Jonathan Demme Photo

Jonathan Demme Bio

Jonathan Demme Biography

Jonathan Demme

Date of Birth: February 22, 1944

Jonathan Demme was born in New York, but moved to Florida with his family when he was young. He attended the University of Florida with the idea of becoming a veterinarian, but dropped the idea when it became clear he didn’t have a talent for chemistry. He was writing film reviews for his college newspaper when his father, a public relations director, introduced him to producer Joseph E. Levine. Levine was impressed by Demme’s reviews and hired him to write press releases in New York City. In the late 1960s, he relocated to London, England, where he signed on as unit publicist for entrepreneur Roger Corman. Corman gave Demme his first movie job in 1970, creating a rock score for the feature Eyewitness. Afterwards, Corman invited him to relocate to Los Angeles, where he graduated to writing scripts for films. Demme made his directorial debut with Caged Heat (1974), which he also wrote. During this time he met and married his first wife, producer Evelyn Purcell.

Along the way, Demme has earned many awards for his work, including the New York Film Critics Circle Award in 1980 for Melvin and Howard and the Academy Award® for Best Director for Silence of the Lambs (1991). His next big hit was the AIDS drama Philadelphia (1993), for which Tom Hanks won a Best Actor Oscar.

In addition to producing, writing and directing, Demme has appeared in several films as an actor, including The Incredible Melting Man (1977) and That Thing You Do (1996), written and directed by Tom Hanks (who also starred in the flick) and produced by Demme.

In 2002, he returned to screenwriting for the first time since 1976 with The Truth About Charlie, a remake of one of Demme’s all-time favorite movies, the 1963 romantic thriller Charade. In addition to writing the script, he produced and directed the film, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton. Demme's most recent project is the documentary Neil Young Journeys (2012), which documents the singer's concert at Toronto's Massey Hall. The film also includes scenes of Young's road trip through Ontario. The director has worked on several projects in the past about the iconic singer.

Demme is married to Joanne Howard, his second wife, with whom he has three children. His nephew, director Ted Demme, died in early 2002 while playing in a charity basketball game.

Filmography (Director):

Wally and Andre Shoot Ibsen (2013)
Enzo Avitabile Music Life (2012)
Neil Young Journeys(2012)
I'm Carolyn Parker (2011)
Neil Young Trunk Show(2009)
Rachel Getting Married(2008)
Jimmy Carter Man from Plains (2007)
Neil Young: Heart of Gold(2006)
The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
The Agronomist(2003)
The Truth About Charlie(2002)
Beloved(1998)
Storefront Hitchcock (1998)
The Complex Sessions (1994)
Philadelphia(1993)
Cousin Bobby (1992)
The Silence Of The Lambs(1991)
Famous All Over Town (1988)
Married to the Mob (1988)
Swimming to Cambodia(1987)
Something Wild(1986)
Stop Making Sense (1984)
Swing Shift (1984)
Melvin and Howard (1980)
Last Embrace (1979)
Handle with Care (1977)
Fighting Mad (1976)
Crazy Mama (1975)
Caged Heat(1974)

Filmography

DirectorNeil Young Journeys (2012)
DirectorNeil Young Trunk Show (2010)
DirectorRachel Getting Married (2008)
DirectorThe Agronomist (2004)
ProducerThe Agronomist (2004)
ProducerAdaptation (2002)
DirectorBeloved (1998)
ProducerBeloved (1998)