Peter Morgan

Morgan at a Hereafter press conference, 2010
Morgan at a Hereafter press conference, 2010
BornPeter Julian Robin Morgan
(1963-04-10) 10 April 1963 (age 61)
Wimbledon, London, England
OccupationScreenwriter, playwright
NationalityBritish
Alma materUniversity of Leeds
Period1988–present
GenreComedy, drama, historical fiction
Notable works
Spouse
Anna Schwarzenberg
(m. 1997; div. 2014)
PartnerJemmia Khan 2020 - present
Children5

Peter Julian Robin Morgan, CBE (born 10 April 1963) is a British screenwriter and playwright. He has written for theatre, films and television, often writing about historical events or figures such as Queen Elizabeth II, whom he has covered extensively in all major media. He has received a number of accolades including five BAFTA Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards as well as nominations for two Academy Awards, a Tony Award and a Laurence Olivier Award. In February 2017, Morgan was awarded a British Film Institute Fellowship.[1]

He is the playwright behind the plays Frost/Nixon (2005), The Audience (2013), and Patriots (2022), the former of which was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play. As a screenwriter, Morgan received Academy Award nominations for The Queen (2006) and Frost/Nixon (2008). He also wrote the screenplays for The Last King of Scotland (2006), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), The Damned United (2009), and Rush (2013). Morgan is also known for his work in television writing the ITV series The Jury (2002), the Channel 4 film The Deal (2003), and the HBO films Longford (2006), and The Special Relationship (2010). He served as creator and show-runner of the Netflix series The Crown (2016–2023).

Early life and education

Morgan was born in Wimbledon, London. His mother, Inga (née Bojcek), was a Catholic Pole who fled the Soviets, and his father, Arthur Morgenthau, was a German Jew who fled the Nazis, arriving in London in 1933.[2][3] His father died when Morgan was nine years old.[4] Morgan attended St Paul's School in London[5] and boarding school at Downside School, Somerset, and gained a degree in Fine Art from the University of Leeds.[citation needed]

Career

1988–2005: Early career

Morgan wrote television scripts during the 1990s, including an episode of Rik Mayall Presents... and the Comedy Premiere The Chest. He wrote the screenplay to the romantic comedy Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence (1998). He also served as additional writer for Madame Sousatzka (1988), co-writer on the short film Dear Rosie (1990), and wrote re-writes for the comedy King Ralph (1991). In 2002, Morgan had some success with the TV series The Jury (2002). In 2003, Morgan broke through with The Deal, a television drama about the power-sharing deal between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown that was struck in the Granita restaurant in London in 1994. Blair was portrayed by Michael Sheen, who would return to the role of Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship.

2006–2011: Breakthrough and acclaim

Morgan has written extensively about Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen (2006), The Audience (2013), and The Crown (2016–2023)

In 2006 The Queen was released, which showed how the death of Princess Diana impacted Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Royal Family. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival where it received critical acclaim. The film received 6 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. Morgan also received a nomination for Best Screenplay. Morgan received the Golden Globe Award for his screenplay from the Hollywood Foreign Press, and Helen Mirren won numerous awards for playing the title role including the Academy Award and the Golden Globe Award. 2006 also saw the release of The Last King of Scotland, the screenplay of which Morgan adapted with Jeremy Brock. In 2007 they jointly won a BAFTA Film Award for their work on the film. In May 2007, the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival honoured Morgan with the year's Kanbar Award for Excellence in Screenwriting.

Also in 2006, Morgan's first play, Frost/Nixon, was staged at the Donmar Warehouse theatre in London. Starring Michael Sheen as David Frost and Frank Langella as Richard Nixon, the play concerns the series of televised interviews that the disgraced former president granted Frost in 1977. These ended with his tacit admission of guilt regarding his role in the Watergate scandal. The play was directed by Michael Grandage and opened to enthusiastic reviews. The play transferred to Broadway in 2007 at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre where it ran from 21 April to 19 August. The play received three Tony Awards including one for Morgan for the Best Play. Langella won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

Howard directed Frost/Nixon (2008) based on the conversations between David Frost and Richard Nixon

In 2008, the film adaptation of Frost/Nixon directed by Ron Howard was released, with Sheen and Langella playing the parts they had on stage. The film also starred Kevin Bacon, Rebecca Hall, Mathew Macfadyen, Toby Jones, Oliver Platt, and Sam Rockwell. The film debuted at the London Film Festival to critical acclaim. Roger Ebert gave the film 4 stars praising the writing and the performances of the leads saying, "Frank Langella and Michael Sheen do not attempt to mimic their characters, but to embody them".[6] Despite praise from critics the film was a box office failure. The film received five Academy Award nominations including Best Adapted Screenplay for Morgan as well as for Best Picture losing to Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

In July 2009, filming began on the television film The Special Relationship, the third film of Morgan's "Blair trilogy". The film focuses on Blair's (again played by Michael Sheen) relationship with US president Bill Clinton, played by Dennis Quaid, between 1997 and 2000. The film also features Hope Davis as Hillary Clinton and Helen McCrory as Cherie Blair. Morgan was originally scheduled to direct the film (making his directorial debut) but pulled out a month before filming began. He was replaced by Richard Loncraine.[7] The film debuted on HBO on 29 May 2010. Barry Morgan of The Associated Press declared, "With its well-chosen cast and high production values, “Relationship” is an especially thoughtful, revealing and honest account of power and politics."[8] The film also received positive reviews overall receiving an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes with the consensus reading, "Well-cast and compellingly directed, The Special Relationship offers an intelligent look into the complex dynamic between two world leaders."[9] The film received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations including, for Outstanding Television Movie. Morgan was nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series or Television Movie losing to Adam Mazer for another HBO television movie You Don't Know Jack (2009).

In 2008, Morgan was initially set to adapt the John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy into a screenplay for Working Title Films but dropped out and served as the film's executive producer.[10] In June 2009, it was announced that he would be the co-writer of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film.[11] The Daily Telegraph's Mandrake diary reported in April 2010 that Morgan had quit the production after Sam Mendes was hired to direct, and that Patrick Marber would replace him. MGM dismissed the Telegraph's claims as speculation.[12] In the end Morgan did not receive credit but rather it was Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan who were credited as the film's screenwriters. He has since finished the script for Hereafter, a supernatural thriller "in the vein of The Sixth Sense". DreamWorks bought the screenplay on spec in March 2008.[13] The development was later transferred to Warner Bros. and filming began in October 2009 under the direction of Clint Eastwood.

2012–present: Career expansion

Freddie Mercury's life was depicted in Morgan's Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

In 2013, the film Rush was released. The film is a biographical sports film centred on the Hunt–Lauda rivalry between two Formula One drivers, the British James Hunt and the Austrian Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula 1 motor-racing season.[14] The film was directed by Ron Howard and written by Morgan and starred Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, and Olivia Wilde. The film was a financial and critical success. The film received four British Academy Film Award nominations including Outstanding British Film. In 2013, Morgan's play The Audience debuted. The play revolves around the weekly meetings, called audiences, between Queen Elizabeth II and her prime ministers over the time period of her reign. Dame Helen Mirren reprised her role as the Queen. The play premiered in the West End at the Gielgud Theatre where she eventually won the Olivier Award for Best Actress. A Broadway production opened in 2015 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre which ran from 8 March to 15 June. Mirren also received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.

Morgan's next feature film would be Bohemian Rhapsody (2018), a biopic about rock musician Freddie Mercury (portrayed by Rami Malek), the lead vocalist of the rock band Queen.[15] Morgan has started writing the screenplay in 2010. The film was a massive box office success earning $903.7 million. The film however received a mixed critical response with critics praising Malek's central performances but criticising its editing, directing and pacing. Time Magazine film critic Stephanie Zacharek wrote, "In strict filmmaking terms, Bohemian Rhapsody is a bit of a mess. Some of its scenes connect awkwardly, and it hits every beat of disaster and triumphs squarely, like a gong."[16] Despite its criticism, the film received various awards including four Academy Awards for Best Actor, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.

Morgan heavily profiled Queen Elizabeth II's public and private life in the Netflix series The Crown

Morgan is the creator and writer of the Netflix fictional historical drama series The Crown, a biographical story about the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The first season starred Claire Foy, Matt Smith, Vanessa Kirby, as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and Princess Margaret, respectively. Jared Harris and John Lithgow made supporting turns as King George VI and Winston Churchill. The series received widespread critical acclaim and received multiple Primetime Emmy Award nominations including a wins for Foy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and Lithgow for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. The casts saw changes for seasons 3 and 4 with Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies and Helena Bonham Carter replacing, Foy, Smith, and Kirby. Morgan received three Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series nominations for writing the episodes, "Assassins" (2016), "Mystery Man" (2017), and "Aberfan" (2019).

On 15 November 2020, the fourth series of The Crown was released to critical acclaim. According to the review-aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds 95% critics' consensus making it the highest rated series out of the six in total.[17] The season marks the introduction of Emma Corrin as Diana, Princess of Wales, and Morgan's then girlfriend Gillian Anderson as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, with Colman, Menzies, Bonham Carter and Josh O'Connor reprising their roles as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Princess Margaret and Prince Charles respectively. The fourth season was awarded the AFI Television Program of the Year for the fourth time in a row, four Golden Globes, including Best TV Series, a Critics' Choice Award for Best Drama, and 10 BAFTA nominations including Best Drama. In September 2021, the fourth season won in all 7 Emmys Drama Categories[18] and earned Netflix its first major win in the history of the streaming giant (Best Drama),[19] with Morgan receiving the award for Outstanding Writing. Prior to that, he received a WGA Award for Best Drama and a PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama for the fourth season. Season five of The Crown was released in November 2022 with the sixth and final season following in 2023.[20] Imelda Staunton, Jonathan Pryce and Lesley Manville played the respective roles of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Princess Margaret. Princess Diana and Prince Charles were played by Elizabeth Debicki and Dominic West.[21]

In May 2022 it was announced that Patriots, Morgan's first play since The Audience would preview at the Almeida Theatre in London from 2 July with an opening night on 12th and performances until 20 August. Set during the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, Patriots will follow a generation of oligarchs as they try to seize control of a new world. Tom Hollander would lead the cast as businessman Boris Berezovsky. The cast also includes Will Keen as Vladimir Putin, Yolanda Kettle and Luke Thallon. Rupert Goold would direct.[22] On 19 August 2022, after a successful run at the Almeida Theatre it was announced that Patriots would transfer to the Noël Coward Theatre in the West End from May 2023 for a 12-week run. Most of the original cast will reprise their role.[23]

In January 2024, it was announced that Patriots will transfer to Broadway for a 12-week limited engagement. Michael Stuhlbarg will star as Berezovsky and Will Keen will reprise his role as Putin and Luke Thallon will reprise his role as Abramovich. Lead producer of the Broadway production will be Sonia Friedman. Previews began on 1 April 2024, and opening night is scheduled for 22 April 2024 at Ethel Barrymore Theater.[24]

Personal life

Morgan was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to drama.[25] In July 2016, Morgan was presented with an honorary degree in Letters by the University of Leeds, his alma mater.[26] In February 2017, he was awarded a British Film Institute Fellowship (BFI).[1] In November 2019, Morgan was honoured by the American Film Institute with a tribute to his career at the AFI FEST 2019.[27] In June 2024 he was honoured with the Creator Tribute Award at the 1st Gotham TV Awards.

In 1997 he married Anna Carolina Schwarzenberg (b. 1968), daughter of Karel Schwarzenberg (1937–2023), head of the princely House of Schwarzenberg and former Czech foreign minister. They had five children, but separated in 2014.[28][29]

From 2016 to December 2020, he was in a relationship with actress Gillian Anderson.[30][31][32]

List of works

Film

Year Title Writer Producer Notes
1988 Madame Sousatzka Yes No Wrote additional material
1990 Dear Rosie Yes No Short; co-writer
1991 King Ralph Yes No Rewrites
1992 The Silent Touch Yes No Co-written with Mark Wadlow
1998 Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence Yes No
2006 The Queen Yes No
2006 The Last King of Scotland Yes No Co-written with Jeremy Brock
2008 The Other Boleyn Girl Yes No
2008 Frost/Nixon Yes Executive
2009 The Damned United Yes Executive
2009 State of Play Yes No Rewrites
2010 Hereafter Yes Executive
2011 360 Yes No
2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy No Executive
2013 Rush Yes Yes
2018 Bohemian Rhapsody Yes No
2022 My Father, The Prince No Yes
TBC Thrilla in Manila Yes No Working title; upcoming Ang Lee film

Television

Year Title Writer Producer Network Notes
1989 4 Play Yes No Channel 4 Episode: "Shalom Joan Collins"
1992 Inferno Yes No Television film
1993 Micky Love Yes No ITV Television film
1997 The Chest Yes No ITV Television film
2000 Metropolis Yes No ITV Miniseries; 5 episodes
2002 The Jury Yes Executive ITV Miniseries; 6 Episodes
2003 The Deal Yes Associate Channel 4 Television film
2003 Henry VIII Yes Executive ITV Television film
2005 Colditz Yes No ITV Miniseries; 2 episodes
2006 Longford Yes Executive Channel 4 Television film
2010 The Special Relationship Yes Executive HBO Television film
2013 National Theatre Live: The Audience Yes No National Theatre Live Television special
2014 The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies Yes Executive ITV 2 episodes
2016–2023 The Crown Yes Executive Netflix Also creator; 60 Episodes

Theatre

Year Title Notes Theatre
1986 Pax Britannica co-writer
2006 Frost/Nixon playwright Donmar Warehouse, London
Gielgud Theatre, West End
2007 Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Broadway
2013 The Audience playwright Gielgud Theatre, West End
2015 Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, Broadway
Apollo Theatre, West End (revival)
2022 Patriots [33] playwright Almeida Theatre, London
2023 Noël Coward Theatre, London West End
2024 Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway

Awards and nominations

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Peter Morgan

References

  1. ^ a b "The Crown writer Peter Morgan CBE to be awarded BFI Fellowship". British Film Institute. 2 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  2. ^ The Impersonator. (Peter Morgan)
  3. ^ Pacheco, Patrick (22 April 2007). "No sides, no prisoners". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015.
  4. ^ Hanks, Robert (24 February 2007) "Peter Morgan: Drama king", The Independent. Retrieved on 14 January 2009.
  5. ^ "The man who rewrites history". Evening Standard. 10 April 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  6. ^ "At the start, they both thought it would be Nixon/Frost". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (23 June 2009). "Peter Morgan leaves 'Relationship'". The Hollywood Reporter (Nielsen Business Media).
  8. ^ "The Special Relationship — TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. 14 October 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  9. ^ "The Special Relationship". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  10. ^ Martin, Francesca (4 June 2008). "Tinker, tailor, soldier, film star". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 June 2008.
  11. ^ The Queen writer to pen new Bond, BBC News, 13 June 2009
  12. ^ Eden, Richard (10 April 2010). "Sam Mendes in James Bond mystery". The Daily Telegraph (Telegraph Media Group).
  13. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (13 November 2008). "Eastwood, Spielberg talking thriller". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 18 November 2008.
  14. ^ "Niki Lauda on Rush, James Hunt and the crash that changed his life". telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Writer Announced for Freddie Mercury Biopic". Rolling Stone. 12 October 2010. Archived from the original on 15 October 2010. Retrieved 12 October 2010.
  16. ^ "Rami Malek Rises Above Bohemian Rhapsody's Messy Excess". Time Magazine. 31 October 2018. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  17. ^ "The Crown: Season 4". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  18. ^ "'The Crown' Makes Emmys History By Winning All 7 Drama Categories". Decider. 20 September 2021. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  19. ^ Koblin, John (20 September 2021). "With 'The Crown,' Netflix Finally Takes the Emmys Throne". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  20. ^ "The Crown will get a sixth season after all". Variety. 9 July 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  21. ^ "Dominic West Set to Play Prince Charles in Seasons 5 and 6 of 'The Crown'". Variety. 20 October 2020. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Tom Hollander to star in new Peter Morgan play 'Patriots'". londontheatre.co.uk. 6 May 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  23. ^ "Patriots to transfer to the West End". whatsonstage.com. 19 August 2022. Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  24. ^ Paulson, Michael (22 January 2024). "'Patriots,' About Putin's Falling Out With an Oligarch, Is Broadway Bound". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 March 2024.
  25. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N9.
  26. ^ "University announces honorary degrees 2016". University of Leeds. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  27. ^ "Gala Premiere of THE CROWN Season Three at AFI FEST 2019". American Film Institute. 17 October 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  28. ^ Sampson, Annabel (18 December 2020). "Inside Gillian Anderson's split from the creator of The Crown". Tatler. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  29. ^ VanHoose, Benjamin; Perry, Simon (18 December 2020). "Gillian Anderson and The Crown Creator Peter Morgan Split After Four Years Together". People. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  30. ^ Heyman, Marshall (24 October 2016). "A Crowning Achievement". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  31. ^ "Londoner's Diary: Goodbye to a likely lad and a lovely man". London Evening Standard. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  32. ^ Maycock, Selina (18 December 2020). "The Crown star Gillian Anderson has split from Peter Morgan the show's creator after 4 years together". GoodtoKnow.
  33. ^ "The Crown's Peter Morgan to premiere play about Russian oligarchs". The Guardian. 6 May 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2022.