PROFILE
Name:
David Cronenberg
Birth Date:
March 15, 1943
Birth Place:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Height:
5' 9" (1.75 m)
Nationality:
Canadian
Famous for:
Dead Ringers' (1988)
BIOGRAPHY
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The Fly

Background:

Canadian director, screenwriter and occasional actor David Cronenberg came to fame in the 1970s thanks to his work on such films as “Shivers” (1975), “Rabid” (1977) and “The Brood” (1979). After “Scanners” (1981) and “Videodrome” (1983), he began gaining notice in America with his Hollywood debut “The Dead Zone” (1983), a thriller adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name. He also directed the box office hit “The Fly” (1986). Since then, Cronenberg has expanded his work beyond the horror and science fiction genres and moved away from graphic special effects to focus on character and theme. One of the most gripping contemporary directors working on English language films, Cronenberg also directed the critically praised films “Dead Ringers” (1988), “Naked Lunch” (1991), “Crash” (1996), “eXistenZ” (1999), “Spider” (2002), “A History of Violence” (2005) and “Eastern Promises” (2007).

“As filmmaker, I ask questions but don't have answers. Moviemaking is a philosophical exploration. I invite the audience to come on the journey and discover what they think and feel.” David Cronenberg

As an actor, Cronenberg is perhaps best recalled for playing Dr. Philip K. Decker in Clive Barker's “Nightbreed” (1990), Dr. Wimmer in “Jason X” (2001) and Dr. Brezzel in the television series “Alias” (2003).

Apart from countless awards and nominations he has earned for his work, Cronenberg was awarded the Time-Machine Honorary Award at the 2002 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival. Ha also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the 2005 Stockholm Film Festival and the Billy Wilder Award from the 2005 National Board of Review Awards. He was next honored with the Sonny Bono Visionary Award at the 2006 Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Golden Coach Award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

Cronenberg has been married twice. He and first wife Margaret Hindson (together from 1970 to 1977) have a daughter named Cassandra Cronenberg, who served as an assistant director trainee on three of her father's movies (“Naked Lunch,” “Mr. Butterfly” and “Crash”) and third assistant director on “eXistenZ.” He has been married to Carolyn Zeifman since 1979. They have two kids.


Science

Childhood and Family:

David Paul Cronenberg was born on March 15, 1943, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to a middle class Jewish family. His father, Milton Cronenberg, was a freelance journalist and his Dutch mother, Esther, was a piano teacher. An aspiring novelist, David wrote as a child and was influenced by William S. Burroughs and Vladimir Nabokov. He also enjoyed science and emerged as an honor science student at high school. He went on to study science at the University of Toronto, but grew bored with the classes and made the transformation to the English program prior to his second year. About the same time, he won an award for one of his original short stories.

David, who originally had no interest in film, became deeply affected with “Winter Kept Us Warm,” a student work by classmate David Secter. The short film subsequently ignited his curiosity and using his own money, David made his first short film, “Transfer,” in 1966.

In 1970, David married Margaret Hindson but they divorced in 1977. The marriage produced one child, Cassandra Cronenberg (born in 1972). David married his second wife, Carolyn Zeifman, in 1979. The couple has two children, son Brandon Cronenberg (born in 1985) and daughter Caitlin Cronenberg (born in 1991).


A History of Violence

Career:

“I have no rules. For me, it's a full, full experience to make a movie. It takes a lot of time, and I want there to be a lot of stuff in it. You're looking for every shot in the movie to have resonance and want it to be something you can see a second time and then I'd like it to be something you can see 10 years later and it becomes a different movie because you're a different person. So that means I want it to be deep, not in a pretentious way but I guess I can say I am pretentious in that I pretend. I have aspirations that the movie should trigger off a lot of complex responses.” David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg directed, wrote, shot and edited his first short, “Transfer” (1966), while he was a college student. It was followed by “From the Drain” (1967), a 16mm, 14 minute short he also wrote, directed, edited and shot. By 1969, he had made his first 35mm film with “Stereo,” a science fiction movie he produced, helmed, wrote, shot, and edited that starred Ronald Mlodzik. For his next art house film, “Crimes of the Future” (1970), also starring Mlodzik, Cronenberg earned funding from the Canadian Film Development Corporation (CFDC), an organization founded by the Canadian government to actively stimulate non-documentary film production in Canada. He continued to get financing from the government through the 1970s.

Cronenberg spent 1971 traveling to Europe on a Canadian Council Grant. While living in France, he directed, scripted and shot three fillers for television called “Letter from Michelangelo,” “Tourettes” and “Jim Ritchie Sculptor” (all 1971). After making six more fillers for TV (“ Winter Garden,” “Fort York,” “Scarborough Bluffs,” “Don Valley,” “Lakeshore” and “In the Dirt”) in 1972, he made his episodic television directing debut with “Secret Weapons” (also 1972) for the Canadian series “Programme X.” He returned to TV three years later when he directed two episodes of the Canadian short lived series “Peep Show” called “The Victim” and “The Lie Chair.”

It was also in 1975 that Cronenberg first made a commercial film with “Shivers,” for producer Ivan Reitman. The low budget horror flick, which he wrote and directed, brought Cronenberg a Medalla Sitges en Oro de Ley for Best Director at the 1975 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival. Despite creating controversy over its social and artistic value and effect on society, the film was considered the most profit-making Canadian film made to date in 1975. In 1977, Cronenberg directed and wrote his second full length feature film, “Rabid,” a horror movie starring Marilyn Chambers. He won a Medalla Sitges en Plata de Ley for Best Screenplay at the 1977 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival for the film.

Cronenberg next directed and co-scripted the drama “Fast Company” (1979). Through the film, he began collaboration with regular crew members such as cinematographer Mark Irwin, sound editor Bryan Day, film editor Ronald Sanders, and art director Carol Spier. Later that same year, he wrote and directed the horror film “The Brood,” which marked the filmmaker's first major success. Starring Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar and Art Hindle, it was nominated for five Genie Awards and won the Cronenberg Prize of the International Critics' Jury - Special Mention at the 1981 Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival.

Opening the 1980s, Cronenberg wrote and directed the horror flick “Scanners” (1981). Starring Jennifer O'Neill, Stephen Lack, Michael Ironside and Patrick McGoohan, the film was noted for its special effects and was a success at the box office where it grossed over $14 million. “Scanners” won the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films' Saturn Awards for Best International Film and Best Make-Up and an additional nomination for Best Special Effects. It won an International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film at the 1983 Fantasporto and was nominated for eight Genies, including Best Achievement in Direction and Best Screenplay, Original for Cronenberg.

In 1983, Cronenberg wrote and directed the psychological thriller “Videodrome,” which starred James Woods and singer Debbie Harry from Blondie. He won a 1994 Genie for Best Achievement in Direction and a Genie nomination for Best Screenplay as well as the Best Science-Fiction Film award from the 1984 Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. “Videodrome” marked Cronenberg's last original screenplay for 16 years. Later that same year, he directed Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt and Martin Sheen in the movie “The Dead Zone” (1983), which was the director's first Hollywood film. An adaptation of the 1979 novel of the same name by Stephen King, the movie won a Saturn for Best Horror Film, the Audience Award and Best Film at the 1984 Fantafestival, among other awards and nominations. “The Dead Zone” grossed more than $20 million domestically. With the film, Cronenberg made a name for himself in Hollywood and was flooded with offers.

In 1985, Cronenberg stepped in front of the camera as an actor in the John Landis drama “Into the Night,” which starred Jeff Goldblum, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dan Aykroyd. He returned to the director's chair for “The Fly” (1986), a big budget remake of the 1958 science fiction film of the same name. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and John Getz, the film was a huge hit with critics and audiences and won an Academy Award for Best Makeup, three Saturn Awards, including Best Horror Film, the Special Jury Award at the 1987 Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival and two BAFTA nominations, among other honors. Cronenberg also made a cameo appearance in the movie.

After “The Fly,” Cronenberg helmed “Dead Ringers” (1988), which starred Jeremy Irons in a dual role. The script, co-written by Cronenberg and Norman Snide, was based on the novel “Twins” by Bari Wood and Jack Geasland. “Dead Ringers” won Cronenberg Genies for Best Achievement in Direction, Best Screenplay, Adapted and Best Motion Picture, a Golden Horse for Best Foreign Director at the 1989 Golden Horse Film Festival, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association for Best Director, as well as the Grand Prize and C.S.T. Award at the 1989 Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival. He also earned a Saturn nomination for Best Writing and an International Fantasy Film nomination for Best Film. In addition to directing and writing, Cronenberg play a small role in the film.

Cronenberg made a comeback to the small screen by directing an episode of “Friday the 13th” called “Faith Healer,” which aired on February 8, 1988. He went on to direct two episodes of “Scales of Justice” named “Regina vs Horvath” and “Regina vs Logan” (both 1990). In 1991, Cronenberg directed and wrote “Naked Lunch,” based on William S Burroughs' novel of the same name. Starring Peter Weller, Judy Davis, and Ian Holm, the drama was nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear at the 1992 Berlin International Film Festival and won National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay, a Genie Award for Best Achievement in Direction, a Boston Society of Film Critics award for Best Screenplay, a New York Film Critics Circle for Best Screenplay, and an International Fantasy Film nomination for Best Film.

Cronenberg was reunited with Jeremy Irons for his film “Mr. Butterfly” (1993), which also starred John Lone, Barbara Sukowa and Ian Richardson. David Henry Hwang provided the script for the film which he adapted from his play of the same title. Three years later, he wrote and directed the Canadian/British drama “Crash” (1996), based on the 1973 novel of the same name by J. G. Ballard. It was nominated for the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival, but ended up winning the Jury Special Prize. It also brought Cronenberg extensive recognition at the 1996 Genie Awards where he took home Best Achievement in Direction and Best Screenplay, Adapted categories, as well as the Golden Reel Award.

The Toronto native followed “Crash” with “eXistenZ” (1999), which he directed, wrote (marked his first original script in over one and a half decades) and also produced. The psychological thriller, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law, received primarily favorable reviews and was nominated for the Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, where Cronenberg won the Silver Berlin Bear for Outstanding Artistic Achievement. Cronenberg also won the Silver Scream Award from the 1999 Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival and a Chlotrudis nomination for Best Screenplay, among other nominations.

In between his directing work, Cronenberg took on a number of acting roles. In 1990, he portrayed the role of Dr. Philip K. Decker in Clive Baker's horror film “Nightbreed.” It was followed with appearances in the films “Blue” (1992), “Boozecan” (1994, directed by Nicholas Campbell), “Henry & Verlin” (1994), “Trial by Jury,” (1994), “To Die For” (1995), “Blood & Donuts” (1995), “Moonshine Highway” (1996, TV), “The Stupids” (1996), “Extreme Measures” (1996), “The Grace of God” (1997), “Last Night”(1997) and “Resurrection” (1999, directed by Russell Mulcahy and starred Christopher Lambert).

After writing and directing a short film called “Camera” (2000), made in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival, Cronenberg played Detective Stobel in the TV film “The Judge” (2001), based on Steve Martini's book, and had the significant supporting role of Dr. Wimmer in “Jason X” (2001), a horror film directed by James Isaac that starred Kane Hodder. In 2003, he had a recurring role on the ABC series “Alias.”

Cronenberg helmed Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson and Gabriel Byrne in psychological thriller “Spider” (2002), adapted from the Patrick McGrath novel of the same name. Premiering at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, the film earned positive reviews and won the director the Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival, a Genie for Best Achievement in Direction, a Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival for Best Director, the Craft Award for Outstanding Achievement in Direction - Feature Film and the Team Award for Outstanding Achievement in a Feature Film at the 2003 Directors Guild of Canada Awards.

Following “Spider,” Cronenberg directed Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt in the thriller “A History of Violence” (2005), which was based on the graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke. The film received rave reviews from critics and was nominated for two Oscars. For his directing effort, Cronenberg was handed a Toronto Film Critics Association Award, an Online Film Critics Society Award, a National Society of Film Critics Award, a Directors Guild of Canada Award, a Chicago Film Critics Association Award and a Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award. He also won a Bodil for Best American Film, the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics' Critics Award for Best Foreign Film, and a Sant Jordi for Best Foreign Film.

“I think you come away with it thinking that violence is an unfortunate but very real and unavoidable part of human existence. But we don't turn away from it and you can't really say that it's never justified. You can say that it's never very attractive though and I think that that's perhaps the approach that we've taken.” David Cronenberg (on “A History of Violence”)

In 2007, Cronenberg directed Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel in the dramatic film “Eastern Promises,” which was written by Steven Knight. The movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Mortensen) and Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Original Score - Motion Picture (Howard Shore) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama. Cronenberg netted the People's Choice Award at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, a Vancouver Film Critics Circle for Best Director in a Canadian Film, a Sant Jordi for Best Foreign Film (Mejor Película Extranjera), a Fotogramas de Plata for Best Foreign Film, the Team Award for Feature Film and the Craft Award for Direction - Feature Film at the Directors Guild of Canada Awards.

Cronenberg is set to play Dr. Leichman in an episode of the ABC upcoming series “Happy Town” called “Polly Wants a Crack at Her.”


Awards:

  • Directors Guild of Canada (DGC): Craft Award, Direction - Feature Film, “Eastern Promises,” 2008

  • Directors Guild of Canada (DGC): Team Award, Feature Film, “Eastern Promises,” 2008

  • Fotogramas de Plata: Best Foreign Film (Mejor Película Extranjera), “Eastern Promises,” 2008

  • Sant Jordi: Best Foreign Film (Mejor Película Extranjera), “Eastern Promises,” 2008

  • Vancouver Film Critics Circle (VFCC): Best Director in a Canadian Film, “Eastern Promises,” 2008

  • Toronto International Film Festival: People's Choice Award, “Eastern Promises,” 2007

  • Cannes Film Festival: Golden Coach, 2006

  • Palm Springs International Film Festival: Sonny Bono Visionary Award, 2006

  • Bodil: Best American Film, “A History of Violence,” 2006

  • Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA): Best Direction, “A History of Violence,” 2006

  • Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA): Best Director, “A History of Violence,” 2006

  • Directors Guild of Canada (DGC): Craft Award, Outstanding Direction - Feature Film, “A History of Violence,” 2006

  • French Syndicate of Cinema Critics: Critics Award, Best Foreign Film, “A History of Violence,” 2006

  • National Society of Film Critics (NSFC): Best Director, “A History of Violence,” 2006

  • Online Film Critics Society (OFCS): Best Director, “A History of Violence,” 2006

  • Sant Jordi: Best Foreign Film (Mejor Película Extranjera), “A History of Violence,” 2006

  • Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA): Best Director, “A History of Violence,” 2005

  • National Board of Review: Billy Wilder Award, 2005

  • Stockholm Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2005

  • Directors Guild of Canada (DGC): Craft Award, Outstanding Achievement in Direction - Feature Film, “Spider,” 2003

  • Directors Guild of Canada (DGC): Team Award, Outstanding Achievement in a Feature Film, “Spider,” 2003

  • Genie: Best Achievement in Direction, “Spider,” 2003

  • Flanders International Film Festival: Special Jury Prize, 2002

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Best Director, “Spider,” 2002

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Time-Machine Honorary Award, 2002

  • Toronto International Film Festival: Best Canadian Feature Film, “Spider,” 2002

  • Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival: Silver Scream Award, “eXistenZ,” 1999

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Outstanding Artistic Achievement, “eXistenZ,” 1999

  • Cannes Film Festival: Jury Special Prize, “Crash,” 1996

  • Genie: Best Achievement in Direction, “Crash,” 1996

  • Genie: Best Screenplay, Adapted, “Crash,” 1996

  • Genie: Golden Reel Award, “Crash,” 1996

  • National Society of Film Critics (NSFC): Best Director, “Naked Lunch,” 1992

  • National Society of Film Critics (NSFC): Best Screenplay, “Naked Lunch,” 1992

  • Genie: Best Achievement in Direction, “Naked Lunch,” 1992

  • Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC): Best Screenplay, “Naked Lunch,” 1991

  • New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC): Best Screenplay, “Naked Lunch,” 1991

  • Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: C.S.T. Award, “Dead Ringers,” 1989

  • Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: Grand Prize, “Dead Ringers,” 1989

  • Genie: Best Achievement in Direction, “Dead Ringers,” 1989

  • Genie: Best Motion Picture, “Dead Ringers,” 1989

  • Genie: Best Screenplay, Adapted, “Dead Ringers,” 1989

  • Golden Horse Film Festival: Golden Horse Award, Best Foreign Director, “Dead Ringers,” 1989

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Director, “Dead Ringers,” 1988

  • Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: Special Jury Award, “The Fly,” 1987

  • Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: Antennae II Award, “The Dead Zone,” 1984

  • Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: Critics Award, “The Dead Zone,” 1984

  • Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival: Suspense Award, “The Dead Zone,” 1984

  • Fantafestival: Audience Award, “The Dead Zone,” 1984

  • Fantafestival: Best Film, “The Dead Zone,” 1984

  • Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film: Best Science-Fiction Film, “Videodrome,” 1984

  • Genie: Best Achievement in Direction, “Videodrome,” 1984

  • Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award, Best Film, “Scanners,” 1983

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Prize of the International Critics' Jury - Special Mention, “The Brood,” 1981

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Medalla Sitges en Plata de Ley, Best Screenplay, “Rabid,” 1977

  • Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival: Medalla Sitges en Oro de Ley, Best Director, “Shivers,” 1975

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