Original Release: October 25, 1993 (US)
Directed by: James Ivory
Written by: Kazuo Ishiguro, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Produced by: John Calley, Ismail Merchant, Mike Nichols
Running Time: 134 minutes
Box Office: $22,954,968 (US)
A rule bound head butler's world of manners and decorum in the household he maintains is tested by the arrival of a housekeeper who falls in love with him in post-WWI Britain. The possibility of romance and his master's cultivation of ties with the Nazi cause challenge his carefully maintained veneer of servitude.
Anthony Hopkins (Stevens), Emma Thompson (Miss Kenton), Christopher Reeve (Lewis), Hugh Grant (Cardinal), Caroline Hunt (Landlady), James Fox (Lord Darlington), Peter Vaughan (Father), Paula Jacobs (Mrs. Mortimer, the Cook), Ben Chaplin (Charlie, Head Footman), Steve Dibben (George, Second Footman), Abigail Hopkins (Housemaid), Patrick Godfrey (Spencer), Peter Cellier (Sir Leonard Bax), Peter Halliday (Canon Tufnell)
Filming Locations: (view all)
- Dyrham Park, Dyrham, Gloucestershire, England, UK (Darlington Hall: driveway and exterior of the Mansion)
- Badminton House, Gloucestershire, England, UK (Darlington Hall: servants' quarters)
- Powderham Castle, Kenton, Devon, England, UK (Darlington Hall: staircase, hall, music room)
- Corsham Court, Wiltshire, England, UK (Darlington Hall: library and dining room)
- Hop Pole Inn, Limpley Stoke, Somerset, England, UK
- Bath, Somerset, England, UK
- Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, UK
- Sir Anthony Hopkins, as a guest on Inside the Actors Studio (1994), said that he got tips on how to play a butler from real-life butler Cyril Dickman, who served for fifty years at Buckingham Palace. The butler said there was nothing to being a butler, really, when you're in the room, it should be even more empty.
- The part of Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson) is one of only three movie roles for which Meryl Streep has ever been turned down.
- Hugh Grant once stated that this picture was the best film that he has ever made.
- John Cleese was offered the role of James Stevens and loved Kazuo Ishiguro's novel. However, he said he withdrew after Harold Pinter (who wrote the original screenplay) took the humor out and made it, in Cleese's words, "relentlessly down". At one point, Anjelica Huston was being courted for the part of the housekeeper. Jeremy Irons had also been considered for a part in the film.
- The novel won the Booker Prize in 1989.
- Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films".
- Although released in 1993, the film features both Lena Headey and her Game of Thrones co-star Peter Vaughan.
- The only Best Picture Oscar nominee not nominated in either of the support acting categories that year.
- The original screenplay was written by Harold Pinter for Mike Nichols. A few of his scenes survived the rewrite after Columbia reassigned the film to Merchant-Ivory. One of these scenes, almost at the very end of the film, where Anthony Hopkins finally accepts his failures and cries in front of a total stranger, a retired butler, did not make the final cut. The scene appears in the deleted scenes special features of the 2001 DVD release.
- At one point, Anjelica Huston was being courted for the part of the housekeeper.
- The character played by Christopher Reeve in the film is a composite of two different people: in Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, Stevens's new employer is an American by the name of Farraday, and has nothing to do with Mr. Lewis the Senator.
Academy Award for Best Picture
Academy Award as Best Actor in a Leading Role - Anthony Hopkins
Academy Award as Best Actress in a Leading Role - Emma Thompson
Academy Award as Best Director - James Ivory
Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Golden Globes Award for Best Motion Picture - Drama
Golden Globes Award as Best Director - Motion Picture - James Ivory
Golden Globes Award as Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama - Emma Thompson
Golden Globes Award as Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama - Anthony Hopkins
Golden Globes Award for Best Screenplay - Motion Picture - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
BAFTA Film Award as Best Actor - Anthony Hopkins
BAFTA Film Award as Best Actress - Emma Thompson
BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay - Adapted - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
BAFTA Film Award for Best Film - Ismail Merchant , Mike Nichols, John Calley, James Ivory
BAFTA Film Award/David Lean Award for Direction - James Ivory
Awards Circuit Community Award as Best Actress in a Leading Role - Emma Thompson
Chicago Film Critics Association Award as Best Actor - Anthony Hopkins
Chicago Film Critics Association Award as Best Actress - Emma Thompson
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award as Best Actor - Anthony Hopkins
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture
David di Donatello Awardf as Best Foreign Actor - Anthony Hopkins
David di Donatello Awardf as Best Foreign Actress - Emma Thompson
David di Donatello Awardf for Best Foreign Film - James Ivory
Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures - James Ivory
Goya Award for Best European Film - James Ivory
Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalist "Silver Ribbon" Award as Best Foreign Director - James Ivory
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award as Best Actor - Anthony Hopkins
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award as Best Actress - Emma Thompson
London Critics Circle Film "ALFS" Award as Actor of the Year - Anthony Hopkins
London Critics Circle Film "ALFS" Award as Director of the Year - James Ivory
London Critics Circle Film "ALFS" Award for British Film of the Year
Robert Festival Award for Best Foreign Film - James Ivory
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture
USC Scripter Award for Best Script - Kazuo Ishiguro, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala