Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
“I think English filmmaking has always been a bit up its own ass. It traditionally has just lacked entertainment. Apart from people like David Lean, I think English filmmaking has always been better-suited for the TV rather than the cinema, and I wanted to spice things up a bit.” Guy Ritchie
British director/writer Guy Ritchie is widely appreciated and known as the writer-director of the highly successful Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), wherein he took home such awards as a BAFTA award, a Tokyo International Film Festival award and a MTV Movie award. One of the hottest filmmakers in the U.K, Ritchie continued to make an impression with the acclaimed and blockbuster hit Snatch (2002). His directing credits include short films The Hard Case (1995) and The Hire: Star (2001), the Madonna disappointing vehicle Swept Away (2002 and the lackluster crime/thriller Revolver (2005).
“I can understand that the whole world is interested in my wife. That’s even why I married her.” Guy Ritchie on Madonna
On a more personal note, Ritchie is married to the decade-older, multimedia megastar Madonna and has one son with her. Recently, their marriage is rumored to have been in trouble. The speculations had been fuelled by Madonna when she did not wear her wedding ring at the Brit Awards in London. She also confessed her marriage is not that great due to the strain of their busy careers. But, she later rubbished the gossips and stated, “Guy’s not a househusband and I’m not a typical wife, so you can imagine, we have our clashes. But I think we always keep our eye on the ball - that is our marriage - the union of us, the things that we create together, are bigger than the petty fights we have.”
Ritchie’s private life has also been linked to the daughter of British tycoon Michael Green, Rebecca Green. Ritchie’s short film The Hard Case (1995) was reportedly financed by Green’s parents.
A Black Belt
Childhood and Family:
Son of the successful advertising executive John Ritchie, who was famous for his work on Hamlet cigars commercials, and former model Amber, Guy Stuart Ritchie was born on September 10, 1968, in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. His parents separated when he was only five and both later remarried. Following the divorce, Guy spent much of his youth at the 17th century home of his baronet stepfather, Sir Michael Leighton, until he divorced Guy’s mother in 1980. Guy has a sister named Tabitha Ritchie. She manages a dance center in Fulham, England.
Dyslexic, Guy was expelled from Stanbridge Earls School in Romsey, Hampshire, England, at age 15. Inspired to become a filmmaker at a very young age, Guy managed only a GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) in film studies. He married megastar Madonna on December 22, 2000, at Skibo Castle in Scotland, a few months after their son Rocco Ritchie was born. The couple became romantically involved in 1999 after being introduced by wife of pop star Sting, Trudie Styler. Guy, who holds a black belt in Karate, and Madonna are both supporters of the quasi-mystical Kabbalah Center and donate money and time to the organization. A successful celebrity couple, Ritchie and Madonna have homes in Los Angeles, New York and London, in addition to their country retreat, Ashcombe House.
15-year-old Guy Ritchie dropped out of school and began working construction jobs two years later before finally setting his sights on a filmmaking career at age 25. Starting out as a film runner, Ritchie soon progressed and had moved on to direct music videos and commercials by age 27. A self-confessed movie buff, Ritchie had always been passionate about making films, having been inspired after watching Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid as a child. With the earnings collected from helming music videos and commercials, he invested them into writing and making a 20-minute short, The Hard Case (1995). When it was broadcasted on Channel 4, the film captured the attention of Sting’s wife, Trudie Styler, who soon agreed to serve as an executive producer for Ritchie’s next project.
Ritchie’s big breakthrough arrived three years later when he made a feature film directing debut and wrote Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, a highly stylized crime caper set in London’s End. When the film was completed, however, Ritchie faced the difficult prospect of getting the film distributed and was rejected by many British film distributors before finally capturing the attention and enthusiasm of Tom Cruise. It was distributed by a North American Distributor, Columbia Tristar, and then was picked up in the U. K. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels became one of the year’s biggest, home-grown successes in the United Kingdom and went on to become the third highest grossing British film of all time. As for Ritchie, who also co-scripted such amazing characters as Hatchet Harry, Barry the Baptist and Big Chris, he was widely recognized as one of the hottest young filmmakers in Britain, and his spectacular efforts were handed several awards, including a 1998 BAFTA, a 1998 Tokyo International Film Festival for Best Director and a 1999 MTV Movie for Best New Filmmaker. In addition, the film also introduced actor Jason Statham to worldwide audiences and set former football player Vinnie Jones onto a new career as a film actor.
Armed with the film’s phenomenal success, Ritchie co-wrote and produced “Lock, Stock and Four Stolen Hooves” (2000), the pilot for a seven-part English TV series version of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (for Channel 4). The same year, he also sat on the director’s chair to guide Hollywood big names like Brad Pitt, Benicio del Toro and Dennis Farina, and Lock, Stock...stars Jason Statham, Vinnie Jones and Jason Flemyng for another crime caper movie Snatch. The film was a critical and commercial sensation.
Following his marriage to Madonna, Ritchie began his onscreen collaboration with his famous wife, directing her in a controversial music video for the hit song “What It Feels Like for a Girl” that featured Madonna running people down with a car. The couple reunited for a short film, The Hire: Star (2001), part of a five-episode series of car-oriented vignettes featured on the website for automaker BMW, and a wide screen-movie, Swept Away (2002), a remake of the 1960s Italian hit film of the same name. Unfortunately, when it was released in America, Swept Away was ill-received by audiences and critics alike.
After a few years’ hiatus from filmmaking, Ritchie made his return by taking the duties of writer and director of the 2005 Revolver, which was released to lackluster reviews. The crime/thriller film starred one of his favorites, Jason Statham, as well as Ray Liotta and Vincent Pastore.