Irwin Winkler’s career as a producer, director and writer encompasses popular and influential movies that have impacted contemporary culture. With a passion for big, bold, meaningful stories, his films include an array of true screen classics, garnering among them 12 Academy Awards and 51 Oscar nominations.
Winkler most recently produced CREED, the latest installment of his Academy Award winning franchise, ROCKY, for MGM Studios. Starring Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan, with Ryan Coogler directing, the film has garnered both commercial and critical success.
CREED was nominated for Outstanding Motion Picture by the NAACP and received the Best Picture Award from the Black Film Critics Circle Awards. CREED has also received nominations from the Black Reel Awards and was honored as one of the top films of the year by the National Board of Review.
In 2013, Winkler produced the Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, illustrates his continual presence as one of Hollywood’s most prolific producers making an indelible impact with his ability to showcase emotional storytelling with hard hitting relevance.
Continuing his legendary collaboration with Martin Scorsese, Winkler next produced SILENCE. Written by Scorsese and Jay Cocks and based on the book by Shusaku Endo, with Scorsese directing, and starring Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson and Adam Driver, SILENCE is slated for release November 2016.
Among Winkler’s multiple nominations include five Best Picture nominations, each for a pioneering film: the tale of underdog sports triumph, ROCKY, which forged one of most globally recognizable movie characters and themes in history; RAGING BULL, which turned the biopic into a gritty, lyrical work of art; the history-capturing look at the U.S. space program, THE RIGHT STUFF; the iconic gangster tale, GOODFELLAS; and the recent THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. Winkler is the only producer honored with three films on the American Film Institute’s list of the “Top 100 Films.”
For Winkler, success has come from his constant instinctual draw to fresh, current, even controversial subjects and visionary talents. As a storyteller he has been fascinated by both the dangers of corruption and the beauty of courage and compassion.
In 1989, Winkler made an auspicious directorial debut from his own potent screenplay, GUILTY BY SUSPICION, which brought to the fore a fictional tale about Hollywood’s all-too-real blacklisting era. Starring Robert DeNiro as a prominent director asked to “name names” and Annette Benning as his wife, the film presaged a writing and directing career that would, like Winkler’s producing career, be focused on taut human drama and politically-charged themes and debuted in the Cannes Film Festival.
Winkler’s next directorial outing reunited him with both Robert DeNiro and Jessica Lange in a stylish update of the noir crime drama, NIGHT AND THE CITY, which would close the prestigious New York Film Festival in 1992 and become a rousing critical success. He went on to direct and produce AT FIRST SIGHT, a romantic drama based on a true story by Dr. Oliver Sacks, starring Val Kilmer, Mira Sorvino, Nathan Lane, Steven Weber and Kelly McGillis; and the prescient cyber-crime thriller THE NET, starring Sandra Bullock, one of the big box-office hits of 1995.
Winkler’s directorial career would continue to take intriguing turns. He broached the thought- provoking question of what happens when a man suddenly faces his own mortality in the poignantly complex LIFE AS A HOUSE, featuring a landmark performance by Kevin Kline and cast that included Kristin Scott Thomas, Mary Steenburgen, as well as rising young stars Hayden Christensen and Jena Malone.
Radically switching gears, Winkler next directed one of his most distinctive features, an enchanting and elegantly stylish musical biography of the legendary composer Cole Porter: DE- LOVELY. Featuring colorful, Golden Globe-nominated performances from Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd, as well as knock-out performances from some of today’s hottest pop and rock music talents, including Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Elvis Costello, Robbie Williams, Natalie Cole, and Diana Krall, all performing Porter’s classic songs, the film was selected as the closing night gala event at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
Winkler became one of the very first American filmmakers to turn his camera on an issue currently of vital significance — the return of U.S. veterans from the war in Iraq – when he directed and produced the provocative drama HOME OF THE BRAVE, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Jessica Biel and Brian Presley.
Winkler also recently co-produced the Paramount Pictures THE GAMBLER written by William Monahan starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman and Jessica Lange
Winker’s motion picture producing career began in the late 1960s when he left his successful management company behind. His made his first film, the Elvis Presley movie DOUBLE TROUBLE, with the legendary director Norman Taurog. Soon after, he entered into a partnership with Robert Chartoff, producing such films as the classic revenge thriller POINT BLANK. In 1970, an eclectic trio of Winkler/Chartoff films each made a splash at the Cannes Film Festival: LEO THE LAST won the Best Director prize, the counter-culture cult film, THE STRAWBERRY STATEMENT received the Jury Award THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY? garnered the closing night honors.
In April 2016, Winkler was invited by Harvard University to take part in a public forum titled “The Politics of Film: Between Imagination and Industry.” The forum was co-sponsored by the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership and moderated by Brandon M. Terry, assistant professor of African and African American Studies. Winkler led the discussion on political and social adversity in filmmaking, among other topics.
For his enormous contributions to the popular culture, Winkler has been the proud recipient of numerous American and international honors, including the Commandeur des Arts et Lettres, the French government’s highest decoration for contribution to the arts. In 1989, the British Film Institute saluted him with a retrospective of his work and in 1995, Winkler became the first producer to be honored with a showcase screening of ten of his films at the Deauville Film Festival. He has also received a Lifetime Achievement award from the Chicago Film Festival, a star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame and retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which had not honored a producer since their tribute to David O. Selznick in 1980. Winkler also received the National Board of Review’s highest honor for Career Achievement in Producing, which Kevin Kline presented to him at their annual gala in January 2007 in New York.