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John Madden was born in Portsmouth and educated at Clifton College and Cambridge. He began his career as Artistic Director of the Oxford and Cambridge Shakespeare Company, later moving to the BBC to work in television and radio drama.
He moved to America in 1975 to develop radio drama with EARPLAY, the National Public Radio drama project. After winning the Prix Italia for directing Arthur Kopit’s Wings for EARPLAY, he subsequently directed the play for the stage at Yale and the National Theatre in London, and on Broadway. The latter company’s Constance Cummings won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, and Mr. Madden was a nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
His subsequent stage work included directing the Broadway premieres of Jules Feiffer’s Grown Ups and Christopher Durang’s Beyond Therapy, as well as Arnold Wesker’s Caritas. During this time, he taught in the acting and playwriting programs at the Yale School of Drama.
In 1984, Mr. Madden began to work extensively in film, directing for the BBC and for commercial television. His telefilms included Poppyland and The Widowmaker, and the miniseries After the War.
He returned to America early in the next decade to make his first feature film; Ethan Frome was adapted by Richard Nelson from Edith Wharton’s novella and starred Liam Neeson and Patricia Arquette. Mr. Madden’s next feature was Golden Gate, an original screenplay written by David Henry Hwang that starred Matt Dillon and Joan Chen.
Back in the U.K., he directed the telefilm Prime Suspect: The Lost Child (the fourth in the series), which was his first collaboration with Helen Mirren of The Debt. His telefilm Truth or Dare, starring John Hannah and Helen Baxendale, won the BAFTA [Scotland] Award for Best Single Drama.
Mr. Madden directed [Her Majesty,] Mrs. Brown from Jeremy Brock’s original screenplay and starring Judi Dench and Billy Connolly. The film received 8 BAFTA Award nominations and 2 Academy Award nominations including Best Actress.
His next film, Shakespeare in Love, earned him an Academy Award nomination. The film won 3 Golden Globe Awards; 4 BAFTA Awards; and 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman), Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench).
He then directed Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, adapted by Shawn Slovo from the bestselling novel by Louis de Bernières. The film starred Nicolas Cage, Penélope Cruz, Christian Bale, David Morrissey, and John Hurt.
Mr. Madden staged David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof at the Donmar Warehouse, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. He subsequently directed the screen version, written by the author and Rebecca Miller; Ms. Paltrow starred with Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Hope Davis.
He previously directed Killshot, adapted by Hossein Amini from the Elmore Leonard novel and starring Diane Lane, Thomas Jane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Mickey Rourke. Mr. Madden has just finished his new film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, based on Deborah Moggach’s novel These Foolish Things, and starring Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, Judi Dench, and Tom Wilkinson of The Debt.