Philip Kaufman (born October 23, 1936) is a film director and screenwriter from Chicago, Illinois. He attended the University of Chicago and later Harvard Law School. After spending some time backpacking in Europe with his wife, Kaufman relocated back to the United States. Much of his time in Europe heavily influenced Kaufman's decision to become a filmmaker, when he and his wife would wander into small movie theaters showcasing the works of John Cassavetes among others, He held some odd jobs including mailman. During his frequent travels he met Anais Nin, lover of writer Henry Miller. The relationship between Miller and Nin was the inspiration for Kaufman's film Henry and June.
Kaufman relocated back to his native Chicago, ready to make a feature film. With his wife behind him, he proceeded to go around town looking for funding for his film, which became his directorial debut, Goldstein. With that film in 1965, he was awarded the Prix de la Nouvelle Critique at the Cannes Film Festival. Acclaimed French director Jean Renoir called it the best American film in 20 years. Kaufman later went on to direct Fearless Frank which marked the debut of Jon Voight. While the movie didn't gain as much attention as Goldstein, it did help Kaufman land a contract in Universal Studios' Young Directors Program. In 1976 he wrote The Outlaw Josey Wales, and was at one point signed on to direct it, but was later replaced by Clint Eastwood.
In 1978 Kaufman directed the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which would become his first hit. Soon after, in 1981, Kaufman became involved with the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, for which he receives story credit. While the character of Indiana Jones was created by George Lucas, it was Kaufman who came up with the story and the pursuit of the Ark of the Covenant.
In 1983 Kaufman directed the critically acclaimed film, The Right Stuff, an adaptation of the book of the same name by Tom Wolfe.
In 1988 Kaufman was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay for The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
In 1990 he wrote and directed Henry & June, which is said to be a major factor in the development of a new MPAA rating, NC-17.
In 1993 he directed Rising Sun, an adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel which removed the anti-Japanese bias of the book. The film starred Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes and Harvey Keitel.
In 2000 Kaufman directed Quills, a satirical horror film about the increasingly desperate efforts of the Marquis de Sade's jailers to censor his licentious works, starring Geoffrey Rush, Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Winslet and Michael Caine.
In 2003 he directed Twisted, a thriller about a young policewoman whose casual sex partners are murdered while she herself suffers alcoholic blackouts. It starred Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia. Many critics cite that Kaufman's contribution to American film is that he's a director who refuses to be chosen as a one genre director, since every film he does is never in the same genre.
Kaufman is based in San Francisco alongside other such luminaries as Francis Ford Coppola, Chris Columbus and nearby neighbor George Lucas, where he runs his production company Walrus and Associates with his family. A local restaurant has a wall devoted to Kaufman of pictures and autographs, called The Steps of Rome.
Kaufman's next project will be a biography of late film director Nicholas Ray in an untitled film.