Director Dan Ireland with Dame Joan Plowright on the set of Mrs. Palfrey At The Claremont.
Dan Ireland began his career as the co-founder/co-director of The Seattle International Film Festival (along with Darryl Macdolnald), and together they served as co-owner/operators of The Egyptian Theatre, the most successful independent theatre in the state of Washington. Ireland remained at the theatre and festival until 1986, where he was Executive Vice President of Acquisitions for Vestron Pictures. It was at Vestron that Ireland developed his filmmaking skills. During his time there, he was Executive Producer of fifteen films including John Huston’s final film ‘The Dead’ (two Oscar nominations), Bernard Rose’s feature debut ‘Paperhouse’ and Ken Russell’s ‘The Rainbow’.
In 1996 Ireland made his debut as a feature director for Cineville with the highly acclaimed film, THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, starring Vincent D’Onofrio and Renee Zellweger also produced by Ireland and D’Onofrio.
It was this performance that introduced Zellweger to producer James L. Brooks and director Cameron Crowe for her follow up film, ‘Jerry Maguire’, and launched her into international stardom. ‘The Whole Wide World’ was on over 50 top ten critics year end lists and won Zellweger the coveted National Society of Film Critics award for most promising newcomer of the year. D’Onofrio was named runner up as Best Actor by the same organization for his performance. Ireland re-teamed with D’Onofrio for 1998’s controversial ‘The Velocity of Gary’, the film also starred Salma Hayak and introduced Thomas Jane (The Punisher).
In 2003, Ireland directed the romantic comedy, ‘PASSIONADA’, released to critical acclaim by The Samuel Goldwyn Company and internationally by Columbia-TriStar Pictures. It was her performance in this film that brought Emmy Rossum to the attention of director Joel Schumacher for the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’.
Ireland’s next film, MRS. PALFREY AT THE CLAREMONT, based on the celebrated novel by the late English novelist, Elizabeth Taylor, stars the legendary Dame Joan Plowright (Lady Olivier, and star of Enchanted April) in her largest screen role to date.
Mrs. Palfrey is the humorous, bittersweet story of a recently widowed elderly woman who moves to London, and her unexpected friendship with a young writer who is at the turning point in his life. It is the story of two people, who, even though fifty years apart, become the best of friends.
Ireland was quoted, “Finding a young actor that could match the amazing Joan Plowright was perhaps the most challenging aspect of casting that I’ve ever been faced with.” And speaking of discoveries, the young writer in the film is portrayed by Britain’s most celebrated new actor, Rupert Friend. Mr. Friend starred opposite Johnny Depp in “The Libertine”, and opposite Keira Knightly in Working Title’s remake of Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice”, ‘Cheri’ for legendary director Stephan Frears, starring opposite Michelle Pfeiffer, and ‘The Young Victoria’ where he is the co-lead opposite Emily Blunt.
Since that time, Dan Ireland embarked on the journey of bringing E.L. Doctorow’s provocative short story JOLENE to the screen. Jolene is the story of a young woman’s odyssey through America, ages fifteen through twenty-five, her survival, and her ultimate quest to find love.
The lead actress, Jessica Chastain, whom Ireland introduces to the screen with this role, won the coveted Best Actress Award at The Seattle International Film Festival for her performance, and it was this film that helped her land the lead roles opposite Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in Terrence Malick’s upcoming film, THE TREE OF LIFE, which premiered Cannes 2011, and John Madden’s THE DEBT, starring opposite Dame Helen Mirren and Sam Worthington. Ms Chastain can also be seen in the drama, TAKE SHELTER from director Jeff Nichols, starring Michael Shannon, in Ralph Fiennes’s directorial debut CORIOLANUS, starring Gerard Butler, Mr. Fiennes, and Vanessa Redgrave, and the upcoming Cannes Film Festival entry, LAWLESS, starring opposite actors Shia La Beouf and Tom Hardy,
Starring opposite Jessica Chastain in JOLENE are Rupert Friend (Mrs Palfrey at The Claremont), Dermot Mulroney, Michael Vartan, Chazz Palminteri, Denise Richards and Frances Fisher. The film was released in November, 2010.
Next, Dan Ireland re-teamed with Renee Zellweger in her first outing as a producer to make LIVING PROOF, the story of Dr Dennis Slamon, the creator of Herceptin, the only drug effective in the combat against breast cancer. Neil Meron and Craig Zadan also executive produced. The film aired on Lifetime as part of their Breast Cancer Awareness Month to great acclaim and drew over 16 million viewers.
Currently, Dan Ireland is in pre-production to direct his screenplay (co-written by Bradley Jackson), MR LIVELY, for legendary producer Raffaella De Laurentiis. Casting is currently on-going for this ribald human comedy about a very distinguished man who suddenly starts to act out like a disgruntled teenager. Production is expected to begin this Fall.
Nederlands Film Festival 1982
• Won (with Darryl Macdonald), Golden Calf
For Advancing the Dutch Film Industry in America
Newport Beach Film Festival 2006
• Won, Audience Award
Seattle International Film Festival 1996
• Won, Audience Award, 1996, Best Film for The Whole Wide World
Sundance Film Festival 1996
• Nominated, Grand Jury Prize
Dramatic for The Whole Wide World (1996)