film to be so honored.

Scott followed this triumph later in the decade with three more films — the big screen fairy tale, Legend, starring Tom Cruise; the urban thriller, Someone to Watch Over Me with Tom Berenger; and the cross-cultural gangster epic, Black Rain, starring Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia.

In 1987, Scott formed Percy Main Productions to develop and produce feature films. The first production, which he helmed, was Thelma and Louise. Starring Oscar-nominees Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, the film collected five Academy Award nominations, including Scotts first as director (the film won the Best Original Screenplay prize and was also nominated for two British Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director). He followed with 1492: Conquest of Paradise, his historical epic starring Gerard Depardieu as Christopher Columbus, and The Browning Version, produced by Scott and starring Albert Finney and Greta Scacchi.

In 1995, along with younger brother Tony (also a successful filmmaker), he formed Scott Free productions, which produced White Squall, with Jeff Bridges, G.I. Jane starring Demi Moore, and the blockbuster sequel, Hannibal, with Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore (all three directed by Ridley Scott). Scott Free also produced Clay Pigeons and Where the Money Is, a caper comedy starring Paul Newman.

Scott directed his own caper comedy, Matchstick Men, starring Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell, and the epic story of the Crusades, Kingdom of Heaven, which toplined Orlando Bloom and Jeremy Irons. He will once again step behind the cameras on the gritty Harlem-set drama, American Gangster, reteaming with actor Crowe and collaborating with Oscar-winner Denzel Washington for the first time.

Scott also recently executive produced Kevin Reynolds costume epic, Tristan & Isolde; Curtis Hansons family drama In Her Shoes; and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck.

The company also produced Showtimes CableACE-winning anthology series The Hunger (adapted from Tony Scotts 1983 film) and the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning HBO telefilm, RKO 281, starring Liev Schreiber as Orson Welles in the docudrama recreating the making of Citizen Kane. Scott Free also executive produced The Gathering Storm for HBO, the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning telefilm (Best Made for Television Movie) depicting the life of Winston Churchill that starred Emmy-winning Best Actor Albert Finney and Emmy nominee Vanessa Redgrave. The company also recently signed a two-year deal with CBS to develop up to three projects for the network, the first of which is the acclaimed drama Numb3rs.

The film director was involved in the combining of the two preeminent European film studios, Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios into a studio complex which houses forty-two stages, backlots and locations as well as award-winning post-production and production support services. Scott originally filmed Alien at this facility. Ridley together with his brother Tony Scott were part of the consortium which purchased Shepperton Studios in 1995 which subsequently merged with Pinewood in 2001.

In recognition for his contributions to the arts, Scott was awarded knighthood in 2003 from the Order of the British Empire.