Richard Lester (born January 19, 1932) is an American director who lives in the United Kingdom. He started out working in American television in the 1950's, as a TV director for a station in Philadelphia. Soon after, he moved to Europe, and eventually landed in London, where he made short films and commercials (sometimes shot by Nicolas Roeg, back when Roeg was a cinematographer). Those films eventually caught the eye of Peter Sellers, who hired him to shoot short film segments for The Goon Show. One short film he did with Sellers, The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, caught the eye of John Lennon, a fan of the Goon Show, and that, along with an earlier music-themed movie Lester had directed called It's Trad, Dad (1962 - also known as Ring-A-Ding Rhythm!), got him the job directing The Beatles' first film, A Hard Day's Night, and the rest is history. The fast editing and cheeky humor Lester (along with screenwriter Alun Owen and the Beatles themselves) was able to bring out proved to be a major influence on music videos over a decade later.
After establishing his name with the Beatles via A Hard Day's Night and Help!, Lester gained a reputation for visually impressive, cinematically unorthodox films, working in a variety of genres, with several gaining Cult Classic status. His highest-profile projects later in his career were Superman II, the sequel to the first Superman movie (which Lester controversially took over after original director Richard Donner was fired), and The Three Musketeers (1973), a popular adaptation of the novel by Alexandre Dumas. The latter spawned two sequels - The Four Musketeers (1974) and The Return of the Musketeers (1989). However, during the making of the third Musketeer movie, Roy Kinnear, an actor and close friend of Lester's who had appeared in several of his films, died, and with the exception of a concert film he director for Paul McCartney, Lester retired from directing.
In 1999, Steven Soderbergh published a book called Getting Away with It, a book length conversation between him and Lester (also including Soderbergh's diary at the time, and ruminations on his own life and career).
Lester is married to Deirdre Vivian Smith, and they have two children.
Works directed by Richard Lester that have their own page:
- The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1959)
- A Hard Day's Night (1964)
- The Knack...and How to Get It (1965)
- Help! (1965)
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)
- Petulia (1968)
- The Bed Sitting Room (1969)
- The Three Musketeers (1973)
- Juggernaut (1974)
- The Ritz (1976)
- Robin and Marian (1976)
- Superman II (1980)
- Superman III (1983)