Cinematographer Roger Deakins CBE BSC ASC is knighted in 2021 New Year Honours
Double Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins CBE BSC ASC has been knighted for services to film in the Queen’s 2021 New Year Honours.
Sir Roger, 71, is widely-regarded as one of the most influential cinematographers of all time, and, during a glittering career, his long-standing collaborations with filmmakers such as the Coen brothers, Sir Sam Mendes and Denis Villeneuve which have won him countless accolades and awards. He was also previously honoured by Queen Elizabeth II as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours, for “services to film.”
The Devon-born DP, who was originally turned down for at placement at the UK’s National Film School for photographic work that was not considered “filmic enough”, counts The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, A Beautiful Mind, Skyfall, Blade Runner 2049 and 1917 amongst his best-known motion picture productions. Undaunted by this early knock-back, he spent the following year photographing the local area’s rural life before being admitted to the prestigious UK school.
Embarking on a career as a cameraman, Sir Roger initially worked on documentaries, before moving on to music video projects in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1991, he began a long-term association with the Coen brothers, and shot 11 of their movies, including O Brother, Where Art Thou?, True Grit and No Country For Old Men.
Along the way, Sir Roger garnered prestigious awards from BAFTA, the ASC and BSC, but also earned a remarkable notoriety for his lack of success at the Oscars after receiving 13 nominations – the first in 1994 for The Shawshank Redemption – but with no wins.
However, he finally won the coveted Oscar statuette in 2018 for Blade Runner 2049 – when he modestly said that the secret of his success was, “I really love my job”. He returned to the ceremony’s stage in 2020 to collect the cinematographic gong for the WW1 film 1917, which was shot to appear as one long continuous take.
Sir Roger married script supervisor Isabella James Purefoy Ellis in 1991. Since then, she has overseen the digital workflow on many films, and the pair have worked together on various projects, including Blade Runner 2049, The Goldfinch and 1917.
Since 2005, Sir Roger has maintained a website through which he frequently communicates with admirers and industry professionals, offering cinematography tips. Since April 2020 he and his wife have hosted the hugely-popular Team Deakins podcast, whose guests have included Sam Mendes, John Crowley, and Denis Villeneuve.