In Profile: Graham King

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Martin Scorsese's favourite producer, Graham King, is the recipient of the 2010 Variety UK Achievement in Film Award. We take a look at the career of 'The King of Hollywood'.

Graham King has been dubbed the ‘the most powerful Brit in Hollywood’. If that’s the case, then how come he’s not a household name? Like any successful producer he is best defined by his relationships and King is on first-name terms with some Hollywood titans.

Leo, Marty and Johnny are all business partners. The Aviator came out of a partnership with Leonardo Di Caprio's production company, Appian Way. In fact, King is perhaps the man behind Di Caprio's transition from soggy teen heart-throb in Titanic to respected actor via films such as Blood Diamond and The Departed.

For six years Johnny Depp has been trying to make Hunter S. Thompson's The Rum Diary following his lead role in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and King is the money man who promises to make this dream a reality in a deal with Depp's production company, Nihil Infinitum.

While Martin Scorsese is indebted to King for convincing distributors into stumping up money for his epic Gangs of New York purely on the strength of the script, it was also in partnership with King that Scorsese was eventually awarded an Oscar for The Departed leading the UK press to hail the ‘cabbie’s son from Cockfosters’ as the ‘King of Hollywood’.

Speaking of Oscars, King rescued Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic by persuading Michael Douglas into the main role after Harrison Ford dropped out last-minute. Traffic won four Oscars as well as making $207m due to King cannily withholding the distribution rights until after the awards. Sadly much-hyped biopic and box-office flop Ali was not a similar story of success.

King has not abandoned the UK either, The Young Victoria was the result of Sarah Ferguson and Texan oil billionaire Tim Headington approaching King. King’s unconventional but astute choice of French-Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée and Julian Fellowes's script set the tone for an unbiased but lavish production that cemented Emily Blunt’s career.

Never without several irons in the fire, political thriller Edge of Darkness was released earlier this year and provided Mel Gibson with a respectable return to the screen. In the pipeline King has another collaboration with Depp on novel adaptation Shantaram; The Town, a thriller starring Ben Affleck and a reworking of Dan Simmons’s Hyperion sci-fi novels.

Not to mention teaming up with Scorsese for Silence. With a projected release date of 2013, solid details are scant but you can be certain it will be no small-scale production from the man described as a ‘modern-day Selznick’.

Don'y miss the chance to hear the man himself discuss his remarkable rise at the Graham King: Variety Interview event.

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