Roman Polanski (born Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański; 18 August 1933) is a Polish-French film director, producer, writer, and actor. Having made films in Poland, the United Kingdom, France and the United States, he is considered one of the few "truly international filmmakers." Polanski's films have inspired diverse directors, including the Coen brothers, Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Atom Egoyan, Darren Aronofsky, Park Chan-wook, Abel Ferrara, and Wes Craven.
Born in Paris to Polish parents, he moved with his family back to Poland (Second Polish Republic) in 1937, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. He survived the Holocaust and was educated in Poland (People's Republic of Poland) and became a director of both art house and commercial films. Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), made in Poland, was nominated for a United States Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film but was beaten by Federico Fellini's 8½. He has since received five more Oscar nominations, along with two Baftas, four Césars, a Golden Globe Award and the Palme d'Or of the Cannes Film Festival in France. In the United Kingdom he directed three films, beginning with Repulsion (1965). In 1968 he moved to the United States, and cemented his status by directing the horror film Rosemary's Baby (1968) for which Ruth Gordon won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress.
In 1969, Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by members of the Manson Family while staying at Polanski's Benedict Canyon home above Los Angeles. Following Tate's death, Polanski returned to Europe and spent much of his time in Paris and Gstaad, but did not direct another film until Macbeth (1971) in England. The following year he went to Italy to make What? (1973) and subsequently spent the next five years living near Rome. However, he travelled to Hollywood to direct Chinatown (1974). The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, and was a critical and box-office success. Polanski's next film, The Tenant (1976), was shot in France, and completed the "Apartment Trilogy", following Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby.
In 1977, after a photo shoot in Los Angeles, Polanski was arrested for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl and pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawful sex with a minor. To avoid sentencing, Polanski fled to his home in London, eventually settling in France. More than 32 years later, in September 2009, he was temporarily arrested by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities, who also asked for his extradition. The Swiss rejected that request, and instead released him from custody, declaring him a "free man." During an interview for a later film documentary, he offered his apology to the woman, and in a separate interview with Swiss TV he said that he has regretted that episode for the last 33 years.
Polanski continued to make films such as The Pianist (2002), a WWII true story drama about Jewish-Polish musician Władysław Szpilman. The film won three Academy Awards including Best Director, along with numerous international awards. He also directed other films, including Oliver Twist (2005), a story which parallels his own life as a "young boy attempting to triumph over adversity". His most recent films are The Ghost Writer (2010), a thriller focusing on a ghostwriter working with a former British Prime Minister, and Carnage (2011), a comedy-drama starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.