Academy Award-nominated and Bafta-winning producer Stephen Woolley has produced and executive produced nearly sixty films in his storied career, including some of the most acclaimed and successful British and International films of the past three decades.
Born in London, Woolley began his career selling ice creams and projecting films at The Screen On the Green, Islington in 1976..
In the late seventies, Woolley owned and ran his own repertory cinema, The Scala, in London – then the hippest movie house in the world. Woolley then launched Palace Pictures (1982-92) in partnership with Nik Powell, acquiring, marketing and distributing some 250 independent and European movies including: The Evil Dead, Paris, Texas, Diva, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Blood Simple, When Harry Met Sally, The Snowman and Kiss of the Spider Woman. Executive Producer credits from this period include Letter to Brezhnev, Purely Belter, Little Voice, Hardware, Fever Pitch and 24:7.
At the same time, in 1983, Woolley’s long-term filmmaking partnership with director Neil Jordan began with The Company of Wolves. He went on to produce the multi Oscar-nominated trio Mona Lisa starring Bob Hoskins, Michael Collins starring Liam Neeson, The End of the Affair starring Ralph Fiennes, as well as Interview with the Vampire starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, and the Oscar-winning The Crying Game, for which Woolley was nominated for an Academy Award and was awarded Producer of the Year by the Producer’s Guild of America. Together they also made The Butcher Boy, The Good Thief, High Spirits, In Dreams, The Miracle and Breakfast on Pluto. During that time, Woolley also produced the multi award-winning Scandal, Absolute Beginners, A Rage in Harlem, Shag, The Big Man, Hardware and Backbeat.
As co-founder of Number 9 Films alongside producing partner Elizabeth Karlsen, he recently produced Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, adapted by Phyllis Nagy, directed by Todd Haynes, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. As well as co-producing Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel – both of which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim. Carol earned Rooney Mara a Best Actress award at Cannes and went on to receive six Oscar nominations, including Best Actress in A Leading Role and nine BAFTA nominations, including Best Film. Youth went on to win Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor at the EFA Awards and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song.
Woolley’s previous Number 9 projects include Byzantium, starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, directed by Neil Jordan; Hyena, by director Gerard Johnson; When Did You Last See Your Father? starring Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth; How to Lose Friends and Alienate People starring Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst; Sounds Like Teen Spirit; Perrier’s Bounty starring Cillian Murphy; Mike Newell’s Great Expectations, adapted by David Nicholls and starring Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter; and Made in Dagenham starring Sally Hawkins and Bob Hoskins, which was nominated for four BAFTAs, and was adapted into a West End musical starring Gemma Arterton. In 2005, Woolley made his directorial debut with the acclaimed sixties biopic Stoned, the story of Brian Jones, who founded the Rolling Stones.
Number 9’s most recent UK release is an adaptation of Lissa Evans’ novel “Their Finest Hour and a Half”, THEIR FINEST, starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy, and directed by Lone Scherfig. The film premiered at last year’s Toronto Film Festival to critical acclaim. Alongside ON CHESIL BEACH, forthcoming productions include THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM, which also premiered at last year’s TIFF and is due for release through Lionsgate in the UK on 1st September 2017, and the recently completed COLETTE, Wash Westmoreland’s (STILL ALICE) biopic of the renowned turn of the century French writer, starring Keira Knightley and Dominic West.
Stephen has been a member of the American Academy for over twenty years and was chairman of the BAFTA Film Committee for ten years.
Stephen Woolley is appearing at the following sessions:
Few producers have dominated the UK industry in such a vibrant, dynamic and courageous way as Stephen Woolley. Get the inside track on how he consistently found traction for filmmakers and screenwriters for decades.