Philip Kaufman biography

Philip Kaufman

Date of Birth: October 23, 1936

Born in Chicago, Kaufman grew up on the north side, attending the University of Chicago and later, Harvard Law School.

After a year at Harvard, Kaufman returned to U of C to begin his master's degree program in History.

In 1960 he headed his family to San Francisco Bay area before relocating them again to Europe after finding himself enthralled by the new wave of filmmaking and filmmakers breaking over the pond.

In 1962, he returned to Chicago where he met Anäis Nin at U of C. After telling her about a story idea he was considering making into a movie, she encouraged him to become a filmmaker. One year later, he turned an unfinished novel he was working on into his first film, the mystical comedy Goldstein. Winning the Prix de la Nouvelle Critique at the Cannes Festival, Kaufman got right back to work with Fearless Frank, a comic book satire.

Two years later Kaufman was in Hollywood, under contract to Universal.

In the '70s Kaufman was making such notable films as the revisionist Jesse James western The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid (1972); the Arctic adventure tale The White Dawn (1975); Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978), a remake of the classic Don Siegel science-fictioner; and The Wanderers (1979), a stylish reminiscence of high school life in early-1960s New York.

In the '80s and '90s Kaufman established himself as a major writer/director with The Right Stuff (1983), a chronicle of the American space program.

The film went on to win four Academy Awards as well as Writers Guild and Directors Guild Award nominations.

Kaufman went on to complete The Unbearable Lightness Of Being (1988), which earned Kaufman his second Writers Guild nomination, an Oscar nomination and a BAFTA award; and the bisexual romance Henry & June (1990). Taken from Anäis Nin's memoirs of her relationship with Henry Miller and his wife June, this film was also a major factor in the development of a new MPAA rating, NC-17 which created much controversy.

Kaufman has been equally lauded as a writer. He wrote the original screenplay for Raiders of the Lost Ark with George Lucas and 1975's The Outlaw Josey Wales, which he was supposed to direct, but was replaced by Clint Eastwood.

After Rising Sun (1993) starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes, Kaufman wouldn't direct again until 1999 when he completed Quills, about the notorious writer Marquis de Sade who spends his last days in an insane asylum, starring Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet.

He is married to Rose Fisher who co-wrote the screenplays The Wanderers, and Henry & June with Kaufman.

Philip Kaufman Filmography



  • Rising Sun (1993)
  • Indiana Jed (1992) (V) (stories)
  • Henry & June (1990)
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)
  • The Right Stuff (1983)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (story)
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
  • The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid (1972)
  • Fearless Frank (1967)
  • Goldstein (1965)

Philip Kaufman Photo