Film director expresses delight after finally collecting knighthood

·3-min read

Playwright and film director Sir Christopher Hampton has expressed his delighted at receiving his knighthood after Covid-19 delayed him from picking up the honour.

The screenwriter and translator collected the knighthood he was awarded in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list for services to drama on Thursday.

It had also taken a couple of weeks to receive his Oscar for best adapted screenplay for The Father in April.

Sir Christopher, 75, described collecting his knighthood, with his daughter Mary nearby, from the Princess Royal as “great” and “lovely” after a scaled-down ceremony at London’s St James’s Palace.

He co-wrote The Father with the film’s French director Florian Zeller.

He joked that his Oscar statuette arrived a couple of weeks after the “weird” Academy Awards ceremony.

He said lockdown had taken a little while to get used to, but he is “certainly now as busy as ever”.

Investitures at St James’s Palace
Sir Christopher Hampton is knighted by the Princess Royal (Aaron Chown/PA)

Sir Christopher said: “At the very beginning (of lockdown) it was quite bewildering and then I suddenly realised that this is what writers are always asking for – quiet and time – so I actually got quite a lot of work done.”

He added: “It has been lovely and generally speaking all of this easing up is just great but I am slightly concerned that they are doing it too quickly. We shall see.”

Sir Christopher said he is in pre-production with his next film, which he joked “is slightly unimaginatively called The Son”, and it will start shooting on August 16.

It is part of a trilogy – The Father, The Mother and The Son – by Zeller.

Oscar winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins “has agreed to do a very small cameo which we wrote for him”, Sir Christopher said.

He was already an Oscar winner before this year’s triumph.

He is the writer behind the film Dangerous Liaisons and has crafted a vast and varied body of work across a five-decade career.

There has been his acclaimed stage adaptation of the book Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and his subsequent screenplay for the 1988 film version starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer.

It won him both an Oscar and a Bafta for best adapted screenplay.

Investitures at St James’s Palace
Playwright Sir Christopher Hampton shows off his knighthood (Victoria Jones/PA)

He received another nomination from the Academy for his screenplay for the 2007 film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement.

Sir Christopher also co-wrote the libretto for Lord (Andrew) Lloyd Webber’s musical Sunset Boulevard alongside Don Black, earning two Tony awards.

Born to British parents in 1946 on the Portuguese island of Faial in the Azores, he spent his childhood living in Aden, Egypt, Hong Kong and Zanzibar, due to his father’s job as a marine telecommunications engineer.

His family were caught up in the Suez Crisis in 1956 and were forced to flee their home in Alexandria at night, leaving their possessions behind.

He attended the independent boarding school Lancing College in West Sussex then studied French and German at Oxford University.

Sir Christopher became the youngest writer to have a play staged in the West End after When Did You Last See My Mother? – which he wrote around his 18th birthday – caught the eye of theatre director William Gaskill.

The show, an exploration of angst and homosexuality, played at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and soon transferred to the West End’s Comedy Theatre in 1966.

Sir Christopher continues to work as a screenwriter and translator of novels.

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