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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 18:24 GMT
Guy Ritchie's rise to fame
Business pals Chris Evans, Ritchie, Vinnie Jones and Matthew Vaughan
Business pals Chris Evans, Ritchie, Vinnie Jones and Matthew Vaughan
Guy Ritchie shot to fame after his film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels catapulted its way into cinemas in 1998.

Millions of people flocked to see his depiction of the dodgy dealings of London gangsters, and it went on to become a multi-award winner, grossing 11.7m at the UK box office.

His second film, Snatch, also did well, taking 3m in its first weekend earlier this year, a record opening for an 18-rated film. The diamond-heist drama has so far grossed 12.3m in the UK and is soon to be released in the US.

But, of course, it is not just Ritchie's film successes that command the hundreds of column inches written about him each week.

The 32-year-old's relationship with pop icon Madonna has caught the imagination of the public.

Madonna and Ritchie
Madonna and Ritchie: Soon to make it official
Stories about the couple, their impending marriage, the birth of their son Rocco, even their home being burgled, are lapped up by the press.

It is reported that they met through pop star Sting's wife Trudie Styler, who introduced them while she was working with Ritchie on Lock Stock.

But despite the added attention it has given him, Ritchie remains laid-back about his love-life, referring affectionately to Madonna as "the missus".

He is known for his dislike of press intrusion into his private life, and does not give much away about himself, preferring to concentrate on his films.

He began his career as a film runner in the UK in 1993, quickly progressing to directing music promos for bands and commercials by 1995.

Ritchie and Brad Pitt t
Ritchie managed to get Brad Pitt to star in Snatch
The money he made from this enabled him to direct his first film - Hard Case, a 20-minute short.

And after meeting his producing partner Matthew Vaughn, the two formed SKA Films.

They went on to make Lock Stock, and two years later Snatch was released.

Speaking on Film 2000 with Jonathan Ross, he said he had chosen the gangster genre because "it was a market which I thought had not been exploited. So I wanted to go in there and exploit it".

"And you know... it sort of lent itself to my sort of personality at the time," he added.

'More sinister'

Ritchie also spotted the acting potential in footballer Vinnie Jones, who terrified opponents on the field with his crunching tackles.

The director and screenwriter won worldwide acclaim, and found himself being compared to the likes of Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino and action director John Woo.

He also managed to secure Hollywood star Brad Pitt for Snatch, as the roguish Irish-gypsy smuggler.

"It's a film made in the same vein as Lock, Stock and hopefully, those people who enjoyed the first will enjoy this one too," Ritchie said when the film was released.

"But this does have a different flavour. It has more sinister undertones and it is not quite as silly as Lock, Stock."

He is now working on a 17th Century civil war action drama, which is slated for production in 2001.

'She's brilliant'

Less is known about his early life, although reports that he grew up in the East End were scotched by revelations that he spent much of his childhood at Loton Park, in Shropshire, the 17th century home of his baronet stepfather.

He was angry at this, saying he never claimed to have lived in the east London for 30 years.

Ritchie was born in Hatfield in Hertfordshire in 1968. His parents divorced when he was five, and he went to live with his mother, Amber, who was a model, and her new husband, Sir Michael Leighton, until she divorced again when he was 12.

It is reported that his severe dyslexia meant he attended a total of 10 schools, and left with one GCE in film studies.

He got a job at Island Records, before pursuing his interest in film-making.

It also looks as if his partnership with Madonna is not just confined to their domestic life in Notting Hill.

When asked if she ever got in involved in his film-making, he replied: "Oh, yes, she's brilliant for films. Yes, she's been very involved in throwing her two bob in one way or the other, and I ask her opinions.

"Yes, she's very interested in films."

It sounds like a marriage made in heaven.

See also:

07 Dec 00 | Scotland
07 Dec 00 | Entertainment
02 Dec 00 | Entertainment
22 Nov 00 | Entertainment
01 Sep 00 | Entertainment
22 Aug 00 | Entertainment
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