Born into a family of amateur theater performers, Mike Newell grew up participating in his parents’ productions. He pursued his passion for theater at the University of Cambridge, concentrating on directorial work after an unsuccessful audition with Trevor Nunn. After graduating, he worked as a production trainee at Granada Television, learning documentary filmmaking from Denis Mitchell and Norman Swallow. He transitioned to drama direction with Coronation Street, The Fellows, and Spindoe. Newell then moved to BBC’s drama department, most notably directing the anthology series BBC2 Playhouse, Play of the Week and Play for Today, as well as movies for television, including Just Your Luck (1972), The New World (1973) and Birth of a Nation (1983).
Newell’s transition to feature film came when casting director Mary Selway recommended him to producer Norman Rosemont to direct The Man in the Iron Mask (1977). Since then, he has directed more than a dozen films including The Awakening (1980), Bad Blood (1981), Dance with a Stranger (1985), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Donnie Brasco (1997), Pushing Tin (1999), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Love in the Time of Cholera (2007), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) and Great Expectations (2012).
For his directorial efforts, Mike Newell has won a BAFTA and London Circle Film Award, and has received a DGA Award nomination in feature film for Four Weddings and a Funeral. He has been a London Coordinating Committee member since 2010, and has been a Guild member since 1982.