Mike Figgis (1948-) b. Carlisle, Cumbria, England.
Born in Carlisle, England and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Figgis’ family relocated to Newcastle, England when he was eight. As a teenager he helped form an R&B band called the Gas Board, featuring future Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry. He studied music in London, and went on to work with an experimental theatre troupe known as The People Show. After leaving The People Show in 1980 he formed his own theatre company; The Mike Figgis Group. After being turned down by the National Film School, Figgis caught the eye of Channel Four, who financed his 60-minute TV movie, The House (1984). Figgis made his feature directorial and screenwriting debut with Stormy Monday (1988). A moody character study set against the backdrop of the Newcastle’s jazz scene and the underworld, it boasted an impressive cast including Melanie Griffith, Tommy Lee Jones and Sting. He earned probably his greatest recognition thus for his successful direction of Richard Gere and Andy Garcia in the police corruption thriller Internal Affairs (1990). The convoluted thriller Liebestraum (1991), did not fare so well at the box-office. He then went on to direct Richard Gere and Lena Olin in the disappointing Mr Jones (1993), the film was another commercial flop and Figgis complained of studio interference. Further commercial failure followed with a remake of Terence Rattigan’s play The Browning Version (1994), starring Albert Finney and Greta Scacchi, the film lacked the charm of Anthony Asquith’s 1950 version. He achieved widespread critical acclaim and box-office success for Leaving Las Vegas (1995), starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue; the film was an unsentimental portrait of an alcoholic screenwriter’s relationship with an abused prostitute. Figgis followed up this success two years later with One Night Stand (1997); a weak drama centring on the repercussions of adultery, it was a box-office and critical failure. Figgis returned in 1999, releasing the experimental The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999), a story revolving around a young man’s sexual evolution, and continued experimenting with different cinema forms with Miss Julie (1999), an adaptation of August Strindberg’s play about an illicit love affair between a Count’s daughter and her servant. Figgis’ most audacious and ambitious project to date was Time Code (2000), shot in a single day without a script and using four digital cameras, the split-screen psychological thriller received mixed reviews amid criticism of style over substance.