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Guy Ritchie
Ritchie in 2017
Guy Stuart Ritchie

(1968-09-10) 10 September 1968 (age 55)
  • Film director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • businessman
Years active 1995–present
  • (m. 2000; div. 2008)
  • Jacqui Ainsley
    (m. 2015)
Children 5

Guy Stuart Ritchie (born 10 September 1968) is an English film director, producer and screenwriter. His work includes British gangster films, and the Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr.

Ritchie left school at age 15 and worked entry-level jobs in the film industry before going on to direct television commercials. In 1995, he directed a short film, The Hard Case, followed by the crime comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), his feature-length directorial debut. He gained recognition with his second film, Snatch (2000), which found critical and commercial success. Following Snatch, Ritchie directed Swept Away (2002), a critically panned box-office bomb starring Madonna, to whom Ritchie was married between 2000 and 2008. He went on to direct Revolver (2005) and RocknRolla (2008), which were less successful and received mixed reviews. In 2009 and 2011, he directed the box-office hits Sherlock Holmes and its sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The former was nominated for Academy Awards in Best Original Score and Best Art Direction.

His other directed films include The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), based on the 1960s television series, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) and Disney's Aladdin (2019), a live-action adaptation of their 1992 animated film, which grossed over $1 billion worldwide, becoming one of the highest-grossing films in 2019 and the highest-grossing film of Ritchie's career. In 2019, he returned to crime comedy with The Gentlemen (2019), which was mostly well received and a commercial success. He subsequently reteamed with Jason Statham on the action films Wrath of Man (2021) and Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (2023). His second film of 2023, The Covenant, received generally positive reviews.

Life and career

1968–1997: Early life and career beginnings

Ritchie was born in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, the second of two children of Amber (née Parkinson) and Captain John Vivian Ritchie (b. 1928), former Seaforth Highlanders serviceman and advertising executive. He has an older sister, Tabitha, and a half-brother, Kevin, who was born to Amber Parkinson and put up for adoption.

Both of Ritchie's parents remarried. His father's second marriage was to Shireen Ritchie, Baroness Ritchie of Brompton, a former model and later Conservative politician and life peer. Between 1973 and 1980, Ritchie's mother was married to Sir Michael Leighton, 11th Baronet of Loton Park. As a divorcée, she is styled as Amber, Lady Leighton.

Ritchie is dyslexic, and attended Windlesham House School in West Sussex and Stanbridge Earls School in Hampshire. He was expelled from school at aged 15. .....

1998–2002: Breakthrough

After Ritchie's first project on a short film, The Hard Case (1995), in 1998, Ritchie met Matthew Vaughn, nephew of Peter Morton, co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe chain. Vaughn had been working in Los Angeles and expressed interest in producing Ritchie's directorial debut, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). It took 15 months to secure financial backing. Trudie Styler served as an executive producer—she said "I've always liked bad-boy movies".

The production of crime comedy heist Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was completed in about eight months. Starring Nick Moran, Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng and Dexter Fletcher, the film exposed them to worldwide audiences, and launched the acting career of former footballer Vinnie Jones. It was released in the United Kingdom on 28 August 1998 to critical and commercial success, with Janet Maslin of The New York Times praising Ritchie's "brash, ebullient direction" and "punchy little flourishes that load this English gangster film". The feature earned $28.1 million at the worldwide box office. At the 1999 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was nominated for three awards: Outstanding British Film, Best Editing and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for Vaughn. The film won a BAFTA for Film of the Year. In response to the film's success, Ritchie created a spin-off television series called Lock, Stock.... in 2000.

Ritchie's next film was Snatch (2000), another crime-comedy about a group of criminals searching for a stolen diamond. Starring an ensemble cast including Benicio del Toro, Dennis Farina, Jason Flemyng, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Šerbedžija and Jason Statham. Similar to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the film depicted events from different characters' perspectives; a narrative device which he would use in later films. Snatch was released on 23 August 2000 to a commercial success at the box office, grossing more than $83 million worldwide. Mick LaSalle, writing for San Francisco Chronicle, was impressed with Ritchie's directing and "sequences that discharge with energy", but felt the writing could have been better. Film critic Roger Ebert describes Ritchie as a "zany, high-energy director" but felt the film's plot "doesn't build and it doesn't arrive anywhere".

In 2001, Ritchie directed a music video for "What It Feels Like for a Girl", a song performed by Madonna, to whom Ritchie was married at the time. In the video, she commits criminal and violent acts towards men; music channels MTV and VH1 banned the video from their rotation, opting to play it only once on the release date. Ritchie directed a short film starring Madonna and Clive Owen, titled Star for season one of The Hire, a 2001 online series to promote BMW automobiles. Ritchie's next film, starring Madonna and Adriano Giannini, was Swept Away (2002), a remake of Lina Wertmüller's 1974 Italian film of the same name. It is a romantic comedy about a wealthy socialite who is shipwrecked on a deserted island with a Communist sailor. The film was a critical and commercial failure, with an average rating of 5% on film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Almar Haflidason of the BBC was critical of the lead actors, writing, "[Madonna] has neither good comedic sense nor any warmth [...] as for Giannini, he spends the first half of the movie endlessly complaining like some old fishwife". The feature won five awards at the 2002 Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Actress, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Remake or Sequel and Worst Director.

In 2002, Ritchie conceived a prank show titled Swag, for Channel 5 in the United Kingdom.

2003–2015: Critical disappointments and Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie
Ritchie at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival

After a two-year hiatus, Ritchie returned to directing his next heist film. Revolver (2005), starred Jason Statham, it was their third collaboration. Also cast were Ray Liotta, Vincent Pastore and André Benjamin. The story is about a gambler called Jake Green (Statham), who is released from prison and seeks revenge on those who stole his money. Filming was completed in late 2004 and the film premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival. Revolver was released in the United Kingdom on 22 September 2005; the film was critically panned and a commercial failure. Simon Guerrier of FilmFocus, gave Revolver 1 out of 5 stars, calling it, "tedious, humourless, pretentious and nasty". Adrian Hennigan from the BBC wrote, "the cheeky charm [of his previous films] has been replaced by plodding pretentiousness in a film that's illuminated by great action set-pieces and some powerful performances, but not redeemed". Ritchie responded to the criticism by stating, "I don't think anything went wrong with Revolver. By its very nature it's an esoteric movie. It's not designed for the masses". Budgeted at $27 million, the film earned $7.1 million at the worldwide box office. In 2007, Revolver was re-edited and released for the United States.

In 2008, Ritchie directed RocknRolla, for which he also wrote the screenplay. Set in London, it tells the story of a crew of gangsters, a rock star and some powerful players, all connected to each other throughout the film. It stars Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, and Toby Kebbell. RocknRolla was released on 5 September 2008 in the United Kingdom, reaching number one at the UK box office in its first week of release. It was generally well received; Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 60% rating, stating, "Mixed reviews for Guy Ritchie's return to his London-based cockney wideboy gangster movie roots, but most agree, it's a step in the right direction following two major turkeys". In that same year, Ritchie directed a television commercial for Nike called "Take It To The Next Level", about a young Dutch footballer who signs for Arsenal, showing the progression of his career from the beginning, through to his debut for the Netherlands. The commercial includes appearances from Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fàbregas, Ronaldinho, Wayne Rooney, and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Ritchie's next directorial effort was Sherlock Holmes (2009), based on the character of the same name created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, the film was released on 25 and 26 December 2009 in the United States and United Kingdom, respectively. Sherlock Holmes was a box-office hit, taking more than $520 million worldwide, and garnered mixed to favourable reviews from critics and general viewers. The feature received multiple accolades, including two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score and Best Art Direction, and Downey won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. In 2011, Ritchie directed the sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Released on 16 December, the film was a commercial success, grossing more than $545 million worldwide. A. O. Scott of The New York Times praised Ritchie for "taking liberties" with the characters, and writes that both films depict "a smoky, overcast Victorian world, infuses it with an air of jocular, hairy laddishness and stages a lot of fights in fussy and tiresome slow motion".

Guy Ritchie 2012
Ritchie at the Paris premiere of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, 2012

In 2012, Ritchie produced a trailer for the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. In 2013, he directed a commercial for H&M featuring David Beckham. A year later, he directed a commercial for whisky brand Haig, which also stars Beckham. He made a return to film in 2015, with The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a remake of the 1960s spy series of the same name. The screenplay, written by Ritchie and collaborator Lionel Wigram, tells the story of a CIA and a KGB agent who work together to stop a criminal organisation from constructing a nuclear weapon. A number of actors were considered for the lead roles, with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer eventually being cast. Principal photography commenced in 2013 in London and Italy, with rewrites to the script during filming. The film was released on 14 August 2015 by Warner Bros. to a mixed critical reception from critics. Glenn Kenny, writing for opined, "[the film] is only intermittently engaging and amusing, and those portions of the movie that succeed are also frustrating. Because they're cushioned by enervated, conceptually befuddled, and sometimes outright indifferent stuff". However, he praised Hugh Grant's performance which "saves the movie".


Influences and style

Ritchie has cited Quentin Tarantino and Sergio Leone as influences on his work. However, he has stated "just about every film — any good film — that's ever been made has had an influence on me. But then how much of it, I have no idea". He has complimented several films including The Long Good Friday (1980), The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Seven Samurai (1954) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). When asked about the influence of criminals Ronald and Reginald Kray, Ritchie states "It's inevitable ... everything, more or less, of the old-school villainy related back to the Krays at some point. And the Krays were a lot worse than everyone thinks they are. ... And I know what those boys were doing was a hundred times worse than what everyone thought was going on. So it's inevitable that anything that is genuine, and old, and British will somehow have something to do with the Krays".

Ritchie's films often incorporate memorable and "colourful" characters, for instance, Irish boxer Mickey O'Neil in Snatch, and crime boss "Hatchet" Harry in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. In his crime films, there is also fragmented dialogue, with many characters behaving menacingly and using cockney slang. The portrayal of the British class system has also been explored. Costume designer for The Gentlemen, Michael Wilkinson, said "Each character has an iconic, memorable look — a little larger than life".

Fast-paced and energetic action scenes serve as cinematic choices, as well as placing his characters in combat or violent situations. Ritchie has used fast-cutting and slow motion to build momentum in the story, and to create a high-impact viewing experience, respectively. He is also known to use interweaving stories and a non-linear narrative such as a circular plot in his films; this is found in the case of Snatch, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Sherlock Holmes.

Ritchie has worked multiple times with Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng, Alan Ford, Geoff Bell, Mark Strong, Jude Law, Eddie Marsan, Jared Harris, Charlie Hunnam, Josh Hartnett, and Hugh Grant.

Personal life

Guy Ritchie and Madonna (September 11 2005)
Ritchie with then-wife Madonna, 2005

Ritchie started training in Shotokan karate at the age of seven at the Budokwai in London, where he later achieved a black belt in both Shotokan and Judo. He also has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renzo Gracie.

In an interview, Ritchie revealed that he can speak Hebrew.

On 18 May 2000, Ritchie was arrested by police for allegedly assaulting a 20-year-old man outside the Kensington home he shared with American singer-songwriter Madonna. On 22 December 2000, Ritchie married Madonna at Skibo Castle in Scotland. Madonna gave birth to their son, Rocco (born 11 August 2000 in Los Angeles) and adopted a Malawian baby in 2006, David (born 24 September 2005).

Madonna filed for divorce in October 2008, citing irreconcilable differences. On 15 December 2008, Madonna's spokeswoman announced that she had agreed to a divorce settlement with Ritchie, the terms of which grant him £50–60 million, which includes the value of the couple's London pub and Wiltshire estate in England. The couple issued a joint statement calling reports of the amount of the settlement "misleading and inaccurate", and that it remains private. At the Central Family Court in Holborn, district judge Caroline Reid pronounced the decree nisi, which dissolved the marriage within six weeks. Madonna and Ritchie entered a custody agreement for their children.

In February 2011, his £6 million London home was briefly occupied by members of The Really Free School, a squatter organisation. In 2010, Ritchie met model Jacqui Ainsley and they married on 30 July 2015. The couple have three children: Rafael, Rivka and Levi, born in 2011, 2012 and 2014, respectively. In July 2020, Ritchie was given a six-month driving ban after he was caught by CyclingMikey using a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle.

Other business ventures

Paddington. (15566020469)
Ritchie designed this Paddington Bear statue for the NSPCC in 2014, a look which was inspired by fashion designer Cecil Beaton (who previously lived at Ritchie's Wiltshire estate).

Ritchie owns a pub, The Lore of the Land, in London, and co-owns another, The Walmer Castle with David Beckham. Ritchie owns a small brewing company, Gritchie Brewing Company which brews beer on his Ashcombe Estate in Wiltshire. He also owns The Wild Kitchen, a firm producing outdoor cooking equipment and tents, which launched at Chelsea Flower Show in 2021.

In October 2022 it was announced that Compton Abbas Airfield was being sold by the owners, the Hughes family, to Ritchie, who owns the neighbouring Ashcombe Estate. Ritchie took over running of the airfield on 1 February 2023. Some of the Gritchie Brewing Company's storage facilities will be relocated to the airfield.

Ritchie became a comic writer from 2007 to 2008 with the release of the Virgin Comics series Guy Ritchie's Gamekeeper.


Short film

Year Title Director Writer Notes
1995 The Hard Case Yes Yes
2001 Star Yes Yes Segment from the BMW series The Hire

Feature film

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1998 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Yes Yes No Also casting director
2000 Snatch Yes Yes No
2002 Swept Away Yes Yes No
2005 Revolver Yes Yes No
2008 RocknRolla Yes Yes Yes
2009 Sherlock Holmes Yes No No
2011 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Yes No No
2015 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Yes Yes Yes
2017 King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Yes Yes Yes
2019 Aladdin Yes Yes No
The Gentlemen Yes Yes Yes
2021 Wrath of Man Yes Yes Yes
2023 Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre Yes Yes Yes
Guy Ritchie's The Covenant Yes Yes Yes
TBA The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare Yes Yes Yes Post-production
Untitled Action film Yes Yes Yes Post-production

Cameo appearance

Year Title Role
2000 Snatch Man Reading Newspaper
2008 RocknRolla Man riding bicycle
2017 King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Inn Owner
2019 The Gentlemen Miramax Studio Executive


Year Title Director Executive
Writer Notes
2000 Lock, Stock... No Yes Yes Wrote episode: "...and Four Stolen Hooves"
0TBA The Gentlemen Yes Yes Yes Post-production
0TBA Gracie No Yes No Filming

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Guy Ritchie para niños

  • Guy Ritchie's unrealized projects
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