Neil Jordan

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Neil Jordan
Neil Jordan by David Shankbone.jpg
Jordan at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival
Neil Patrick Jordan

(1950-02-25) 25 February 1950 (age 74)
Sligo, Ireland
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter, novelist
Years active1979–present
Spouse(s)Vivienne Shields (divorced)
Brenda Rawn
(m. 2004)

Neil Patrick Jordan (born 25 February 1950) is an Irish film director, screenwriter, novelist and short-story writer. He won an Academy Award, two BAFTA Awards, a Golden Lion and a Silver Bear. He was honoured with receiving the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1996. [1] He is known for writing and directing acclaimed dramas such as Mona Lisa (1986), The Crying Game (1992), Michael Collins (1996), The Butcher Boy (1997) and The End of the Affair (1999). Jordan also created the Showtime series The Borgias (2011) and Sky Atlantic's Riviera (2017). Jordan is also known as an author. He wrote Night in Tunisia (1976) which won a Somerset Maugham Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1979. [2] [3]


Early life

Jordan was born in Sligo, the son of Angela (née O'Brien), a painter, and Michael Jordan, a professor. [4] He was educated at St. Paul's College, Raheny. Later, Jordan attended University College Dublin, where he studied Irish history and English literature. He graduated in 1972 with a BA in History. He became involved in student theatre there, where he met Jim Sheridan, who also was later to become an important Irish film director. Of his religious background, Jordan said in a 1999 Salon interview: "I was brought up a Catholic and was quite religious at one stage in my life, when I was young. But it left me with no scars whatever; it just sort of vanished." He said about his current beliefs that "God is the greatest imaginary being of all time. Along with Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, the invention of God is probably the greatest creation of human thought." [5]


Neil Jordan's career began in the late 1970s working for the Irish television channel, RTÉ. Included in his work was writing storylines for the children's fantasy series, Wanderly Wagon . [6]

In 1981, when John Boorman was filming Excalibur in Ireland, he recruited Jordan as a "creative associate". A year later, Boorman was executive producer on Jordan's first feature Angel , a tale of a musician caught up in the Troubles played by Stephen Rea who has subsequently appeared in almost all of Jordan's films to date. During the 1980s, he directed films that won him acclaim, including The Company of Wolves and Mona Lisa , both made in England. The Company of Wolves, a dark and sexually-themed reimagining of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale based on short stories by Angela Carter, became a cult favourite.

As a writer/director, Jordan has a highly idiosyncratic body of work, ranging from mainstream hits like Interview with the Vampire to commercial failures like We're No Angels to a variety of more personal, low-budget arthouse pictures. He was also the driving force behind the cable TV series The Borgias .

Neil Jordan at the German premiere of The Brave One, 2007 Neil Jordan.4756.jpg
Neil Jordan at the German premiere of The Brave One , 2007

Unconventional sexual relationships are a recurring theme in Jordan's work, and he often finds a sympathetic side to characters that audiences would traditionally consider deviant or downright horrifying. His film The Miracle , for instance, followed two characters who struggle to resist a strong, incestuous attraction. Interview with the Vampire, like the Anne Rice book it was based on, focused on the intense, intimate interpersonal relationship of two undead men who murder humans nightly (although the pair never have sex, they are clearly lovers of a sort), accompanied by an equally complex vampire woman who is eternally trapped in the body of a little girl. While Lestat (Tom Cruise) is depicted in an attractive but villainous manner, his partner Louis (Brad Pitt) and the child vampire Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) are meant to capture the audience's sympathy despite their predatory nature. In the remake of The End of the Affair , two people (Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore) engage in a love affair that will end as suddenly as it started, with both not wanting its end.

In addition to the unusual sexuality of Jordan's films, he frequently returns to the Troubles of Northern Ireland. The Crying Game and Breakfast on Pluto both concern a transgender character (played by Jaye Davidson and Cillian Murphy, respectively), both concern The Troubles and both feature frequent Jordan leading man Stephen Rea. The two films, however, are very different, with The Crying Game being a realistic thriller/romance, and Breakfast on Pluto is a much more episodic, stylised, darkly comic biography. Jordan also frequently tells stories about children or young people, such as The Miracle and The Butcher Boy . While his pictures are most often grounded in reality, he occasionally directs more fantastic or dreamlike films, such as The Company of Wolves, High Spirits , Interview with the Vampire and In Dreams .

Jordan with Alicja Bachleda-Curus and Colin Farrell at the Ondine premiere, 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York Alicja Bachleda, Colin Farrell & Neil Jordan by David Shankbone.jpg
Jordan with Alicja Bachleda-Curuś and Colin Farrell at the Ondine premiere, 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York

The critical success of Jordan's early pictures led him to Hollywood, where he directed High Spirits and We're No Angels; both were critical and financial disasters. He later returned home to make the more personal The Crying Game, which was nominated for six Academy Awards. Jordan won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film. [7] Its unexpected success led him back to American studio filmmaking, where he directed Interview with the Vampire. He also directed the crime drama The Brave One starring Jodie Foster.

Neil Gaiman announced during his Today show appearance on 27 January 2009, that Neil Jordan would be directing the film of his Newbery Medal-winning book The Graveyard Book . [8] Jordan also wrote and directed the 2009 Irish-made film Ondine , starring Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda-Curuś. He also directed Byzantium , an adaptation of the vampire play of the same name starring Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton and Jonny Lee Miller. [9]

In 2011, Jordan's next feature was announced as the later aborted sci-fi romance Broken Dream, which was to have featured Ben Kingsley and John Hurt. [10]

He directed the thriller Greta (2018), starring Isabelle Huppert and Chloë Grace Moretz.

After working on the scripts for Riviera , Jordan has disowned the show, due to his scripts being reworked by others. He said he has no idea who rewrote these episodes. "They were changed, to my huge surprise and considerable upset. There were various sexual scenes introduced into the story and a lot of very expository dialogue. I objected in the strongest terms possible." [11]

Personal life

Jordan has five children: Anna and Sarah from his marriage to solicitor Vivienne Shields; Dashiel and Daniel from his current marriage to Brenda Rawn, and Ben, from a relationship with architect Mary Donohoe. Jordan lives in Dalkey, Dublin. [12]

In 1996, Neil Jordan was honoured with receiving the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. [13] He has received many honorary doctorates, most notably from Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and Queen's University Belfast. [14] [15] [16]

In 2009, he signed a petition in support of director Roman Polanski, calling for his release after he was arrested in Switzerland in relation to his 1977 charge for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. [17] [18]

In 2018, he donated his archives to the National Library of Ireland. Jordan's donation included TV and film scripts, production files, notebooks, storyboards and personal correspondence with artists and political figures. [19]



1982 Angel YesYesNo
1984 The Company of Wolves YesYesNo
1986 Mona Lisa YesYesNo
1988 High Spirits YesYesNo
1989 We're No Angels YesNoNo
1991 The Miracle YesYesNo
1992 The Crying Game YesYesNo
1994 Interview with the Vampire YesNoNo
1996 Michael Collins YesYesNo
1997 The Butcher Boy YesYesexecutive
1999 In Dreams YesYesNo
The End of the Affair YesYesYes
2000 Not I (Short film)YesNoNo
2002 The Good Thief YesYesexecutive
2005 Breakfast on Pluto YesYesYes
2007 The Brave One YesNoNo
2009 Ondine YesYesYes
2012 Byzantium YesNoNo
2018 Greta YesYesexecutive
2022 Marlowe YesYesNo

Executive producer



1979Miracles & Miss LanganNoYesNoNoTV movie
2011–2013 The Borgias YesYesYesYesDirected 6 episodes
Wrote 20 episodes
2017–2020 Riviera NoYesYesYesWrote 2 episodes

Awards and nominations

YearTitleAcademy AwardsBAFTA AwardsGolden Globe Awards
1984 The Company of Wolves 4
1986 Mona Lisa 16141
1992 The Crying Game 61711
1994 Interview with the Vampire 2422
1996 Michael Collins 222
1999 The End of the Affair 21014
2005 Breakfast on Pluto 1
2007 The Brave One 1
1986 Mona Lisa Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
1992 The Crying Game Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated- Academy Award for Best Director
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
1996 Michael Collins Golden Lion
1997 The Butcher Boy Silver Bear for Best Director
1999 The End of the Affair BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated- Golden Globe Award for Best Director
2011 The Borgias Nominated- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
(for episodes "The Poisoned Chalice" and "The Assassin" )



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  12. "Location". Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  13. Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
  14. "University College Dublin – News". Retrieved 2 November 2021.
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  16. "Queen's University Belfast (formerly Queen's College Belfast) Honorary Degrees 1871–2018" (PDF). Retrieved 2 November 2021.
  17. "Signez la pétition pour Roman Polanski !" (in French). La Règle du jeu. 10 November 2009.
  18. "Sinead demands Jordan remove name from Polanski petition". The Irish Independent. 13 January 2010.
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  24. Ronan McGreevy (18 November 2011). "Heaney honoured at book awards". The Irish Times. Retrieved 25 October 2012.

Further reading