Hear My Song
After a ten year of acting career, Peter Chelsom changed focus to directing and writing films. He gained considerable international acclaim and a BAFTA nomination for his first directing effort, the short “Treacle” (1988), but the British born director did not direct his first feature length movie until 1991 with “Hear My Song.” The comedy/drama film earned him his second BAFTA nomination thanks for his fine writing job, as well as an Evening Standard British Film Award and the London Critics Circle Film ALFS Award. His next film, “Funny Bones” (1995), which he directed, wrote and produced, brought him two Brussels International Film Festival Awards, an Evening Standard British Film Award, the London Critics Circle Film ALFS Award, the Dinard British Film Festival Golden Hitchcock and an Emden International Film Festival Award. The follow up “The Mighty” (1998) won him two Giffoni Film Festival Awards. Following a box office flop, “Town & Country” (2001), from which he was nominated for Worst Director at the Razzie Awards, Chelsom scored his first box office success with “Serendipity” (2001), a romance/comedy film starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. He followed it up with “Shall We Dance” (2004) and “Hannah Montana: The Movie” (2009), both of which were also commercial hits.
Childhood and Family:
Peter Chelsom was born on April 20, 1956, in Blackpool, Lancashire, England, to antiques shop owners Kay and Reginald Chelsom. He was trained as a photographer before securing a place at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
Peter married his wife Lindsay McCracken on April 27, 2002.
Peter Chelsom kicked off a career in acting soon after completing his training at London's Central School of Drama. For the next teen years, he appeared in the theatre productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, and the Royal Court Theatre, as well as in television series and films before eventually switching focus behind the camera as director and writer.
Chelsom made his television acting debut in an episode of “BBC2 Playhouse” called “School Play” (1979). The following year, he had his first feature film appearance in “The American Success Company” (1980), a comedy/drama starring Jeff Bridges, Belinda Bauer and Ned Beatty and directed by William Richert. The same year, he also made his first TV film appearance in the BAFTA Award winning drama/musical “Cream in My Coffee,” where he was cast as Young Bernard. The cast also included Lionel Jeffries, Peggy Ashcroft, Martin Shaw and Shelagh McLeod. He then appeared as a very young doctor in the 1982 episode “Intensive Care” of “Play for Today,” co-starred with Alan Bates, Coral Browne and Charles Gray in the award winning BBC film “An Englishman Abroad” (1983), which was helmed by John Schlesinger, played Kit Sorrell in the TV miniseries “ Sorrell and Son” (1984), opposite Richard Pasco, John Shrapnel and Gwen Watford, and reunited with Watford in “Not That Kind of People” (1984), an episode of “Weekend Playhouse.”
In 1985, Chelsom landed the starring role of Alan in the TV film “Time and the Conways,” alongside Nicholas Le Prevost and Mel Martin, played the leading role of Nigel Playfayre in the film “Christmas Present,” which was directed and written by Tony Bicât, narrated the animated TV series “Bill the Minder” and played the role of Edwin Fairley in the syndicated TV miniseries “ A Woman of Substance,” opposite Jenny Seagrove, Barry Bostwick and Deborah Kerr. He also co-starred with Susannah York and Ian Richardson in the TV film “Star Quality,” playing Bryan Snow. 1985 also found Chelsom directing at the Central School of Drama, where he ran a film and television course between 1985 and 1998. It was also in that same year that he met his future leading man, Adrian Dunbar, while both were members of the Royal Court Theater Company in Liverpool.
In 1987, Chelsom was cast in the lead role of Oliver Sutherland in the British drama film “Indian Summer,” opposite Shelagh McLeod as Caroline Sutherland. The same year, he also taught a course for New York actors at Cornell University under the aegis of the Royal National Theatre. In 1988, he played Cleante in “The Miser,” which was included in the TV series “ Theatre Night.” It marked his last TV acting gig to date.
Chelsom directed about 16 television commercials, many of which
earning awards, before making his film directing debut with an 11
minute Channel Four short, “Treacle” (1988), starring
Ken Goodwin, Stephen Tompkinson and Freddie Davies. The film brought
him a 1988 BAFTA Film nomination in the category of Best Short Film.
It was three years later that Chelsom made his feature directorial
debut with “Hear My Song” (1991), which he co-wrote with
the film's star Adrian Dunbar, based on the story of Irish tenor
Josef Locke. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film
Festival on September 7, 1991. Chelsom won a 1993 Evening Standard
British Film for Most Promising Newcomer and London Critics Circle
Film's ALFS Award for British Newcomer of the Year as well as was
nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay – Original
for his work in the film.
In 1995, Chelsom produced, co-wrote (with Peter Flannery) and helmed his second film, “Funny Bones,” a comedy/drama starring Oliver Platt, Jerry Lewis, Lee Evans, Leslie Caron, Richard Griffiths, Sadie Corre, Oliver Reed, George Carl, Freddie Davies and Ian McNeice. The film brought Chelsom several awards such as Audience Award and Crystal Star for Best European Feature at the 1996 Brussels International Film Festival, Peter Sellers Award for Comedy from the 1996 Evening Standard British Film Awards, London Critics Circle Film's ALFS Award for British Producer of the Year, Golden Hitchcock from the 1995 Dinard British Film Festival and the Grand Prix at the 1995 Paris Film Festival.
In 1998, Chelsom helmed Elden Henson, Kieran Culkin, Sharon Stone, Gena Rowlands and Harry Dean Stanton in “The Mighty,” a film adaptation of Rodman Philbrick's book, “Freak the Mighty.” Centering on the relationship between two youths, the drama was nominated for Golden Globes for Best Original Song - Motion Picture for the song “The Mighty” and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for Stone. Chelsom won Silver Gryphon and Young People's Jury Award at the 1998 Giffoni Film Festival for his efforts.
Chelsom directed Goldie Hawn, Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton and Garry Shandling in the 2001 comedy film “Town & Country,” which received mostly negative reviews from critics and was a bomb at the box office. He was nominated for a Razzie in the category of Worst Director for the film. The same year, Chelsom also helmed John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale in the hit romance/comedy film “Serendipity.” The film opened at No. 2 at the U.S. box office with over $13.3 million in its opening weekend. The film went on to gross over $77.5 million, against a budget of $28 million. “Serendipity” became his first box office success following a string of failures.
In 2004, Chelsom helmed “Shall We Dance,” the American remake of the award winning Masayuki Suo Japanese film, “Shall” (1996). Starring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, the film earned good reviews from critics and was a box office success. With an original budget of $50 million, the film earned $57,890,460 in the domestic market and $112,238,000 in the foreign market for a total of $170,128,460 internationally.
Chelsom returned with another box office hit with the film adaptation of the popular Disney TV series, “Hannah Montana: The Movie” (2009). The film grossed $79,576,189 in the United States and Canada, and $75,969,090 overseas for a total of $155,545,279 worldwide. The budget was $35 million.
Giffoni Film Festival: Silver Gryphon, “The Mighty,” 1998
Giffoni Film Festival: Young People's Jury Award, “The Mighty,” 1998
Brussels International Film Festival: Audience Award, “Funny Bones,” 1996
Brussels International Film Festival: Crystal Star, Best European Feature, “Funny Bones,” 1996
London Critics Circle Film: ALFS Award, British Producer of the Year, “Funny Bones,” 1996
Evening Standard British Film: Peter Sellers Award, Comedy, “Funny Bones,” 1996
Dinard British Film Festival: Golden Hitchcock, “Funny Bones,” 1995
Emden International Film Festival: Emden Film Award, “Funny Bones,” 1995
Paris Film Festival: Grand Prix, “Funny Bones,” 1995
London Critics Circle Film: ALFS Award, British Newcomer of the Year, “Hear My Song,” 1993
Evening Standard British Film: Most Promising Newcomer, “Hear My Song,” 1991