Though his primary profession is as a renowned playwright, the versatile and prolific Tom Stoppard has also carved out a distinguished secondary career as a screenwriter.
Born in Czechoslovakia, Tom Straussler and his family moved to Singapore in 1939 and then to India in 1941 to escape World War II's Axis powers. After his father was killed in Singapore, his mother married a British officer, and the renamed Stoppard family moved to England in 1946. Stoppard began his writing career at age 17, and worked as a journalist from 1954 to 1960. During the early '60s, Stoppard shifted to drama criticism and then fiction plays for TV, radio, and the stage. His 1966 play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead turned Stoppard into a theater sensation when it opened in London in 1967. Complex, philosophical, and hilarious, Stoppard's retelling of Hamlet from the point of view of two minor characters wittily upended the Shakespeare text with a strong dose of Samuel Beckett-style existentialism.