Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański ( pə-LAN-skee, Polish: [ˈrɔman pɔˈlaj̃skʲi] (listen); born 18 August 1933) is a French-Polish film director, producer, writer, and actor. Since 1978, Polanski has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system; he fled the country while awaiting sentencing in his sexual abuse case, in which he pleaded guilty to statutory rape.
Polanski was born in Paris, and his Polish-Jewish parents moved the family back to Poland in 1936. Three years later, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany starting World War II and the Polanskis found themselves trapped in the Kraków Ghetto. After his mother and father were taken in raids, Polanski spent his formative years in foster homes under an adopted identity, trying to survive the Holocaust. Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), was made in Poland and was nominated for a United States Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He has since received five more Oscar nominations, along with two BAFTAs, four Césars, a Golden Globe Award and the Palme d'Or of the Cannes Film Festival in France. In the United Kingdom he directed three films, beginning with Repulsion (1965). In 1968, he moved to the United States and cemented his status by directing the horror film Rosemary's Baby (1968).
A turning point in his life took place in 1969, when his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, and four friends were brutally murdered by members of the Manson Family. Following her death, Polanski returned to Europe and eventually continued directing. He made Macbeth (1971) in England and back in Hollywood, Chinatown (1974), which was nominated for eleven Academy Awards. In 1977, Polanski was arrested and charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. He subsequently pled guilty to the lesser offence of unlawful sex with a minor. After spending 42 days undergoing psychiatric evaluation in prison in preparation for sentencing, Polanski, who had expected to be put on probation, fled to Paris after learning that the judge planned to reject his plea deal and impose a prison term.
In Europe, Polanski continued to make films, including Tess (1979), starring Nastassja Kinski. It won France's César Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and received three Oscars. He later produced and directed The Pianist (2002), a drama about a Jewish-Polish musician escaping Nazi persecution, starring Adrien Brody and Emilia Fox. The film won three Academy Awards including Best Director, along with numerous international awards. He also directed Oliver Twist (2005), a story which parallels his own life as a "young boy attempting to triumph over adversity". He was awarded Best Director for The Ghost Writer (2010) at the 23rd European Film Awards. He also received Best Screenwriter nomination at the aforementioned awards for Carnage (2011). In 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to expel Polanski from its membership.