Ronald Harwood, a South African screenwriter who won an Oscar for The Pianist and was nominated for The Dresser and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, died Tuesday of natural causes at his home in Sussex, England.. He was 85.
The writer was born in South Africa in 1934. His first credit was for 1961’s Playdate. Throughout the sixties he went on to write a number for a number of titles including TV series ITV Television Playhouse, Knock on Any Door and ITV Play of the Week.
As his career progressed he went on write films, ranging from the 1966 film Arrivederci, Baby! to the 1981 picture Evita Peron. In 1983 Harwood wrote the screenplay for The Dresser, which follows a personal assistant’s struggle to help a veteran actor get through a difficult performance of King Lear. The film, which starred Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay, received five nominations in 1984 included a nod for best Harwood’s screenplay.
After his first Oscar-nominated title, Harwood continued to bolster his writing career with a number of titles throughout the 80s and 90s, a number of the TV movies. His next Oscar-nominated screenplay, however, didn’t come until the early aughts.
In 2002, Harwood boarded Roman Polanski’s World War II drama The Pianist. The film featured Adrien Brody as the real-life Jewish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman. In the Polanski-directed film Szpilman struggles to persist in the destruction of Warsaw all while preserving his passion for music.
At the 2003 Academy Awards, The Pianist took some some of the ceremony’s biggest prizes, with Brody winning the best actor award, Polanski best director and Harwood best writing.
Some of Harwood’s finale credits include Love in the Time of Cholera, Australia and A Therapy.
Harwood’s wife Natasha died in 2013. He is survived by his children Anthony, Deborah and Alexandra, BBC reported.