Peter Morgan

Biography

An incisive playwright/screenwriter whose uncanny ability to capture the dramatic avatars of history's most notable leaders has earned him both critical acclaim and numerous awards, Peter Morgan credits his keen observational skills directly to his outsider status as a German-speaking adolescent growing up in South London. Born in April 1963 to a German Jewish father who had fled from Nazi Germany and a Polish Catholic mother who had escaped the Soviets, Morgan had a particularly difficult time connecting with his peers in the south of London due in large part to the language barrier, which made communication with classmates nearly impossible. Though standing apart from the pack can at times be a deeply troubling experience for a youngster, it provided the imaginative Morgan with a unique perspective not afforded to the vast majority of his peers. Morgan's father died of a heart attack when the future writer was just nine years old; however, the many thoughtful conversations shared between the pair about politics and world events before tragedy struck had lain the groundwork for Morgan's entire career.

Later, when Morgan found the English department at Leeds University a bit too stiflingly old-fashioned for his tastes, he switched to a fine arts degree in an attempt to try his hand at acting. A fateful panic attack during a production of Love's Labor Lost prompted Morgan to eschew the stage in favor of writing and directing, and a subsequent collaboration with fellow scribe Mark Wadlow resulted in a play entitled Gross -- which was inspired by the latter's brief experience working at a call center. It was during a performance at the Edinburgh Festival that Morgan and Wadlow were spotted by a talent scout, who subsequently hired the emerging 21-year-old and his partner to write a series of training films. Though not a particularly glamorous job, the training films did provide both writers with the opportunity to refine their writing skills and develop their own distinctive styles. After partnering one last time with Wadlow to refine the script for director John Schlesinger's Madame Sousatzka, the pair parted ways and Morgan was all set to strike out on his own.
Though to this point in his career Morgan had always had the luxury of bouncing his ideas off of another writer, it was now time to put his experience to the ultimate test. While a collaboration with British comedy icon Rik Mayall (Mickey Love) and an attempt to offer a new approach to the courtroom drama (The Jury) proved moderately popular with critics, Morgan's Oscar-nominated 1990 short Dear Rosie -- as well as his screenplays for such made-for-television dramas as Stephen Frears' The Deal and Pete Travis' Henry VIII -- truly established him as a talent to watch. A sizable success concerning the Tony Blair/Gordon Brown leadership pact, The Deal earned the writer a BAFTA Award for Best Single Drama.

Success continued when Morgan was nominated for both a BAFTA Award and a British Independent Film Award for his screenplay for The Last King of Scotland -- a haunting look at the legacy of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin which earned star Forest Whitaker an Golden Globe for Best Actor. Morgan also became the recipient of multiple awards including a British Independent Film Award and a Golden Globe for his screenplay to The Queen. By now it was well established that Morgan possessed a fearless and unusual ability to probe the minds of the ruling class, and soon thereafter director Ron Howard announced plans to adapt Morgan's riveting stage play detailing David Frost's hard-hitting 1977 interview with disgraced former American President Richard M. Nixon. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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