Stephen Daldry Biography

Producer, Director (1960–)
Stephen Daldry is a three-time Oscar nominated director known for the films Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader.


Born on May 2, 1960, in Dorset, England, Stephen Daldry worked as a child performer before going on to become an acclaimed director for the British stage. He made his big-screen directorial debut with Billy Elliot in 2000, followed by The Hours in 2002 and The Reader in 2008. He has been nominated for directing Oscars for all three films and was also at the helm of 2011’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Early Life

Stage and film director Stephen Daldry was born on May 2, 1960, in Dorset, England. Daldry's father, a bank manager, disapproved of his son's early interest in the theater, persuading him to leave school and work in a shirt factory to help support his family instead. His father died suddenly when Daldry was 14, however, and Daldry went on to make his name in the British theater community beginning in the mid-1980s, after his graduation from Sheffield University.

Mainstream Success

In 1989, Daldry began directing stage productions at The Gate Theater in London, earning rave reviews for Damned in Despair in 1991. He remained with The Gate until 1992, when he became artistic director at the prestigious Royal Court Theater.

Daldry gained international prominence as a stage director with the overwhelming success of his staging of J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls in 1992. The young director garnered numerous accolades, including a London Critics Circle Award and an Olivier Award for Best Director. When the play moved to Broadway in 1994, it met with a similarly glowing reception, earning Daldry a Tony Award. His other notable productions with the Royal Court included Machinal (1994) and Rat in the Skull (1995).

Daldry signed a three-year first-look deal with a film production company, Working Title Films, in 1997. His first celluloid effort, the short film Eight (1998), received a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) nomination, the British equivalent of an Academy Award. He returned to the theater in 1998 to direct the one-man show Via Dolorosa, starring David Hare, in London and on Broadway.

'Billy Elliot'

Daldry's first feature-length film, originally titled Dancer, told the poignant story of a young boy in a working-class British town who defies his father by secretly studying ballet in the midst of a brutal miners strike that threatens his family's livelihood. As Billy Elliot (2000), the movie bowled over critics as well as audiences, who especially embraced its young star, 13-year-old Jamie Bell.

Hailed as the most important British film in years, Billy Elliot earned Daldry an Academy Award nomination for Best Director, as well as a nod for Julie Walters, as the rough but sympathetic dancing teacher, for Best Supporting Actress. For his part, Bell beat out some of the world's top leading men (including Oscar favorites Tom Hanks and Russell Crowe) for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.

Other Work

The success of Billy Elliot earned Daldry a place on the A-list of up-and-coming directors, next to his compatriot and fellow stage director Sam Mendes (an Oscar winner for 1999's American Beauty). Daldry's next feature, an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours (2001), boasts a decidedly high profile cast, including Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Ed Harris.

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