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Roth at a premiere for Inglourious Basterds in August 2009
|Born||Eli Raphael Roth|
April 18, 1972
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Other names||David Kaufbird|
Eli R. Roth
Roth at a premiere for Inglourious Basterds in August 2009
|Born||Eli Raphael Roth|
April 18, 1972
Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Other names||David Kaufbird|
Eli R. Roth
Eli Raphael Roth (born April 18, 1972) is an American film director, producer, writer and actor. He is known for directing the horror film Hostel and its sequel, Hostel: Part II. He is also known for his role as Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds for which he won both a SAG Award (Best Ensemble) and a BFCA Critic's Choice Award (Best Acting Ensemble). Journalists have included him in a group of filmmakers dubbed the Splat Pack because of their explicitly violent and bloody horror films.
Roth was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Dr. Sheldon Roth, a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst and clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, and Cora Roth, a painter. His grandparents emigrated from Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Poland; Roth was raised Jewish. Besides English, he can speak French, Italian and Russian.
Roth began shooting films at the age of eight, after watching Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). He made over 100 short films with his brothers Adam and Gabriel before graduating from Newton South High School and attending film school (the Tisch School of the Arts) at New York University, from which he graduated in 1994. To fund his films while in college Roth worked as an online cybersex operator for Penthouse Magazine, posing as a woman, as well as a production assistant on feature films. By the age of 20, and while still a student at NYU, Roth ran the office of producer Frederick Zollo, eventually leaving after graduation to devote himself to writing full-time. Roth collected unemployment and found work on Howard Stern's "Private Parts" as Howard's night time assistant, staying at Silvercup Studios in Queens at night working on his scripts while Howard slept.
Actress Camryn Manheim gave Roth one of his first jobs in Hollywood, putting him on as an extra on The Practice when he first moved to Los Angeles. Roth would stay in Manheim's dressing room working on his scripts while she filmed the show. The two had met and become friends while Roth was working for Fred Zollo in New York City. Roth also met Manheim's cousin Howie Nuchow (former EVP of Mandalay Sports Entertainment and also from the Boston, MA area) at Camryn's family passover seder—this led to Roth's first animation project "Chowdaheads" in the year that followed. Roth also co-wrote a project called "The Extra" with Manheim; Manheim would later sell the pitch to producer (and former CEO and Chairman of Fox Studios) Bill Mechanic's Pandemonium company.
In his final years (1993/1994) at NYU film school, Roth wrote and directed a student film called Restaurant Dogs as a homage to Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. The film was nominated for a Student Academy Award in 1995, and won its division (Division III.)
Through his internship with producer Fred Zollo in years prior, Roth met David Lynch and remained in contact with him over the years, eventually producing content for Lynch with his fledgling website in the late 1990s. Roth met film and TV composer Angelo Badalamenti through Lynch; he would later use Badalamenti's music in his first feature film. He also met a member of special effects company KNB EFX through Lynch; KNB EFX would later contribute to his first feature.
Roth moved from NYC to LA in 1999; shortly thereafter he wrote, directed, edited, produced, animated, and provided voices for a series of animated shorts called Chowdaheads for Mandalay Sports Entertainment. The shorts were intended to be shown between WCW Monday Nitro pro wrestling matches, but the C.E.O. of WCW who had green lit the project was fired the weekend before they were supposed to be aired, and they were never actually broadcast, despite being completed. Roth's friend Noah Belson co-wrote the shorts and provided the other character voices
After receiving financial backup from the website Z.com to deliver a 5-minute pilot, Roth wrote, directed, animated and produced a series of stop-motion shorts in mid-2000 called The Rotten Fruit. The company (z.com) folded shortly after several episodes were completed, and the domain name "z.com" was picked up by Nissan years later to promote their sports car of the same name. A portion of the work for The Rotten Fruit was done at the Snake Pit studios in Burbank using miniature sets, poseable clay and foam figures, two high-end digital still cameras, and a pair of Macintosh computers. Roth's friend Noah Belson co-wrote the shorts and performed the character voices along with Roth.
In 1995, a year after graduating from NYU, Roth cowrote Cabin Fever with his roommate and friend from NYU, Randy Pearlstein. Roth based the premise of the script on his own encounter with a skin infection he contracted while riding Icelandic ponies at a family friend's farm he was visiting in Selfoss, Iceland, in 1991. Much of the script was written while Roth was working as a production assistant in 1996 for Howard Stern's movie Private Parts.
The film was made in 2001 on a budget of $1.5 million raised from private investors. Roth sold the film to Lionsgate at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival for $3.5 million, the biggest sale of the festival that year. The film was released in 2003 and was Lionsgate's highest grossing film of the year, earning $22 million at the U.S. box office and $35 million worldwide. Lionsgate used the theatrical success of Cabin Fever to raise the money to purchase Artisan Entertainment. Lionsgate stock rose from $1.98 a share at the time Cabin Fever was purchased at the Toronto Film Festival to nearly $6 a share after Cabin Fever was released theatrically. The film made Roth a new star in the horror genre. In his 2004 Premiere Magazine interview for Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino called Cabin Fever his favorite new film and Roth "the future of horror."
Roth's second feature film, Hostel, was made in 2005 on a budget of a little more than $4 million. It opened to No. 1 at the box office in January 2006, taking in $20 million over its opening weekend. It went on to gross $80 million worldwide in box office, and more than $180 million worldwide on DVD. In April 2006 on Eli Roth's birthday, Hostel opened on DVD at No. 1. Although the story is set in Slovakia, all the exteriors were shot in the Czech Republic.
The story line is naively simple – three friends are lured to visit a hostel in which they think their sexual fantasies will come true. Instead, they drop into the clutches of an international syndicate offering a first-hand torturing and killing experience to the sadistic pleasure of rich tourists. The film was voted the No. 1 scariest movie moment on the Bravo TV special 30 Even Scarier Movie Moments. Empire Magazine readers voted Hostel the Best Horror Film of 2007.
Roth reportedly turned down numerous studio directing jobs to make Hostel. He took a directing salary of only $10,000 on Hostel in order to keep the budget as low as possible so there would be no limitations on the violence. In January 2006, film critic David Edelstein in New York Magazine credited Roth with creating the horror sub-genre 'torture porn,' or 'gorno,' using excessive violence to excite audiences like a sexual act.
In 2007, Roth directed the faux trailer segment Thanksgiving for Grindhouse in addition to appearing in Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino's segment of the film. Roth and cowriter Jeff Rendell won a 2007 Spike TV Scream Award for best "screamplay" for their writing in Grindhouse, sharing the honor with Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Rob Zombie and Edgar Wright. Roth also provided the narration for the faux trailer. According to IMDb, Roth will be directing a feature-film version of Thanksgiving to be released in 2014.
Hostel: Part II opened in sixth place with $8.2 million and went on to total $17.6 million by the end of its theatrical run. The film cost $10.2 million and made $35 million worldwide and another $50 million on DVD and pay television.
Lionsgate attributed the lower grosses to the summer release date opposite summer blockbusters such as Shrek 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Ocean's 13, as well as the film's workprint being leaked from a Lionsgate studio executive online prior to the film's release. Close to 2 million illegal workprint downloads were tracked the day Hostel 2 opened theatrically in the U.S.
I don't know if it was the most downloaded film of all time, but there are tracking services that track what movies are being downloaded. And a copy of Hostel 2 leaked out before its release and they had it, it was like millions and millions of hits. Not only was it downloaded, but in the countries it was downloaded — like Mexico and Brazil — there were copies on the street for practically a penny. You could buy Hostel 2 for a quarter in Mexico City. As a result, in a lot of countries where the piracy was bad, they just didn't even release it.
Hostel Part II was nominated for six Spike TV Scream Awards, including best horror film and best director. It was on Entertainment Weekly's list of the 20 best horror films of the past 20 years.
Eli Roth announced that after Inglourious Basterds was done he would begin work on his next film, Endangered Species.
I can’t say anything without giving anything away!… I saw Transformers and Cloverfield and thought, ‘I have an idea for a mass destruction movie.’ But it’s going to be very different from those films. And it’s science fiction, but a little more grounded than that.
He has talked about doing a film called Trailer Trash, a film made of fake trailers; according to an appearance on (the now-defunct) G4, Roth was quoted saying "Trailer Trash is not a horror film, it's a comedy. It will be very R-rated and completely insane, and I'm producing it with Mike Fleiss".
He produced a kung fu film entitled The Man with the Iron Fist, written, directed, and scored by The RZA, who also stars in the film. According to Roth, Quentin Tarantino is involved with as well. In an interview with CHUD, Roth said:
This movie will have everything martial arts fans could want, combined with RZA's superb musical talent. This project has been his dream for years, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. And fans should know that yes, there will be blood... This ain't no PG-13.
Roth has also been a frequent contributor to DVD extras content (liner notes and video commentary) for horror film distributors Grindhouse Releasing/Box Office Spectaculars, particularly on two of his favorite films Juan Piquer Simon's Pieces and the upcoming North American DVD release of Lucio Fulci's Cat in the Brain.
Men's Fitness magazine voted Roth Most Fit Director in their July 2006 issue, a title Roth takes very seriously, with a strict workout routine that he documents on the Hostel DVDs. Roth claims he treats every red carpet like it was a Milan runway, and often jokes that he only makes films as a way to live out his lifelong dream of being a male supermodel. He spoke of his love for fashion in his interview in the October 2007 issue of Italian Vogue.
Roth is an animator, having written, produced, directed, animated and voiced two series: Chowdaheads (1999) and The Rotten Fruit (2000). Chowdaheads was co-written and co-voiced with friend Noah Belson, and was made with traditional hand-drawn animation. The Rotten Fruit, which Roth again co-wrote and co-voiced with Belson, was made with stop-motion animation done with foam puppets.
Roth also participated in the 2006 animated comedy film, Disaster!, voicing the lumberjack during the opening moments of the film. The comical 'death by squirrels' the lumberjack suffers is inspired by Roth's gruesome and often ironic ways of killing characters in his own films.
Roth recorded an audio commentary for Troma's 2005 DVD release of Blood Sucking Freaks having no formal credit, billed only as a "Blood and Guts Expert." The DVD is one of Troma's highest selling. Roth often makes uncredited cameos in Troma films. He made an unbilled cameo as a Tromaville citizen in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV in 2000.
Roth had a role in Quentin Tarantino's half of Grindhouse, Death Proof, in a scene with Jordan Ladd. Tarantino was so impressed by Roth's brief role as Justin in Cabin Fever, he asked Roth to audition for the film. Roth left his preproduction on Hostel Part II in Prague to fly to Austin, Texas for one week to film the scene at the Texas Chili Parlor. Roth said working as an actor for Tarantino was like taking a masterclass in directing, and said the only directors he would ever act for were people who had won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Roth also made appearances in several projects that David Lynch directed for Davidlynch.com.
Eli Roth brought a Raiders of the Lost Ark shot-for-shot remake by kids to the attention of both Harry Knowles and Steven Spielberg. Roth had a copy in his collection of videos for years before showing it at Harry Knowles' Butt-Numb-A-Thon film festival in December, 2002. The response was so overwhelming that Roth took the tape to his very first meeting at DreamWorks, and gave it to an executive to give to Steven Spielberg. The executive called Roth the next week saying that Spielberg loved it and wanted to contact the filmmakers. Roth had never met the filmmakers, but Google-searched every name in the credits until he got a hold of Jayson Lamb, the cinematographer. The three filmmakers, Lamb, Chris Strompolis, and Eric Zala (a former Activision employee), had not spoken to each other in years when Roth contacted them out of the blue, saying that Spielberg wanted to write them a letter. This reunited the friends, who began touring the world doing charity screenings with the film. Roth felt that the film was so powerful he had to do whatever he could to make sure fans around the world saw it. Roth introduced the film at its premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in May 2008, five and a half years after he first got the tape to Knowles and Spielberg.
Roth wrote, directed and acted in a P.S.A. for P.E.T.A. about the link between violence against animals leading to violence against people. Roth won a Telly Award for his spot (Public Service Category: Bronze.)
Roth, through his company Arcade with Eric Newman and Strike producer Marc Abraham, produced the horror film The Last Exorcism, (originally titled Cotton) which was directed by Daniel Stamm. It was completed in December 2009 and in February 2010 retitled The Last Exorcism. The Last Exorcism, which cost $1.5 million to produce, opened to over $20 million in the U.S., and earned the #1 opening spots in Canada and the U.K. The film was completely paid for by selling off a few foreign territories and in profits before shooting began. It earned over $40 million at the U.S. box office, totaling $70 million worldwide. Roth also had a cameo as a contest emcee in Alexandre Aja's Piranha 3-D.
Roth is a curator at the EMP Museum's exhibit "Can't Look Away" about the history of horror. Roth was selected along with directors John Landis and Roger Corman to represent three generations of film directors who have impacted the genre. The installation opened in September 2011, and will be open through 2014.
Roth hosted and executive produced an episode of Discovery channel's series "Curiosity," called "How Evil Are You." In the episode Roth explored the scientific aspect of evil, undergoing a brain scan and DNA sequencing at U.C. Davis with neuropsychiatrist Dr. James Fallon. Roth also recreated the infamous Milgram experiments, and found the results were identical to those done 50 years prior.
On March 8, 2006, Ain't It Cool News announced that Dimension Films had bought the film rights of the Cell by Stephen King and would produce a film to be directed by Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever) for a 2009 release.
Roth opened his haunted house, Eli Roth's Goretorium, on September 27, 2012 in Las Vegas. Haunted Desert LLC, which owns Goretorium, filed for bankruptcy protection July 1, 2013.  On October 2, 2013, Goretorium closed due to bankruptcy.
Roth directed the pilot of Hemlock Grove, a horror/thriller series, that premiered on Netflix on April 19, 2013.
|1998||The Horse Whisperer||No||No||No||Yes||Office Worker #4|
|1999||Terror Firmer||No||No||No||Yes||Shocked Onlooker|
|2000||Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV||No||No||No||Yes||Frightened citizen|
|2002||Cabin Fever||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Justin aka Grim|
|2004||Tales from the Crapper||No||No||No||Yes||Gay Party-goer|
|2007||Hostel: Part II||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Head on stick||Cameo|
|Thanksgiving||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Tucker/Trailer Announcer||Fake trailer|
|2009||Don't Look Up||No||No||No||Yes||Béla Olt|
|Inglourious Basterds||No||No||No||Yes||Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz|
|Nation's Pride||Yes||No||No||No||Film within a film|
|2010||The Last Exorcism||No||Yes||No||No|
|Piranha 3D||No||No||No||Yes||Wet T-shirt contest MC||Cameo|
|2012||The Man with the Iron Fists||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Wolf Clan #2|
|2013||The Last Exorcism Part II||No||Yes||No||No|
|The Green Inferno||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|This section may contain previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. (June 2011)|
Eli Roth has cast certain actors in more than one of his films.
|Cabin Fever||Hostel||Hostel: Part II||Thanksgiving|
2 Possible upcoming role.