After enjoying success with Night in Tunsisia and Other Stories and the novel The Past,
NEIL JORDAN entered films as a script consultant on John Boorman's striking EXCALIBUR and soon after saw his screenplay TRAVELLER (both 1981) directed in 16mm by Joe Comerford. His feature directorial debut, ANGEL/DANNY BOY(1982) starred Stephen Rea as the first incarnation of a gunman who would appear in subsequent pictures. After giving a haunting, Freudian revamping to the story of Little Red Riding Hood in THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (1985), Jordan broke through with MONA LISA (1986), an absorbing tale of obsessive love that garnered the director his first real international recognition.
MONA LISA brought Jordan offers to work in Hollywood, such as HIGH SPIRITS (1988), a supernatural comedy distributed in a mutilated version that had little to do with the director's vision. Neil returned to Ireland to tentatively tackle the subject of mother-son incest in THE MIRACLE (1991), based on his award-winning story Night in Tunsisia. In 1992, Jordan's clever mixture of politics and sexual intrigue in THE CRYING GAME catapulted an indie designed for art house distribution into a stunning cultural and commercial success. Picking up six Oscar nominations (including a win for Jordan's screenplay) and many critics' awards, it boasted one of the best-kept plot secrets (regarding sexual identity) in recent film history and also marked the reappearance of the gunman embodied by Rea.
With his newly acquired clout, Jordan returned in triumph to Hollywood and landed the plum, if daunting, assignment of adapting to the screen Anne Rice's tricky bestseller INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE. The film garnered favorable reviews and performed well at the box office. More impressively, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE also proved thematically consistent with many aspects of Jordan's earlier work, as its dank, downbeat tone blended with its heady sexuality and metaphysical musings.
Jordan's next project, the epic story of MICHAEL COLLINS (1996) had frustrated filmmakers for nearly four decades, with individuals from John Ford and John Huston to Robert Redford and Kevin Costner attempting to bring to the screen a biopic based on the life of the Irish Republican Army commander-in-chief (and still controversial Irish hero). Despite the actor's then low-profile, Jordan had wanted Liam Neeson for the title role ever since completing the screenplay in 1983. Neeson justified this faith, garnering his strongest notices since 1993's SCHINDLER'S LIST.
His next project, THE BUTCHER BOY (1997), adapted from the novel by Patrick McCabe, is a harrowing tale of a young boy driven mad by his abusive upbringing. IN DREAMS (1999), his first collaboration with David Geffen at DreamWorks, proved a complicated affair in its story of a woman (Annette Bening) linked through psychic thoughts to a serial killer (Robert Downey Jr.). That same year saw him tackle the remake of the Graham Greene novel THE END OF THE AFFAIR for Columbia Pictures, winning a BAFTA for Best Screenplay and a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Director.
In Neil's subsequent film, BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (2005), Cillian Murphy plays Patrick Braden, an endearing, but deceptively tough young man who is abandoned as a baby in his small Irish hometown. In 2007, Neil delivered THE BRAVE ONE, starring Jodi Foster and Terrance Howard.
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