Jez Butterworth

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Jez Butterworth
Born Jeremy Butterworth
March 1969 (age 52)
London, England
Occupation Playwright, screenwriter, film director
Notable works Mojo (1995)
Mojo (adapted for screen) (1997)
Birthday Girl (2001)
The Night Heron (2002)
Parlour Song (2008)
Jerusalem (2009)

Jeremy "Jez" Butterworth (born March 1969) is an English playwright, screenwriter, and film director. He has written screenplays in collaboration with his brothers, John-Henry and Tom.

Life and career

Butterworth was born in London, England. His brother Steve is a producer and brothers Tom and John-Henry are also writers. He attended Verulam Comprehensive School, St Albans and St John's College, Cambridge.

He was inspired to read English at Cambridge after watching his older brother Tom in a Cambridge production of Brian Friel's Translations. His first play, co-written with Tom Butterworth, was Cooking in a Bedsitter (1991), an Edinburgh festival-staged adaptation of Katherine Whitehorn’s 'Cooking in a Bedsitter'. He co-wrote I Believe in Love, four short plays, in 1992 with his St Johns contemporary James Harding (journalist).

IN 1993 he co-wrote Huge with his flatmate Ben Miller And Simon Godley, which was about an unsuccessful stand-up comedy duo.[1] In 1992 he had introduced Ben Miller and Xander Amstrong at TBA, a weekly comedy sketch show at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill [2]

Jez and Tom Butterworth wrote Night of the Golden Brain, a Carlton short film about a pub quiz team which was broad cast on 18 November 1993 on ITV as part of the Going Underground series. In 1994 and 1995 he had a brief acting career with small roles in The Bill, So Haunt Me and Chandler and Co.

Butterworth has had major success with his play Mojo (which premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in 1995). It won the Laurence Olivier, an Evening Standard and the George Devine awards.

Jez and Tom Butterworth wrote Christmas, a Channel 4 short film broadcast 1 September 1996 in its Talent-Spotting showcase. It was a modern morality tale about a teenager, Manny who works for King's Cross gangster, Martin, whom he idolises, but Pinter, another more powerful gangster, will kill Manny’s brother Sean unless Manny kills Martin.

Butterworth wrote and directed the film adaptation of Mojo, released in 1997. This featured Harold Pinter. A major influence on Butterworth's work is 2005 Nobel Literature Laureate Harold Pinter: "I know and admire Harold Pinter enormously. He has a ginormous influence on me. Conversations with him have inspired my work."[3]

He directed and co-wrote with his brother Tom the film Birthday Girl (2001), which was produced by his brother Steve and starred Nicole Kidman.

Butterworth also achieved positive reviews with his plays The Night Heron (which premiered at the Royal Court in 2002) and The Winterling (also at the Royal Court in 2006).

In May 2007 Butterworth received the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

His play Parlour Song[4] opened to "rave reviews" at the Atlantic Theatre Company, in New York City in March 2008.[3] The Almeida Theatre presented its European première in March 2009.

Butterworth's fourth play for the Royal Court was the comedy Jerusalem, which premiered in July 2009 to outstandingly positive reviews. Described as a "contemporary vision of life in [England's] green and pleasant land", Jerusalem was the second important Butterworth production in London in 2009.[5] The production starred Mark Rylance as Johnny Byron, and featured Mackenzie Crook as Ginger in a supporting role. It was a sell-out at the Royal Court, won the Evening Standard Theatre Award and Critics' Circle Theatre Award for the best play of 2009 and, with the same cast, transferred to the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue in January 2010. Jerusalem opened on Broadway, New York, in April 2011, with many of the original UK cast. It returned to London later that year, again playing at the Apollo. In January 2014 Jerusalem opened at San Francisco Playhouse in San Francisco where it also received raving reviews.[6] In May 2011, Jerusalem was nominated for a Tony Award[7] and Mark Rylance, in the role of Johnny 'Rooster' Byron, won the Tony Award of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play.

Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth were named recipients of the Writers Guild of America West's 2011 Paul Selvin Award for their screenplay for the film Fair Game (2010), directed by Doug Liman and starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

On 26 October 2012, Butterworth's new play The River opened at the Royal Court Theatre, starring Dominic West, Laura Donnelly and Miranda Raison. The River had its US premiere on Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre in a limited engagement in October 2014, starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Ian Rickson.[8]



  • I Believe In Love (1992)
  • Huge (1993)
  • Mojo (1995)
  • The Winterling (1996)
  • The Night Heron (2002)
  • Parlour Song (2008)
  • Jerusalem (2008)
  • The River (2012)[10]


  • Night of the Golden Brain (1993)
  • Christmas (1996)

Film as a writer

Film as a director


  2. Stand by for barmy filth. Imogen Edwards-Jones. The Times (London, England), Friday, 13 August 1999; pg. 39
  3. 3.0 3.1 Erik Piepenburg (23 March 2008). "An Edge-of-Town Story as Simple as the Blues". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 March 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Butterworth, J. (2009) Parlour Song, Nick Hern Books, London. ISBN 978-1-84842-026-7
  5. Time, and the Green and Pleasant Land
  6. "SF Gate". SF Gate. Retrieved 14 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Edemariam, Aida (14 May 2011). "The Saturday interview: Jez Butterworth". The Guardian. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Hetrick, Adam. " 'The River', Starring Tony Winner Hugh Jackman, Will Open at Broadway's Circle in the Square This Fall", 9 May 2014
  10. Bowie-Sell, Daisy (11 June 2012). "Royal Court announces new play from 'Jerusalem' writer Jez Butterworth". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links