David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg Photo


Date of Birth: March 15, 1943

Born in Toronto, Ontario, David Cronenberg began writing gory short stories at an early age. He was fascinated by things like "watching praying mantises eating grasshoppers," and felt that his inclination towards gore set him apart from other youngsters. He studied science at the University of Toronto, switching later to literature. When a college friend made a short film, Cronenberg was "stunned, shocked and exhilarated" by the medium, and said to himself, "I've got to try this!" He made two short films, and in order to get funding from the Canada Council for a feature length film, pretended to be writing a novel. Money in hand, he made Stereo (1969), set at the fictitious Canadian Academy for Erotic Inquiry, followed by Crimes of the Future (1970), in which a dermatologist creates a condition that makes its victims indulge in bizarre fetishes and acts of homosexuality.

Cronenberg next moved to television, where he directed a number of documentaries, mostly featuring Toronto locales. The work earned him credibility as a director and put some money in his pockets. He went on to make another horror film, the gore-filled Shivers (1975), made for a Montreal soft-core porn outfit. "Sleazy distributors," Cronenberg said, when describing the company, "My kind of people." Government money paid for a portion of the film's budget, sparking outrage, including an article in Saturday Night magazine entitled "You Should Know How Bad This Film Is. After All, You Paid For It."

Rabid (1977) involved the adventures of a woman who, after having surgery to save her life following an accident, develops a taste for blood. Cronenberg's work as a director began to be noticed in his native Canada with Scanners (1981), which featured an international cast. The film, about people who control and torture other people with their minds, earned him Genie nominations (Canada’s equivalent to the Oscars) for Best Direction and Best Screenplay.

In 1984, Cronenberg won a Genie award for directing the feature Videodrome (1983), about a sexually violent TV channel that alters viewers physically and mentally. In 1989, Cronenberg was again awarded with Genies for his work on Dead Ringers (1988), and in 1992, for his work as a director on the feature Naked Lunch (1991). In 1996, the feature Crash (1996), about people who become erotically charged by car crashes, won the Jury Special Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. He has continued on with more films, gaining international attention for eXistenZ (1999); and more recently, Spider (2003), starring Ralph Fiennes; A Dangerous Method (2012) with Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, and Michael Fassbender; and Cosmopolis (2012) starring Sarah Gadon, Jay Baruchel and Twilight hunk Robert Pattinson.

His daughter, Cassandra, got her start as an assistant director on her father's films, and his sister, Denise, designs the costumes for most of Cronenberg's work. He also has a daughter named Caitlin. Cronenberg lives in Toronto with his wife and enjoys attending Blue Jays baseball games.