Richard Curtis was born in New Zealand in 1956 and raised in the Phillippines, Sweden and the UK. He has now lived in London off and on for over 20 years. He began writing comedy after leaving Oxford University in 1978. He had worked with Rowan Atkinson there—and continued to do so. His first job on television was writing for all four series of NOT THE NINE O’CLOCK NEWS for the BBC. He then went on to write the BLACKADDER series, a situation comedy set in four different eras of British history, always starring Rowan Atkinson in a different amusing haircut. The last three series were co-written with Ben Elton.
During these years, Richard, Rowan and Ben staged two comedy revues in London’s West End and Richard wrote his first film, THE TALL GUY, directed by Mel Smith and starring Jeff Goldblum, Emma Thompson (in her film debut) and Rowan Atkinson as a cruel heartless comedian starring in a West End show. The film was not autobiographical and was produced by Working Title, the production company with whom Richard has always worked since.
Back on television, Richard and Rowan then began work on MR BEAN, and continued for some years to make intermittent programmes starring the man in the tie who says very little. In 1993, Richard wrote BERNARD AND THE GENIE, a wholesome Christmas fantasy starring Lenny Henry and Alan Cumming. In December 1993, Richard was awarded the Writers Guild of Great Britain Comedy Lifetime Achievement Award.
His second film, FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell, was directed by Mike Newell, produced by Duncan Kenworthy and released in March 1994. The film won a French Cesar, an Australian Academy Award and the BAFTA for Best Film. At the Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and Best Film.
In 1994, Richard was made an MBE and started writing THE VICAR OF DIBLEY, a situation comedy for the BBC, starring Dawn French as a female vicar in a small village suspiciously full of eccentric characters. The movie BEAN, co-written with Robin Driscoll, directed by Mel Smith and starring Rowan Atkinson opened in Britain at the end of August 1997. It is about Mr. Bean’s visit to America and has more dialogue in it than you would expect.
His next film, NOTTING HILL, starred Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant and was released in May 1999 – and for a while was the highest earning British film ever.
In 2001, Richard was co-writer of the award-winning screenplay BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY, starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and a nasty Hugh Grant.
In 2003 he wrote and directed LOVE ACTUALLY, a story about lots of different kinds of love, set at Christmas and featuring 22 leading characters. He was also co-writer of BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON.
In 2005 he wrote The Girl In The Cafe – a television drama based around the G8 summit which received three Emmy awards in 2006.
In 2008 he wrote and directed a new comedy about a 1966 pirate radio station – THE BOAT THAT ROCKED.
Richard Curtis is co-founder and vice-chairman of Comic Relief, the organisation which runs Red Nose Day and Sport Relief in Britain. He began the charity after a trip to Ethiopia during the famine of 1985. He has co-produced the 10 live nights of Comic Relief for the BBC since 1987. Comic Relief has made over £500,000,000 for charity projects in Africa and the U.K.
Richard was a founding member of the Make Poverty History coalition and worked throughout 2004 and 2005 on the campaign and Live 8, which concentrated on Trade Justice, More and Better Aid and Debt Cancellation for the world’s poorest countries.
Richard was Executive Producer of “Idol Gives Back” for American Idol in April 2007: the shows on Fox raised over $75 million for projects helping the poorest children and young people in the USA and Africa. “Idol Gives Back” received the 2007 Governor’s Emmy Award.
He and his partner Emma Freud have a daughter, Scarlett, and three sons, Jake, Charlie and Spike. In 2000, he was made a CBE. In 2007 he was awarded a BAFTA Fellowship.