PROFILE
Name:
Milos Forman
Birth Date:
February 18, 1932
Birth Place:
Cáslav, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic)
Nationality:
Czech
Famous for:
Oscar-winning director of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (1975)
BIOGRAPHY
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Background:

“Director is little bit of everything, little bit of the writer, little bit of an actor, little bit of an editor, little bit of a costume designer. Good director is the director who chooses for this profession people who are better than he is. Yes I can write, but I have to have a writer who is a better writer than I am. I have to have actors who are better actors than I am. I have to have sound engineers who are better sound engineer than I am. You know, it's a strange profession. Visually it's your vision.” Milos Forman

Two time Academy Award winning director, screenwriter and occasional actor Milos Forman began his directing career in his native Czechoslovakia in the 1960s and gained early notice for his work on “Black Peter” (1964), “The Loves of a Blonde” (1965) and “The Firemen's Ball” (1967). Making his promising American debut with “Taking off” (1971), for which he nabbed a Grand Prize of the Jury at Cannes and nominations at the BAFTA and WGA Awards, he, however, did not win his first Oscar until he directed the feature film adaptation of Ken Kesey's “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” (1975). Adding to his Oscar, Forman also received a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, a Directors Guild of America Award and a César nomination, among other honors. He won his second Oscar for directing the movie “Amadeus” (1986), from which he also picked up a Golden Globe Award, a César Award, a Directors Guild of America Award and a BAFTA nomination. Forman earned an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award for “The People vs. Larry Flynt” (1996), his first directorial effort since the ill fated “Valmont” (1989). His other directing credits include “Hair” (1979), “Ragtime” (1981), “Man on the Moon” (1999) and “Goya's Ghosts” (2006, also a writer). His new film, “The Ghost of Munich,” which he directed and co-wrote, is scheduled to be released in 2011. As an actor, Forman is perhaps best known for his roles in the films “Heartburn” (1986), “New Year's Day” (1989, as Lazlo) and “Keeping the Faith” (2000, as Father Havel).

Forman has been married three times. He has twin sons (Matej and Petr Forman) with second wife Vera Kresadlová (together form 1964 to 1999) and twin boys (Andrew and James Forman) with his current wife Martina Zborilova (married since 1999). He and his family now live in Connecticut. Forman was once romantically involved with actress Beverly D' Angelo, whom he met on the set of “Hair” (1979).


Jan Tomas

Childhood and Family:

Born Jan Tomas Forman on February 18, 1932, in Caslav, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), Milos Forman had a hard childhood. His father, Rudolf Forman, a professor of education, was arrested by Nazis in 1940 and died in the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1944. His mother, Anna Forman, a Protestant, was arrested by Nazis for suspicion of being Jewish or having Jewish blood and died in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943. After the arrest, Milos and his two older brothers, Blahoslav (born in 1917) and Pavel (born in 1919), were raised by relatives and friends of the family. Milos, who was introduced to the theater by his parents at an early age, became a movie lover after the occupation ended and dreamed of becoming a director or playwright. As a senior at Dejvice High School, he created a drama club and presented an original musical about Francois Villon that toured small halls near Prague. Following high school graduation, he applied to the Drama Institute at the University of Prague, but was declined. He then enrolled in the newly established Film Institute at the University Of Prague (FAMU). He graduated from the institute in 1955.

In 1958, Milos married Czech actress Jana Brejchová (born on January 20, 1940), but they divorced in 1962. He married Prague-born actress Vera Kresadlová (born on February 28, 1944) in 1964. The couple welcomed twin boys, Matej and Petr Forman, on August 24, 1964, but divorced 35 years later in 1999. Milos married Martina Zborilova on November 28, 1999, in Connecticut. Their twin sons, Andrew (named for Andy Kaufman) and James Forman (named for Jim Carrey), were born in October 1998. Milos has been a U.S. citizen since 1977.


Amadeus

Career:

While attending FAMU, Milos Forman directed documentaries for Czech television and contributed to the script for “Leave It to Me” (1955), a comedy directed by Martin Fric. After graduating, he joined the theater group Laterna Magika (Magic Lantern) as an assistant writer and collaborated with Alfred Radok on presentations that blended film with live actors to be performed for the 1958 Brussels World Fair. Although the work was a success, Forman and his partners were fired by the Czech government a few years later. Milos then served as first assistant director on the 1958 film “Cubs,” which he also co-wrote with director Ivo Novak. His first wife starred in the film as Marie Marková.

With support from Nikita Khrushchev, who helped liberalize the arts in the Soviet Union, Forman was able to direct his first film, “Competition” (1964, released in the US in 1968), a documentary focusing on musicians. The film also marked his first collaboration with screenwriter/director Ivan Passer, with whom he co-wrote the screenplay, and cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek. Later that same year, he was reunited with Passer for the screenplay of the 33 minute length documentary “Why Do We Need All the Brass Bands,” which he also directed, and directed and co-wrote (with Jaroslav Papousek) the drama film “Black Peter.” Released in Czechoslovakia on April 17, 1964, the film won Forman a Golden Sail for Feature Film at the 1964 Locarno International Film Festival and a Jussi for Best Foreign Director at the 1967 Jussi Awards.

In 1965, Forman directed the acclaimed Czech film “The Loves of a Blonde,” which he also co-wrote with Passer, Papousek and Václav Sasek. The feature premiered at the Venice Film Festival in August 1965 and earned a Golden Lion nomination at the festival. It received an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and a Golden Globe for Best Foreign-Language Film (both 1967). Forman won his next Jussi Award in the category of Best Foreign Director and a Bodil for Best European Film. He next helmed the based on play TV film “Worth While” (1966, co-written with Passer and Papousek) and directed the film “The Firemen's Ball” (1967), which was nominated for a 1969 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. “The Firemen's Ball” became the last film he would make in his native land of Czechoslovakia. He would stay in Paris until his move to New York City in 1969.

Initially rejected by Immigration, Forman eventually gained a green card to work as a director in the U.S. thanks to the lobbying help of notable directors such as Mike Nichols and Sidney Lumet. His Hollywood feature film debut, “Taking off,” a comedy about a group of parents that he directed and co-wrote, was released in New York City on March 28, 1971, and won him a Grand Prize of the Jury and Golden Palm nomination at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. He also picked up BAFTA nominations for Best Direction and Best Screenplay, a Bodil Award for Best Non-European Film and a Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen. Also in 1971, Forman became the subject of Mira Weingarten's documentary short “Meeting Milos Forman.”

After contributing to the 1973 documentary “Visions of Eight” with seven other directors, Forman experienced a huge breakthrough with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” (1975), an adaptation of the Ken Kesey 1962 novel of the same name that starred Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. Produced by Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas, the film earned positive reviews from critics and is considered one of the greatest films in American history. At the 1976 Academy Awards, it was nominated for nine categories and won for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Nicholson), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Fletcher), Best Director (Forman), Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Adapted From Other Material (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman). The drama also collected many other awards and nominations with Forman taking home a Golden Globe for Best Director - Motion Picture, a BAFTA for Best Direction, a Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, a Bodil for Best Non-European Film, a David di Donatello for Best Director - Foreign Film, a Silver Ribbon for Best Director - Foreign Film from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists, a Kansas City Film Critics Circle for Best Director, a Readers' Choice Award for Best Foreign Language Film Director at the 1977 Kinema Junpo Awards, and a César nomination for Best Foreign Film. Commenting about Jack Nicholson, he stated, “The moment he begins to work, he becomes a servant. He knows the story. He knows the film. He arrives each day prepared to perfection. He is interested in an excellent ambiance and he helps to create it.”

Forman returned to the director's chair after his Oscar win when he helmed John Savage, Treat Williams, Beverly D'Angelo, Annie Golden, Dorsey Wright, Donnie Dacus, Nell Carter, Cheryl Barnes, Richard Bright and Charlotte Rae in the big screen adaptation of “Hair” (1979), which was scripted by Michael Weller. The film was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture - Musical/Comedy and New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture - Male (Williams), and brought Forman a Cesar nomination for Best Foreign Film and a David di Donatello Award for Best Director - Foreign Film. “Hair,” however, was not a huge success at the box office when it grossed about $15 million in the U.S. against its budget of $11 million. In between directing movies, Forman became a lecturer at Columbia University and was appointed co-director of the Columbia film division in 1975. He became a professor of film at the university in 1978.

After “Hair,” Forman directed the drama “Ragtime” (1981), which was based on E. L. Doctorow's 1975 historical novel of the same title. A reunion with screenwriter Michael Weller, the movie, which starred James Cagney in his final film role before his death in 1986, received Oscar nominations for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Howard E. Rollins Jr.), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Elizabeth McGovern), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Original Song and seven Golden Globe nominations, including Best Director - Motion Picture and Best Motion Picture - Drama.

However, Forman did not enjoy another massive victory until he helmed F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce in the 1984 musical film “Amadeus,” adapted from Peter Shaffer's stage play of the same name. A reunion with the producer of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” Saul Zaentz, the film amassed numerous awards and nominations and won Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Abraham), Best Picture, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Sound, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Peter Shaffer) and Golden Globes in the categories of Best Director - Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama. In addition to his Oscar and Golden Globe wins, Forman nabbed a César for Best Foreign Film, an Amanda for Best Foreign Feature Film, David di Donatellos for Best Director - Foreign Film and Best Foreign Film, a Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, a Guild Film Award - Gold for Foreign Film from the 1986 Guild of German Art House Cinemas, and a Silver Ribbon for Best Director - Foreign Film, to name a few.

Following some acting jobs during the 1950s and 1960s, Forman made his American acting debut in a small role in “Heartburn” (1986), which was directed by Mike Nichols and scripted by Nora Ephron based on her novel of the same name. He went on to play the supporting role of Lazlo in Henry Jaglom's comedy “New Year's Day” (1989), opposite David Duchovny. Still in 1989, Forman co-wrote and directed the drama feature “Valmont,” based on the French novel “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” (1782) by Choderlos de Laclos. Starring Colin Firth, Annette Bening and Meg Tilly, it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Costume Design. Forman received a Cesar nomination for Best Director for his work on the film. “Valmont” performed poorly at the box office.

Back to feature directing after many years hiatus, Forman helmed the biopic “The People vs. Larry Flynt” (1996), based on the life of the publisher of “Hustler” magazine Larry Flynt (portrayed by Woody Harrelson). The Oliver Stone produced film, which was written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, gained generally positive reviews from critics and was nominated for Oscars for Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role. Forman also picked up a Golden Globe for Best Director - Motion Picture, a Golden Berlin Bear at the 1997 Berlin International Film Festival, an European Film for Outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema, a Freedom of Expression Award from the National Broad of Review and a Czech Lion nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Three years later, he directed Jim Carrey in “Man of the Moon,” a biographical film about the American entertainer Andy Kaufman. It brought Forman a Silver Berlin Bear for Best Director and a Golden Berlin Bear nomination at the 2000 Berlin International Film Festival and a Czech Lion nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Like “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” the film was also written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski.

Entering the new millennium, Forman landed the costarring role of Father Havel in “Keeping the Faith” (2000), a feature film directorial debut of actor Edward Norton. He also served as the executive producer on Adam Davidson's drama “Way Past Cool” (2000), Forman's second producing duty after the 1990 short film “Dreams of Love.” He later executive produced the dramatic movie “Nomad” (2005), which was directed by Sergey Bodrov and longtime writing partner Ivan Passer.

In 2006, Forman directed and co-wrote (with Jean-Claude Carrière) the drama “Goya's Ghosts.” The film starred Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård and Randy Quaid. It received poor reviews from critics. In 2009, Forman returned to Czech cinema to direct the musical “A Walk Worthwhile” with his son Petr. The same year, he portrayed Erlebub in the Czech family film “It Is Hell with the Princess,” which was directed by Milos Smídmajer.

Forman is set to direct “The Ghost of Munich,” a historical drama based on the Georges-Marc Benamou novel, which he directed and co-scripted with Václav Havel. The film will be released in 2011.


Awards:

  • Tokyo International Film Festival: Akira Kurosawa Award, 2006

  • Film by the Sea International Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award, 2004

  • National Board of Review: Billy Wilder Award, 2004

  • San Francisco International Film Festival: Film Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Directing, 2004

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Silver Berlin Bear, Best Director, “Man on the Moon,” 2000

  • Munich Film Festival: CineMerit Award, 2000

  • Palm Springs International Film Festival: Director's Achievement Award, 2000

  • Czech Lions: Artistic Achievement Award, 1998

  • Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: Special Prize for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema, 1997

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Golden Berlin Bear, “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” 1997

  • European Film: Outstanding European Achievement in World Cinema, “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” 1997

  • Golden Globe: Best Director - Motion Picture, “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” 1997

  • National Board of Review: Freedom of Expression Award, “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” 1996

  • Guild of German Art House Cinemas: Guild Film Award - Gold, Foreign Film (Ausländischer Film), “Amadeus,” 1986

  • Kinema Junpo: Best Foreign Language Film, “Amadeus,” 1986

  • Academy Award: Best Director, “Amadeus,” 1985

  • Amanda: Best Foreign Feature Film (Årets utenlandske spillefilm), “Amadeus,” 1985

  • César: Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger), “Amadeus,” 1985

  • David di Donatello: David, Best Director - Foreign Film (Migliore Regista Straniero), “Amadeus,” 1985

  • David di Donatello: David, Best Foreign Film (Miglior Film Straniero), “Amadeus,” 1985

  • Directors Guild of America (DGA): Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, “Amadeus,” 1985

  • Golden Globe: Best Director - Motion Picture, “Amadeus,” 1985

  • Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon, Best Director - Foreign Film (Regista del Miglior Film Straniero), “Amadeus,” 1985

  • Joseph Plateau: Best Director, “Amadeus,” 1985

  • Jussi: Best Foreign Filmmaker, “Amadeus,” 1985

  • Robert Festival: Robert, Best Foreign Film (Årets udenlandske spillefilm), “Amadeus,” 1985

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Director, “Amadeus,” 1984

  • David di Donatello: David, Best Director - Foreign Film (Migliore Regista Straniero), “Hair,” 1979

  • BAFTA: Best Direction, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1977

  • Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC): Best Director, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1977

  • Kinema Junpo: Readers' Choice Award, Best Foreign Language Film Director, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1977

  • Academy Award: Best Director, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1976

  • Bodil: Best Non-European Film (Bedste ikke-europæiske film), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1976

  • David di Donatello: David, Best Director - Foreign Film (Migliore Regista Straniero), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1976

  • Directors Guild of America (DGA): Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Picture, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1976

  • Golden Globe: Best Director - Motion Picture, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1976

  • Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists: Silver Ribbon, Best Director - Foreign Film (Regista del Miglior Film Straniero), “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,” 1976

  • Bodil: Best Non-European Film (Bedste ikke-europæiske film), “Taking Off,” 1972

  • Cannes Film Festival: Grand Prize of the Jury, “Taking Off,” 1971

  • Bodil: Best European Film (Bedste europæiske film), “Lásky jedné plavovlásky,” 1967

  • Jussi: Best Foreign Director, “Cerný Petr,” 1967

  • Locarno International Film Festival: Golden Sail, Feature Film, “Cerný Petr,” 1964

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