Eli Roth began shooting Super 8 films at the age of eight, after watching Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) and vomiting, and deciding he wanted to be a producer/director. With his brothers and friends, ketchup for blood and his father's power tools, he made over fifty short films before attending film school at N.Y.U., where he won a student Academy Award and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1994. He worked in film and theater production in New York City for many years, doing every job from production assistant to assistant editor to assistant to the director. At the age of 20 Roth was development head for producer Fred Zollo, a position he soon left to write full time. To earn a living, Roth did budgets and schedules for the films A Price Above Rubies (1998) and Illuminata (1998) and often worked as a stand-in, where he could watch directors work with the actors. In 1995, Roth co-wrote the script that would eventually become Cabin Fever (2002) with friend Randy Pearlstein, and the two spent many years unsuccessfully trying to get the film financed. Roth left New York in 1999 to live in Los Angeles, and within four months got funding for his animation series "Chowdaheads" (1999). Roth and friend Noah Belson (Cabin Fever (2002)'s Guitar Man) wrote and voiced the episodes, which Roth produced, directed and designed. The episodes were due to run on W.C.W.'s #1 rated series "WCW Monday Nitro" (1995) but the C.E.O. was fired a day before they were scheduled to air, and the episodes never ran. Roth used the episodes to set up a stop motion series called The Rotten Fruit (2003) (V) which he produced, directed and animated, as well as co-wrote and voiced with friend Belson. Between the two animated series, Roth worked closely with director David Lynch, producing content for the website davidlynch.com. In 2001, Roth filmed Cabin Fever (2002) on a shoestring budget of $1.5 million, with private equity he and his producers raised from friends and family. The film was the subject of a bidding war at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival, eventually won by Lion's Gate, instantly doubling their investors' money. It went on to not only be the highest grossing film for Lion's Gate in 2003, but the most profitable horror film released that year, garnering critical acclaim from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Empire Magazine, and such filmmakers as Peter Jackson, Quentin Tarantino and Tobe Hooper . Roth used the film's success to launch a slew of projects, including Scavenger Hunt, a teen comedy he will write and direct for Universal Studios, and The Box, a horror thriller he is co-writing with Richard Kelly that Roth will also direct. In May of 2003, Roth joined forces with filmmakers Boaz Yakin, Scott Spiegel, and Greenestreet Films in New York to form Raw Nerve, LLC, a new production company that will produce 3-5 intense, scary, lower budget horror films annually.IMDb Mini Biography By: Scott Harbinson
Classical Filmmaking style. Roth photographs, edits, and scores his films like 1970s dramas. He does not use the modern "MTV" style of fast cutting, and prefers the filmmaking techniques not to be noticed, and to take a back seat to the story and performances.
Classical orchestral score. Roth prefers the "classical" style of filmmaking, and scores his films with classical instruments. His one use of electronic music was a conscious choice for his "Grindhouse" trailer "Thanksgiving" to parody the era, but for his features Roth uses classical music. His favorite scores are "Psycho," "Jaws," and "The Shining," as well as Angelo Badalamenti's music, and their influence can be felt in all his films.
Photographs in 2:35 aspect ratio to give his films a 'bigger budget' feel. Roth prefers the widescreen frame, which John Carpenter used in his early films.
Loves photographing through mirrors. In "Cabin Fever" Marcy examines herself, in "Hostel" the girls at the Hostel are first shown in reflection and Kana kills herself after seeing her reflection, and in "Hostel Part 2" there are several sequences of girls posing in triptych mirrors.
Films contain explicit carnage
Won a Student Academy Award in 1995 for his N.Y.U. thesis film Restaurant Dogs.
Got his idea for Cabin Fever (2002) when he was in Iceland and contracted a case of a flesh-eating disease. The now infamous shaving-legs scene in the bathtub is based on when Roth shaved his face and layers of skin came off while having the disease.
Was the inspiration for the character Eli, the aspiring porn director, in the film The Girl Next Door (2004). One of the writers was friends with Cabin Fever (2002) editor Ryan Folsey, and spent time in the editing room, secretly writing down everything Roth was saying. Roth found out about this when several actors he knew auditioned for the film, and told him there was a character named Eli who spoke exactly like him. Roth confirmed this with the writer, who was promptly kicked out of the editing room.
Is friends with director Chloe , aka Chloe Nichole, who directed the Cabin Fever X-rated parody Sex Fever (2003) (V). Chloe had visited the Cabin Fever (2002) set during shooting, and then directed the sexy spoof without telling Roth. In Sex Fever (2003) (V), Chloe spoofed Roth's character Justin, making her director's cameo as a lost hiker, just as Roth did in Cabin Fever (2002). Roth was flattered that she made the film, but was disappointed he was not invited to visit her set in return.
Suffers from psoriasis, a genetic, non-contagious skin disorder which can have crippling effects. When Roth suffered his first attack at age 22, his skin was cracked and bleeding so badly that he could not walk or wear clothes. He based many of the events in Cabin Fever (2002) on his own skin-curdling experiences.
Paid for his student films by working as an on-line sex operator for Penthouse magazine, back when only doctors and scientists were on the Internet. Subscribers paid $30 an hour to have sex with Roth and his N.Y.U. friends, thinking they were gorgeous Penthouse models. Roth claims that these experiences inspire many of the characters he writes today.
Quentin Tarantino called Roth "the future of horror" in the May 2004 issue of Premiere magazine, a year before Roth made "Hostel.".
Is a huge fan of Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen. While filming Cabin Fever (2002), Roth played the Olsen Twins's film Holiday in the Sun (2001) (V) on a continuous loop in a screening room, to give the cast and crew "artistic inspiration."
When he worked as a production assistant for Howard Stern on the set of Private Parts (1997), he worked the late shift from about 11pm to 7am. During this time he spent rewriting and reworking the Cabin Fever (2002) script because he says it was "problematic at best.".
Shared nearly all the profits from the enormously successful Cabin Fever (2002) with his cast and crew members, who took very little pay up front in order to get the film made.
Does incredible voice impressions, and will often entertain his cast and crew during long camera setups with imitations of everyone working on his film.
Was fired by director Martin Brest on Meet Joe Black (1998) for being an "untalented stand-in." Roth later worked on the film as a production assistant, but was hidden from the director, put in the basement of the studio, where he turned the air conditioning on and off between takes.
Although his films are frequently advertised as such, he reportedly does not personally take the "film by" or "an Eli Roth film" credit because he believes that people should be able to distinguish your work from the film itself, not the opening titles or poster. He believes filmmaking is a collaborative process, and feels the credit disrespects the people who brought their own creativity to the project.
Owns an Icelandic horse named Bara, who he keeps on the horse farm in Selfoss, Iceland, where he lived when he was 19.
His father Sheldon Roth is a world renowned psychiatrist/psychoanalyst and a professor at the Harvard University medical school. His mother Cora Roth is a painter who shows her work at the O.K. Harris gallery in New York City.
Was originally approached to be the voice of the computer trivia game "You Don't Know Jack," but turned it down to write Cabin Fever (2002).
Spends every summer at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York. Roth claims that the beautiful old hotel, built in 1869, is a continued source of inspiration for scary ideas. Other guests of the mountain house include Roth's favorite writer Stephen King.
Cannot stand the sight of real blood, saying it makes him sick to his stomach. Movie blood, however, has no effect on him.
Is an expert on the relatively unknown scientist Nikola Tesla. Roth owns copies of every known letter Tesla ever wrote, including rare letters to Tesla's family and to financiers when his projects fell apart. Roth shares similar obsessive compulsive disorders that Tesla had, and has said he feels a strange connection to the forgotten scientist.
Is deathly allergic to cats, and cannot be in the same house as them.
Member of the unofficial Splat Pack, a term coined by film historian Alan Jones in Total Film magazine for the modern wave of directors making brutally violent horror films. The other Splat Pack members are Alexandre Aja, Darren Lynn Bousman, Neil Marshall, Greg Mclean, James Wan, Leigh Whannell and Rob Zombie.
The total combined production budget of Eli Roth's first two films is $6 million dollars. The total worldwide theatrical gross of Eli Roth's first two films is well over $100 million dollars. With DVD sales and rentals, the total revenue generated by Eli Roth's first two films is over $200 million dollars. (Source: boxofficemojo.com)
Was voted Most Fit Director in the June/July 2006 issue of Men's Fitness magazine, which ranked the "25 Fittest Guys" in various professions.
Was voted by fans into the Fangoria Magazine Hall of Fame in June 2006 after directing only two films, the fastest of any director ever to receive that honor.
Is red/brown and blue/black color blind in low light.
Writes all of his scripts longhand, a practice he started on the advice of Quentin Tarantino. Roth writes in a handwriting so illegible that only he can read it in case he loses his notebook.
Is considered one of the most profitable directors working in film today. Both of his first films earned over five times their production cost at the box office opening weekend. Neither film boasted major stars, proving that Roth's name guarantees a built in audience. (Source: Boxofficemojo.com).
One of his favorite movies is The Wicker Man (1973) .
Gave an expert commentary on Troma's DVD release of The Incredible Torture Show (AKA Blood Sucking Freaks).
Suffers from asthma, and is very allergic to cigarettes. Roth does not allow smoking anywhere near his sets, and if an an actor smokes in a scene Roth must be at a monitor far away from the set.
Has never lost money on a film. Cabin Fever (2002) recouped 15 times its budget theatrically, Hostel (2005) recouped 20 times its budget theatrically, and Hostel: Part II (2007) , Roth's biggest budget film to date, recouped triple its budget theatrically.
Put on 35 pounds of muscle for the role of "Donny Donowitz", The Bear Jew in Inglourious Basterds (2009). Roth also learned to cut hair for the role from producer Pilar Savone's father, Umberto Savone, at his salon, "Umberto", in Beverly Hills.
Received an Art Award at the 2011 Ischia Global Film and Music Festival, and sang his acceptance speech. Roth had not planned on singing, but the band started playing during the awards ceremony, and he was called on stage during the music. Roth dedicated his award to his favorite Italian comedy star, Bombolo, and got the crowd in Ischia on the beach chanting and singing Bombolo's name.
Was the guest of honor at the 2011 Neuchatel International Film Festival.
He is quoted as saying that movie series should never surpass two installments and, therefore, movies such as The Godfather: Part III (1990) and Alien³ (1992) should never have been made. True to his word, he has directed two "Hostel" movies, and has no affiliation with Hostel: Part III (2011) (V), apart from a writing credit for conceiving certain characters.
During the filming of Inglourious Basterds (2009), Roth only wore period-style Ted Williams jerseys off set to stay in the mindset of Donnie Donowitz.
Filmed "The Green Inferno" in an Amazonian village with no electricity or running water, only accessible by motorboat. The village was so remote the natives had never before seen a movie or television. To get permission, Roth's producers brought a generator, television and DVD player and explained to the entire village what a movie was. The film they showed was "Cannibal Holocaust." The natives thought it was a comedy and agreed to let Roth and crew film there. Nearly the entire village signed up after the screening to play cannibals.
To qualify for the Green Inferno, Roth would only see actors who agreed to get yellow fever vaccination and film in deep amazonian jungle with no bathrooms, surrounded by tarantulas, snakes, and venomous frogs who could kill you on contact. After filming was completed, the cast and crew were then de-parasited.
"I'll direct any movie starring a monkey or the Olsen Twins. Preferably both." in an interview with Dave Kehr in the New York Times, September 2002.
I would shoot in the Czech Republic over the States any day. There's no unions here, so the dollar goes a lot farther. You can film with kids without the same kind of strict regulations and hassles you get in the U.S.
I know your second film can make or break you, because you're either a bona fide director or a one hit wonder.
I am very lucky to have good people around me to bounce ideas off of. They bring out the best in you.
Hype can be the best thing in the world, but too much of it can kill you. There's this weird balance between getting people excited to see the film, and not wanting to over-hype it to the point where they can't enjoy it because they've been told it's so great. Cabin Fever was definitely a victim of that, and people got really angry if it didn't live up to their expectations that they read on the Internet. The truth is, with movies like Hostel and Cabin Fever, the Internet's our only shot. They don't have the big stars like War of the Worlds, and they don't have the advertising dollars that these films do. Studios can spend $30-$40 million marketing a movie. How do you compete with that? You have to find a way to get fans to support your movie, and the Internet's the only way to reach them directly without a huge budget. However, the danger is that if you catch that hype wave and people are excited, you have crazy expectations to live up to. People's enjoyment of a movie is directly related to what their expectations of that movie are. If they heard Cabin Fever was some weirdo low budget scary/funny indie movie that got a distribution deal at a festival, they tended to like it much more than people who heard it was the second coming. The other danger is that people get sick of you - fast, and I know people out there are tired of reading about me.
Cabin Fever was this crazy ride, as most of you know. It was all totally built through Internet and word of mouth, and we made it for a million and a half bucks, and it wound up doing like over 100 million dollars.
People don't enjoy violence in real life, but they love it in their movies. And I think a lot of studio horror movies don't want to offend anybody. If there's anything that's too far out there, they test it and if it offends people, they take it out. But Open Water, Wolf Creek, The Devil's Rejects -- these are movies made outside of the studio system, that don't have a happy ending. [The studios and critics] forget that that's what people are paying for -- to be terrified and disturbed.
There's not a single instance of a horror movie actually causing any violence. People know it's fake, that's why they allow themselves to enjoy it. It helps them deal with their own fears, the fear of things beyond their control. People blow up abortion clinics and then blame the bible, but you would never say 'ban the bible,' you'd say that's some lunatic who wants to kill people and then hide behind religion. Nobody ever died from a horror movie, in fact, it's the opposite. It's the single best date movie you can go to, because you're guaranteed to be squeezing that person for the entire film. And if the movie works, your date won't want to go to sleep alone. Horror films are an aphrodisiac. 9 months from now I predict a wave of 'Hostel' babies.
If I don't come home covered head to toe in fake blood then I haven't done my job as a horror director.
Failure, in my book, is someone who lives in the safety of their laptop taking shots at those who actually achieved what they have been unable to do.
I'd seen all these films on the festival circuit like Audition, Ichi the Killer, Sympathy for Mr Vengeance, and I said, this is the kind of movie I want to make. Something that's sick, and disturbing, and fucked- up... [but] I wanted it also to be a fun ride.
I read it and it was like Donny kicks open the door and shoots Hitler in the face. I was like 'Woo-hoo!' I was so happy. It was amazing. It was like I'm going to be the new Moses. - on the script for Inglourious Basterds
I saw Alien (1979) when I was eight years old. To me, it was like a combination of Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) and that's the movie that made me want to be a director. It traumatized me. I actually threw up I was so nervous after I saw it but that's like the highest compliment you can give a horror film. Then, when I was 12, I saw The Evil Dead (1981) and that movie traumatized me too, but I also discovered that a 21-year-old [Sam Raimi] directed it, that you can go off in the woods with your friends and for not much money make a classic.
Peter Sellers is probably my favorite actor of all time. I just watched Dr Strangelove (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)) the other night. I'm obsessed with him, even in The Party (1968) and Being There (1979). Peter Sellers can do no wrong in my book. I also love Ricky Gervais, Sacha Baron Cohen, Steve Coogan.
I really like "The Office" (2001), the original one. And obviously Sacha Baron Cohen, I have all the British Ali G DVDs. When I was shooting Hostel (2005), the children who played the street kids were these gypsies who lived in a commune. They didn't go to school but knew English from watching HBO and Ali G. They called me Eli G, and I had to say: 'Yo bitches!' Recently I've been watching "Nighty Night" (2004) with Julia Davis. That's one of my favorites.
I will be forever stuck in classic rock. I listen to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie. I have a soft spot for '80s metal, because I grew up in Massachusetts, so I listened to Guns N' Roses, AC/DC and Iron Maiden. I like weirder, more obscure stuff too like Devo.
I still like The Boomtown Rats. Bob Geldof is actually my favorite person to argue about music with, because he just rolls his eyes when I talk about the genius of Powerslave, an Iron Maiden album. He just scratches his head, looks at his daughter and says: 'Why did you pick this guy?'
The Exorcist (1973) felt so real. I'd never seen anything that horrifying. It scared me for years, I had nightmares for years as a child and had always wanted to be involved in an exorcism movie.
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