• Golden Globe Awards

Peter Morgan – Far from Done at 60

Idi Amin, Richard Nixon, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Niki Lauda, and, of course, the Queen and her royal family. His accomplishments are too many to list. Suffice it to say that Peter Morgan is the most talented and successful author and screenwriter in the genre of historical and not-so-historical stories and biographies.
That Peter Morgan celebrates his 60th birthday today is inconceivable to anyone who knows him – the man is the incarnation of energy, creative and otherwise. The father of five children (one daughter and four sons) from his marriage to the Austrian aristocrat Lila Schwarzenberg, he speaks German fluently, plays soccer, and is a Chelsea fan. Add his boyish looks and he seems much younger than his age.

Born and raised in London to a Polish Catholic mother who fled the Soviets and a German Jewish father who fled the Nazis, he got a degree in art history from the University of Leeds and always knew he wanted to be a writer.
His career took a steep ascent with 2006’s double recognition for The Last King of Scotland and The Queen. The latter marked the beginning of a long collaboration with Golden Globe winner Helen Mirren, who won her first Oscar for The Queen and her first Tony for Morgan’s play The Audience, in which she reprised her role as Elizabeth II.
From the start, he was not so much interested in one particular historical figure as he was in relationships: “I would have never written about the Queen if I had not been able to write about her Prime Ministers,” he told the HFPA. “It remains the story of two houses: Buckingham Palace and Downing Street. What I am interested in is family dynamics, and that’s the reason, I believe, that The Crown is so successful. In a way, we can all identify. There is the difficult father-son relationship, the sisterly rivalry.” The sixth and final season of The Crown will air this year.
He is used to the dirty looks he gets from some monarchy-loving Brits. He could not care less about the approval of The Firm, as the Windsors call their family institution: “The royal family and I exist in a world of mutual deniability.”
That he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to drama in 2016 is one of the finer ironies – it happened before The Crown began airing. He chuckles when he remembers the ceremony: “Although I got it from Prince Charles, it comes from the government. They had no idea who I was when I was there. No idea whatsoever. Then there’s a couple of whispers in the ear. A screenwriter. And he goes “Oh, you’re a screenwriter.” And I go: Yes, sir, I’m a screenwriter. And he goes “Oh.” Then, he’s thinking “Shit, what do I say now?” He says “It must be very hard to judge what to leave in and what to leave out.” I said, Yes sir. He said, “Right, well done.” That was what it was.”

In between films and TV projects about the royals and British politicians, he has also written the Golden Globe-nominated Rush, about the famous Formula 1 rivalry between Niki Lauda (who was a personal friend) and James Hunt.
Morgan has also made forays into other genres with The Hereafter and 360. The quadruple Golden Globe winner – for The Queen and the TV series Longford and The Crown, seasons one and four – also has two Primetime Emmys and two BAFTAs.
As for aging, this is what he said to the HFPA: “Someone once told me that authors reach the height of their creativity between 40 and 60.“ He himself may be the one rendering this timeline obsolete: he has finished the screenplay for Ang Lee’s upcoming Thrilla in Manila, about the third and final boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. No doubt he has many more stories up his creative sleeve.