Richard Curtis was born in New Zealand in 1956 and raised in the Philippines, Sweden and the UK. He has now lived in London off and on for over 35 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 the topical sketch show 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 and Emma Thompson, in her first film. The film 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 and has become one of the world’s most famous comic creations. 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.
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.
Richard was co-writer of Mr Bean – the Ultimate Disaster Movie and 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 for HBO and the BBC -- a television drama based around the G8 summit starring Bill Nighy and Kelly McDonald, which won 3 Emmys. In the meantime he had also been writing the Vicar of Dibley, a sitcom about a female vicar in a small English village. Blackadder and The Vicar of Dibley were voted the 2nd and 3rd most popular British sitcoms of all time.
In 2008 he co-wrote the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency with Anthony Minghella, and wrote and directed a new comedy about a 1966 pirate radio station –- The Boat That Rocked (‘Pirate Radio’ in the US).
In 2010 he co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse”.
In 2012 , Phillip Noyce directed Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn in Richard’s TV movie “Mary and Martha”, a film for the BBC / HBO about two mothers who lose their sons to malaria.
In 2012 he wrote and directed About Time -– a film about love and time travel, starring Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy again.
In the other half of his life, 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 14 live nights of Comic Relief for the BBC since 1988. Comic Relief has made over $1 billion 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 is not married to Emma Freud and they 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.