October 1, 1972
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Very few directors made historical films quite like Tom Hooper did. He had the gift of seemingly getting inside the minds of some of the most powerful figures in history and exploring onscreen their struggles, vanities, failures and successes. The British director first gained international acclaim with the biopic, "Elizabeth I" (Channel 4, 2005), a moving portrayal of the later years of the nearly 45-year-long reign of Elizabeth I of England. He also earned critical accolades for directing the award-winning epic miniseries "John Adams" (HBO, 2008), which explored the role of President John Adams in the founding of the United States. His career rose to new heights after he helmed "The King's Speech" (2010), a film that captured the riveting bond between an insecure monarch and the therapist who helped him overcome a debilitating speech impediment. The picture, which received several Oscars including Best Director and Best Picture, helped establish Hooper as an authoritative cinematic voice. By the time he directed the highly anticipated adaptation of "Les Misérables" (2012), Hooper was one of Hollywood's most sought-after directors.Born in 1972 in London, England, Tom Hooper started making short films around age 12, featuring his mother and the family pet. He studied English at Oxford University, where he also directed plays and television commercials. Hooper's directorial debut, the short film "Painted Faces" (Channel 4, 1992), was about an artist who was terrorized by one of his paintings that came to life. Only a few short years later, Hooper directed the family drama "Byker Grove" (BBC, 1989-2006), which followed the lives and loves of a youth club. He went on to direct the romantic-comedy series "Cold Feet" (iTV, 1997-2003), which many critics described as the British version of the widely popular sitcom, "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004). After directing a string of sitcoms, Hooper appeared to have found his niche in making epic miniseries, such as "Masterpiece Theatre: Love in a Cold Climate" (BBC, 2001), based on the Nancy Mitford novels The Pursuit of Love (1945) and Love in a Cold Climate (1949), and the widely acclaimed biopic "Elizabeth I," featuring Helen Mirren in the title role. For making the 2005 biopic, Hooper won a slew of major awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special in 2006.In 2008, Hooper helmed the award-winning HBO miniseries "John Adams," a biopic of the reforming American president (Paul Giamatti) and recounted the first 50 years of the United States of America. By this time, Hooper's reputation as a compelling historical filmmaker was growing at an exponential rate, which helped boost the release of the 2009 fact-based drama "The Damned United," about the controversial British football manager, Brian Clough (Michael Sheen). Aided by an excellent script and great performances, Hooper successfully drew out the darkness and dangerous intentions of a very powerful and ambitious man who rose to fame in England, but failed to capture the same kind of attention across the pond.Hooper's follow-up, "The King's Speech," was one of that year's most buzzed about films and one of the strongest contenders for the following year's major acting awards. Essentially a buddy story about two opposites, the film was a riveting portrayal of King George VI's (Colin Firth) relationship with his defiant yet charming speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) who helps him defeat a lifelong stutter. Determined to paint a kinder view of the future monarch who appeared destined to live life in a fishbowl, Hooper made excessive use of a fisheye lens. He also worked very closely with his lead actors to bring out their character's magnanimity as well as their closely guarded insecurities. Thanks to Hooper's direction, both Firth and Rush received major critical acclaim for their performances, and the movie received a nomination for Best Foreign Film from the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards.