William Friedkin may be best known for his film THE EXORCIST(1973), one of the most terrifying films of all time. It received ten Academy Award nominations including Best Director and Best Picture. Prior to that, he directed The French Connection (1971), for which he received the Director’s Guild of America Award and the Academy Award for Best Director. The film also won for Best Actor, Best Editing, Best Screenplay and Best Picture.
Other films include Sorcerer (1977), The Brinks Job (1979), Cruising (1981), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and Blue Chips (1994). In 1997, he directed a Showtime/MGM television remake of Twelve Angry Men with Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Hume Cronyn and Ossie Davis. The DGA nominated him for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for Best Dramatic Special. It was also nominated for six Emmy Awards. Other films include Rules of Engagement (2000); The Hunted starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro (2003); Bug with Ashley Judd (2007); and Killer Joe starring Matthew McConaughey and Emile Hirsch which was released in 2012.
He made his operatic debut in 1998 with a widely acclaimed production of Alan Berg’s Wozzeck at Maggio Musicale Florence, conducted by Zubin Mehta. In 2002, he made his Los Angeles Opera debut with a double bill of Béla Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, also with Kent Nagano. In 2005, he directed Saint-Saens’ Samson and Delilah for the New Israeli Opera, Tel Aviv; and Verdi’s Aida at the Teatro Regio Torino in Italy.
In 2006, he directed Duke Bluebeard’s Castle/Gianni Schicchi for Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center. The same year, he enjoyed an extremely successful collaboration with Kent Nagano at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, with new productions of Strauss’ Salome and the world premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Das Gehege. Both productions continued to be performed throughout the 2008 season. For Los Angeles Opera, he directed a double bill of Suor Angelica/Il Tabarro, which premiered September 6, 2008. In 2011, he directed the opera, The Makropulos Case at Maggio Musicale in Florence, Italy and Tales of Hoffmann at Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria in 2012.
Within the last two decades, Friedkin returned to his early roots in television drama with the highly acclaimed 12 Angry Men, and has directed episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. His most recent film is a documentary, The Devil and Father Amorth, which premiered at The Venice Film Festival in 2017 and will be released in the United States in April 2018. He is currently in development for a television series based on Killer Joe.