Roland Joffé Poster


Jump to: Overview (1)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trivia (9)  | Personal Quotes (15)

Overview (1)

Born in London, England, UK

Mini Bio (1)

Roland Joffé was born on November 17, 1945 in London, England, UK. He is a producer and director, known for The Mission (1986), The Killing Fields (1984) and The Great Hunger.

Family (2)

Spouse Jane Lapotaire (1971 - 1980)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Suzee Pai (? - ?)  (separated)
Children Nathalie Lunghi

Trivia (9)

Grandson of sculptor Jacob Epstein.
Has one daughter with actress Cherie Lunghi, Nathalie Lunghi (full name Nathalie Kathleen Lunghi-Joffé), born 26 August 1986.
Has one son with actress Jane Lapotaire, Rowan Joffe, born in 1972.
Was the Official Patron of the 2011 Cambodia Volleyball World Cup held from July 23 to July 29, 2011 at the National Olympic Stadium Phnom Penh.
Is a board member of Operation USA, a non profit humanitarian organization dedicated to helping communities alleviate the effects of disaster, disease, and endemic poverty throughout the world by providing privately-funded relief, reconstruction, humanitarian aid and development aid.
Directed two Oscar nominated performances: Haing S. Ngor and Sam Waterston. Ngor won for his role in The Killing Fields (1984).
Joffe storyboards all his films.
He was the youngest director ever engaged by Britain's National Theater in 1973 shortly before his 28th birthday.
Lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands [2007].

Personal Quotes (15)

I think it's a very dangerous thing for anyone to decide if there was a point when one was good, or that one may be good now. Each movie is a chance to do something different and interesting. That's what I mean by not having a career. I've not tried to be a 'something'. I've just tried to live.
I understand that there should be a British film industry, and I think it's great, and I think Britain has an awful lot to say. But Britain has never really loved its film-makers much. It likes them when they win things. But it's never really supported them particularly. There is no film industry in Britain. There are just individuals who've managed to do well.
The first two movies I made, The Killing Fields (1984) and The Mission (1986), I loved making, but in some ways they've been an albatross round one's neck. Everybody thinks that's what you're supposed to be doing.
[on City of Joy (1992)] Warners was terrified of doing a film about lepers. They said, "Who cares about lepers?" I said it's not a film about lepers, it's a film about life and about any outsider - it could be AIDS, because the way people respond to lepers isn't that different from the way people with AIDS are treated. People say to me, "You're crazy! Why do you go to these difficult locations and lay yourself open to these things?" I reply, "Because it's there and the doing of it will test me."
I am an odd, quirky individual, and the last thing I ever wanted to be was some messianic filmmaker. If something works, don't repeat yourself. Try something different.
[on winning the Palme d'Or for The Mission (1986) at the Cannes Film Festival] I remember Andrei Tarkovsky was in competition the same year. He was dying at the time and the press wanted him to win. Afterwards they behaved as though I had personally robbed him of the award. I had a critic literally attack me in the lobby of my hotel.
[on The Killing Fields (1984)] I had just done a television film with Colin Welland and David Puttnam had just done Chariots of Fire (1981) and Colin must have told David that he enjoyed working with me because I got a call from David telling me that he wanted me to come and see him. When I was there, he gave me a screenplay to read which was about 300 pages long and it was called 'The Killing Fields'. He said to me, "Look, just do me a favour and read this and tell me what you think about it." Well, I sat up all night reading it and wrote him a letter afterwards that simply said, "I think this is a wonderful project. Many people will tell you it's a war story - and it's not. If you do this as a war story it will soon be forgotten. It's a love story. If you do it as a love story, the film will just go on forever because it's just extraordinary."
[on Robert De Niro] I like him a great deal. I think he's a very poetic man. The Mission (1986) was only my second film, and I'd never really worked with a star. So, one day, when De Niro had come to the location - in Columbia - I asked to have dinner with him. I told him, "Bob, I'd listen to everything you have to say. You are more experienced than me. But in the end, you have to listen to me. The film has to be my vision or it wouldn't work." And he waved his arms in typical De Niro fashion, saying, "Why are you telling me this? Why do you think you need to?" And I said, "I need your trust. It wouldn't work otherwise." He walked out on me saying he wouldn't do the film. And I went to bed thinking, "My first star and I've gone and blown it." Next morning he called me saying, "I think you're right."
[regarding Fat Man and Little Boy (1989)] I know from being a director that self-absorption and self-love are very close. I think any director would understand Oppenheimer.
[on working with Ennio Morricone on The Mission (1986)] Originally on The Mission, he didn't want to do the music and then he didn't want to have any South American influence, and then little bit by little bit, I wooed him into listening to different things and that score came out, which I think is his best score, and I know that he loves it above all others. One of the producers was Italian - Fernando Ghia - and he brought Morricone to the movie. When Ennio first saw The Mission, it was a cut that had some other music. Something classical. At the end of the screening he was weeping. I could see he had tears running down his face. I came up to him and he burst out in Italian. What he was saying was that he couldn't make the music for this. He was too affected by it. That's a good sign, my producer assured me, when Ennio Morricone says he can't do it, he usually does something extraordinary.
The Killing Fields (1984) went through many manifestations, and I think it was a matter of how I interpreted the screenplay. Bruce Robinson saw it slightly differently to me. He was more anti-American than I was, more anti-authority than I was. I wasn't really interested in those aspects. I was more interested in certainty and what trumped all of that, which was friendship. I thought, "Fuck all the ideologies on both sides, because in their own way they're both going to have their limitations." What's really important, and what doesn't have limitations, is one man's feelings for another. That has a truth to it that ideologies bury. That was not what Bruce wrote. He had it there, but his was a much more anti-American film than I made.
I know Warner Bros were convinced that their next Oscar-winner was going to be Fat Man and Little Boy (1989). And then they were shocked with it because it wasn't the film they wanted. I fact it was something very different. It said, a) this bomb didn't need to be dropped, b) you lied about why it was dropped, c) the man you all worship as the father of the atomic bomb was not picked because he was strong, he was picked because he was weak. The studio - it was actually Paramount who put the picture out eventually - were like, "Wait a minute, what the..?" It didn't fit the ideology they wanted. They obviously didn't read it very carefully, and when they saw the whole thing put together they thought, "Oh dear, we're going to have a problem with this one." But I like to do movies about things that interest me. I had no interest in doing a hagiography of Robert Oppenheimer.
Because critics are writing quickly, they have a tendency to believe their prejudices are true. For instance, about Fat Man and Little Boy (1989), one critic said, "This is ridiculous, all of these scientists look like kids." But the average age at Los Alamos was 24. So instead of saying, "Oh, we didn't know, isn't that interesting," they say, "Isn't this ridiculous." But it's based on nothing. When I did City of Joy (1992), people would say, "Well, Calcutta isn't like that. All these houses are painted different colours." But they'd never been to Calcutta, which they think is like those black-and-white photographs of starving children with their bellies stuck out. It's not like that. Calcutta's extremely colourful. There is no more colour to be found than in one of those Calcutta slums.
There's something beautiful about total destruction. What follows after is beautiful and moving because of such utter destruction. It's almost as though everything is cleansed after that. Sam Waterston and Haing S. Ngor embracing each other in tears with Lennon's "Imagine" playing on the radio at the end of The Killing Fields (1984), the gentle children who survive at the end of The Mission (1986) seen canoeing down the river playing their musical instruments, and Laura Dern setting free those laboratory animals after the test bomb goes off in Fat Man and Little Boy (1989).
[2002 interview] I loved The Scarlet Letter (1995). I feel very tenderly towards it. Teachers even now tell me that that's the adaptation they show to students. Hawthorne left the Native Americans out of the story and I put them there. Critics can be cruel. We should really call them reviewers and not critics. They come to a screening with a notebook and miss the emotions. But then I also make movies very differently from what critics feel a movie must be. Scorsese over the years has been making movies that fit the notions of critics, that's why he never goes wrong with them. But this is probably me being defensive.

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