The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Poster of the movie The Life and Death of Peter Sellers.jpg
Film poster
Directed byStephen Hopkins
Produced bySimon Bosanquet
Screenplay byChristopher Markus
Stephen McFeely
Based onThe Life and Death of Peter Sellers
by Roger Lewis
StarringGeoffrey Rush
Charlize Theron
Emily Watson
John Lithgow
Miriam Margolyes
Peter Vaughan
Sonia Aquino
Stanley Tucci
Stephen Fry
Music byRichard Hartley
CinematographyPeter Levy
Edited byJohn Smith
HBO Films
BBC Films
Company Pictures
HD Vision Studios
Labrador Films
De Mann Entertainment
Distributed byHBO
Release date
  • May 21, 2004 (2004-05-21) (Cannes)
  • October 1, 2004 (2004-10-01) (United Kingdom)
  • December 5, 2004 (2004-12-05) (United States)
Running time
121 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers is a 2004 British-American television film about the life of English comedian Peter Sellers, based on Roger Lewis's book of the same name.[1] It was directed by Stephen Hopkins and stars Geoffrey Rush as Sellers, Miriam Margolyes as his mother Peg Sellers, Emily Watson as his first wife Anne Howe, Charlize Theron as his second wife Britt Ekland, John Lithgow as Blake Edwards, Stephen Fry as Maurice Woodruff and Stanley Tucci as Stanley Kubrick.

The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film and Rush won Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film. It also won nine Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for Rush.


The film shows Peter Sellers as a complex and tormented genius,[2] whose success as a film star concealed his difficult and relatively unhappy private life. This "troubled life" is the primary focus of this biopic, which personalizes "one of the greatest comic actors in the history of the British cinema,"[3] and shows the many masks he wore and characters he played as an actor.[4]

The film makes clear that much of his success and identity were dependent initially on his domineering and doting mother. Eventually this success, first in radio and eventually in film, led to his succumbing to destructive mood swings and insecurity, and contributed to the deterioration of his marriages. Discovering his gift for comedy, his ego began to undermine his personal relationships with friends and co-workers. His personality became more turbulent. His own personality often merged with that of his film characters, and his self-learned skill as a method actor was used to mask his real self.[5]