Wednesday, 9 February 2011

King's Speech Director Tom Hooper

King's Speech Director Tom Hooper (or Thomas George Hooper) first gained fame and came to wider prominence as a teenage movie maker..

Is someone who directed their first movie at age 13, won their first award for making films at age 14, and directed Kate Beckinsale while still in college extremely talented or extremely lucky? Perhaps a little of both, but given that King's Speech director Tom Hooper has created numerous award-winning films in the years since he gained fame as a teenage director it appears that his career is fueled by genius more than chance.


Born in London in 1972 to Australian and English parents, Tom Hooper first became interested in making films when he read the book 'How to Make Film and Television' when he was just 12. In just a year's time, at age 13, he had completed his first film, a comedy short entitled 'Runaway Dog'. Because the camera he was using could only hold enough film to record for thirty seconds at a time, Hooper crafted the movie around short, funny segments that portrayed a dog that repeatedly ran away from its master.

His next movie, 'Bomber Jacket', told the story of a boy who discovers that his grandfather was a bomber pilot in World War 2. Noted for the sensitivity displayed by a self-taught director, 'Bomber Jacket' was the runner-up in a film competition the BBC held for young movie makers. It was soon followed by 'Countryside', a film that depicted a landscape destroyed by nuclear war.

Hooper's next break came in 1992, when 'Painted Faces', a 15-minute short, was broadcast on BBC's Channel 4. It was later screened during the 35th London Film Festival and helped gain him entry to University College, Oxford, where he would direct Kate Beckinsale in the Oxford Playhouse's production of 'A View From the Bridge'.


Toward the end of his college years, King's Speech director Tom Hooper started to direct commercials, including one for Sega. He soon began a move to television that would result in some of his most acclaimed work. After filming several children's programs, Hooper directed several episodes of the soap opera 'EastEnders'. His episodes contributed to the show winning Best Soap Opera honors at the 2000 and 2001 British Academy Television Awards.

After 'EastEnders', Hooper went on to direct episodes of the comedy 'Cold Feet' and the historical dramas 'Love in a Cold Climate' and 'The Pursuit of Love'. He next garnered praise for his work directing an installment of the 'Prime Suspect' series entitled 'Last Witness', for which he won a Primetime Emmy Award.


Starring Hillary Swank, 'Red Dust', a portrayal of life under apartheid in South Africa, was Hooper's first feature film. Though it drew smaller than expected audiences when it premiered in 2004, the film was nominated for a BAFTA award after it was broadcast on the BBC. Hooper soon found himself directing historical dramas again: In 2005 he was asked to direct HBO's 'Elizabeth I' and 'Longford', the later eventually meriting him a BAFTA nomination for Best to direct the mini-series 'John Adams', also for HBO. Taking 16 months to film, 'John Adams' was nominated for 23 Emmy Awards, of which it won 13.

After working on 'The Damned United', Cooper began directing 'The King's Speech', a film based on a play about King George VI, who had to overcome speech impairments to help lead Britain through the Great Depression and World War 2. Nominated for multiple awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture, the film is considered the best of Hooper's work.

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