April 20, 1956
Blackpool, Lancashire, United Kingdom
Director, Actor, Screenwriter, Producer, Photographer
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Although he played leads at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Court and the National Theatre before reaching the age of 30, Peter Chelsom cut short his decade-long acting career to concentrate on writing and directing films. His first effort, the short "Treacle" (1988), received considerable international acclaim, but several years would pass before he directed a feature film. Gaining experience at the helm of TV commercials, Chelsom finally realized his ambition with "Hear My Song" (1991), a sentimental, amusing whimsy loosely based on the real-life story of the beloved Irish tenor Josef Locke, co-written by Chelsom's leading man, Adrian Dunbar. He completed his trilogy of "hometown movies" with "Funny Bones" (1995), a show business fairy tale featuring performances by Jerry Lewis and Leslie Caron that blur the boundaries of their real and screen personae. Set primarily in his boyhood home of Blackpool, England (considered the entertainment Mecca of the North), "Funny Bones" endearingly resurrects show business nuggets from the past while depicting a decidedly twisted Oedipal drama involving Lewis and his two comedian sons, one (Lee Evans) which he had conceived and abandoned and the other (Oliver Platt), in whom he fostered then squelched ambition.The kid from the north of England then tackled a blue-collar tale set in Cincinnati, Ohio, remarking to his editor after viewing the rough cut, "My God! This could have been directed by an American." "The Mighty" (1998), based on a popular 1993 novel for teenagers by Rodman Philbrick, focused on the friendship between two 13-year old boys: Kevin, a tiny, physically handicapped genius and his learning-disabled, extra-large size neighbor. Chelsom brought Sharon Stone aboard to flex some movie-star muscle in the role of Kevin's mother (as well as to co-executive produce through her Chaos Productions) and separated "The Mighty" from comparable material with the magic of its Camelot analogies. In an early scene, the pair find themselves suddenly flanked by Arthurian knights on head-tossing steeds while later retrieving a lost purse rescues a damsel in distress, and making a bully back down slays a modern-day dragon. "The Mighty" solidified the promise of Chelsom's earlier films, inventively visualizing the aspirations of its two adolescent misfits with an honesty that proved draining, cathartic and satisfying. He weighed in with his first big-budget Hollywood affair, "Town & Country" (2000), a mid-life crisis comedy starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn.
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