Peter Medak was born in Hungary in 1937, and in 1956 fled his home country for England to escape the Hungarian Revolution. While in England, through his opera singer aunt who had connections in the entertainment industry, he obtained a job as a trainee at Associated British-Pathe, which primarily produced documentaries. He next made his rounds at the various major British studios such as Elstree, Pinewood, and Shepperton where he worked on the sets of major British productions and was promoted up to assistant director on such films as The Great Armored Car Swindle (1961) and The Phantom of the Opera (1962). His on-set work caught the eye of MCA Universal Pictures, and he was brought to Los Angeles and signed to a television-directing contract, working on the series Court Martial.
In 1967 he signed a feature directing deal with Paramount and the following year his first feature-length film, Negatives, was released. Throughout his career, Medak had directed a steady balance of both television and film. These features include The Ruling Class (1972), A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1972), Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973), The Changeling (1980), Zorro: The Gay Blade (1981), The Men’s Club (1986), The Krays (1990), Let Him Have It (1991), Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), Pontiac Moon (1994), and Species II (1998).
His movies for television credits include The Third Girl from the Left (1973), Sporting Chance (1976), Cry for the Strangers (1982), Breakin’ Through (1984), The Hunchback (1997), David Copperfield (2000), Feast of All Saints (2001), and Sex and Lies in Sin City (2008).
His episodic television credits include The Persuaders!, Return of the Saints, Hart to Hart, Remington Steele, Magnum, P.I., St. Elsewhere, The Twilight Zone, Faerie Tale Theatre, Beauty and the Beast, Tales from the Crypt, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: SVU, The Wire, The Guardian, 7th Heaven, House M.D., Hannibal, and Breaking Bad.
In 1972, Medak was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his direction of The Ruling Class.