Jan de Bont is a Dutch cinematographer turned film director and producer. He first became known in his native country as the cinematographer for Paul Verhoeven's successful film, “Turkish Delight” (1973). They also collaborated on Verhoeven's feature debut, “Diary of a Hooker” (1971), “Keetje Tippel” (1975), “The Fourth Man” (1983), “Flesh & Blood” (1985) and “Basic Instinct” (1992). De Bont, however, did not gain true fame in the United States until he made his directing debut with the action/thriller movie “Speed” (1994), which was a critical and commercial success. He netted a Saturn nomination for his efforts. De Bont went on to helm box office hits such as “Twister” (1996) and “The Haunting” (1999), but had a major failure with the installment “Speed 2: Cruise Control” (1997), from which he received three Razzie nominations for Worst Director, Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay. De Bont also produced “Minority Report” (2002) and directed “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” (2003).
Currently, De Bont resides in Los Angeles with his wife Trish Reeves and two children. He was previously married to Dutch actress Monique van de Ven (from 1973-1988).
One of 17 Children
Childhood and Family:
Jan de Bont was born on October 22, 1943, in Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands, to a Roman Catholic family with 17 children. He started making 9mm films when he was 10 years old, and by the time he reached high school, he had moved into 16mm. He attended the National Film Academy in Amsterdam.
In 1973, Jan married Dutch actress Monique van de Ven, but they later divorced in 1988. Monique starred in the film “Turkish Delight” (1973), where Jan served as cinematographer. He then married Trish Reeves, with whom he has two children, Alexander de Bont and Anneke de Bont. Jan is the brother of cinematographer Peter De Bont.
Jan de Bont began his career as director of photography in his native country, the Netherlands. His first film, “Paranoia,” was directed by Adriaan Ditvoorst. He went on to work with Ditvoorst in “Carna” (short, 1969) and “De blinde fotograaf” (1973) and other directors such as Rene Daalder (1969's “The White Slave”) and Wim Verstappen (1969's “Drop-out” and 1971's “Blue Movie”), Frans Rasker (1972's “Kapsalon”) and George Sluizer (1971's “Joao”), among others.
De Bont initiated his partnership with Paul Verhoeven in the 20 minute drama “De worstelaar” (1970), which marked the last of Verhoeven's shorts. The two reunited for Verhoeven's first feature film, “Diary of a Hooker” (1971), but De Bont did not gain first real fame until he did the cinematography for Verhoeven's “Turkish Delight” (1973), starring Monique van de Ven, Rutger Hauer and Tonny Huurdeman. The drama/romance film went on to become one of the most successful films of the Dutch cinema and was a huge success at the Dutch box office. In 1974, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and it later won the Golden Calf for Best Dutch Film of the Century (Beste Nederlandse Film van de Eeuw) at the 1999 Netherlands Film Festival.
De Bont and Verhoeven continued on their fruitful collaboration on “Keetje Tippel” (1975), starring De Bont's then wife, Monique van de Ven. The film, which is based on the memoirs of Neel Doff (1858–1942), marked the most expensive Dutch film produced up to that time and was a massive box office success in the Netherlands. The two would reunite for the 1983 suspense film “The Fourth Man,” an adaptation of the novel “De Vierde Man” by Gerard Reve, which was a modest box office hit in the Netherland, but enjoyed more success in the United States where it earned widespread critical acclaim, and “Flesh & Blood” (1985).
De Bont moved to Los Angeles in 1977, and made his American debut as a cinematographer with “Private Lessons,” a 1981 controversial comedy film directed by Alan Myerson and starring Sylvia Kristel, Howard Hesseman, Eric Brown, and Ed Begley, Jr. He went on to work on Noel Marshall's “Roar” (1981), Jack Hofsiss' “I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can” (1982), the film adaptation of Stephen King's “Cujo” (1983), was directed by Lewis Teague from a screenplay by Lauren Currier and starred Dee Wallace and Danny Pintauro, “All the Right Moves” (1983), a drama film directed by Michael Chapman and starring Tom Cruise, Craig T. Nelson, Lea Thompson, Chris Penn, and Gary Graham, the smash hit comedy “Ruthless People” (1986), which was jointly directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker, the Madonna starring vehicle “Who's That Girl” (1987) and “Leonard Part 6” (1987), a comedy film directed by Paul Weiland and starred Bill Cosby. De Bont also did the cinematography for the highly acclaimed action movie “Die Hard” (1988), directed by John McTiernan, Ridley Scott's box office hit, “Black Rain” (1989), starring Michael Douglas and Andy García, and Carl Reiner's musical film, “Bert Rigby, You're a Fool” (1989). In the 1980s, De Bont also did a few television projects, including the TV miniseries “Sadat” (1983) and the made for TV film “Heart of a Champion: The Ray Mancini Story” (1985).
In early 1990s, De Bont continued on working as cinematographer on John McTiernan's thriller movie, “The Hunt for Red October” (1990), Joel Schumacher's “Flatliners” (1990), David Seltzer's “Shining Through” (1992), Richard Donner's “Lethal Weapon 3” (1992) and the erotic thriller “Basic Instinct” (1992), which marked his reunion with Paul Verhoeven after seven years. On the small screen, he received a a CableACE nomination for Best direction of Photography in a Comedy or Dramatic Series for “Split Personality” (1992), an episode of HBO's “Tales from the Crypt” directed by producer Joel Silver.
In 1994, De Bont entered the world of directing with the critically and commercially successful action/thriller movie “Speed,” starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Released on June 10, 1994, the film debuted at No. 1 on the US box office with $14.5 million on its opening weekend. It went on to gross $121.3 million at the domestic market and $229.2 million internationally for a worldwide total of $350.5 million. “Speed” won two Oscars for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing and Best Sound and was nominated for the Best Film Editing category. In 1995, De Bont was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Director for his work in the film.
Two years later, De Bont returned to the director's chair to helm Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton on the disaster/thriller movie “Twister” (1996), which opened to a record breaking $41.2 million in its first weekend. The film went on to gross over $494 million worldwide against an estimated $75 million budget.
Also in 1996, De Bont formed a production company called Blue Tulip Productions. He made his producing debut with “Speed 2: Cruise Control” (1997), the sequel to 1994's “Speed,” on which which he also served as director and contributed story. Starring Bullock, who reprised her role from the first film, along with Jason Patric and Willem Dafoe, the film received generally negative reviews from critics and was a flop at the box office. The film brought De Bont three Razzie nominations for Worst Director, Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay. In 1998, he served as executive producer on “SLC Punk!,” a comedy film directed and written by James Merendino.
In 1999, De Bont directed and executive produced the horror remake “The Haunting,” starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor. Despite negative reviews from critics, the film enjoyed a commercial success. It grossed over $177 million worldwide, with a budget of $80 million. De Bont received a Razzie nomination for Worst Director for his work.
De Bont resurfaced in 2002 when he produced “Minority Report,” a critically acclaimed science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton and Max von Sydowand, and Kurt Wimmer's science fiction/action film “Equilibrium,” which gained a negative reception and was a box office disappointment. In the following year, he executive produced the action/crime movie “Thoughtcrimes,” by Breck Eisner.
Still in 2003, De Bont resumed his directing career by directing Angelina Jolie in “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life,” the sequel to 2001's film “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.” The film grossed over $156.5 million worldwide against a budget of $95 million.
De Bont is set to direct the upcoming English language 3D action film “Mulan,” starring Zhang Ziyi as the titular heroine.