1. Headline
  1. Headline

Photos: Roman Polanski’s life, career

loading photos...
  1. Love lost

    Roman Polanski, the French film director of Polish origin, poses with his wife, American actress Sharon Tate, in London in the 1960s. In 1969, a pregnant Tate was murdered by followers of Charles Manson. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. French legend

    Polanski, left, is seen with French actress Catherine Deneuve and producer Eugene Gutowski in London on Aug. 17, 1964. Deneuve was about to star in Polanski's film "Repulsion." (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Hollywood mark

    Actress Mia Farrow stars in Polanski's 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby." The director established his reputation as a major commercial filmmaker with the success of the film about a woman whose pregnancy is awash in horror and satanic doings. Polanski's screenplay adaptation earned him an Academy Award nomination. (Paramount Pictures via Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Violent Shakespeare

    Polanski, left, takes part in a news conference with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner on Aug. 2, 1970, concerning their planned film production of Shakespeare's "Macbeth." The bleak and violent film was Polanski's first feature following his wife's murder. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Behind the camera

    Polanski is seen on location shooting Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' in Northumberland, England, in 1970. (Ian Tyas / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Major success

    Actress Faye Dunaway takes instructions from Polanski on the set of "Chinatown." Polanski returned to Hollywood in 1973 to make the classic detective story. A major critical and box office succes in the summer of 1974, the film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. Stars Jack Nicholson and Dunaway both received Oscar nominations for their roles, but screenwriter Robert Towne won the lone Oscar for the film. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Legal trouble

    Polanski leaves court in Santa Monica, Calif., in September 1977. The director was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl he photographed during a modeling session at Nicholson's home in Los Angeles. In a deal with prosecutors, Polanski pled guilty to one of six charges against him, unlawful sexual intercourse, and was sent to prison for 42 days of psychological evaluation. Faced with the prospect of further prison time, Polanski fled the country in 1978, living as an exile in France. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Another thriller

    Polanski's film career grew fitful as financing became harder to securein the early '80s. He remained busy with theater and opera productions in Europe but proved he could still land major film stars with 1988's "Frantic," starring Harrison Ford and Emmanuelle Seigner, whom Polanski would marry in 1989. (Warner Bros. Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Cannes carpet

    Polanski and Seigner arrive at the gala screening of his film "The Pianist" during the 55th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 24, 2002. The couple have two children together. (Francois Guillot / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Oscar winner

    "The Pianist" tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish pianist (played by Adrien Brody) who, during World War II, lived in the Warsaw ghettos. He escaped from Nazi concentration camps, and, thanks to music, lived to tell about it. The film is based on Szpilman's memoir, published in 1946. Brody won an Oscar for his role. (Studio Canal) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. His story

    Polanski celebrates after being awarded the Golden Palm for "The Pianist" during the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival on May 26, 2002. The story "was something I know about, remember very well, something that could help me recreate the events without talking about myself," Polanski said at Cannes. (Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Special delivery

    Polanski, right, shows off his Academy Award for best director for "The Pianist" which he received from Harrison Ford during the American Film festival in Deauville, France, on Sept. 7, 2003. Polanski could not receive the award at the actual Oscar ceremony because he was still wanted in the United States. (Mychele Daniau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. His own 'Twist'

    Polanski followed "The Pianist" with the 2005 Charles Dickens adaptation, "Oliver Twist." (TriStar Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Something to sink his teeth into

    Polanski poses with an actor during a news conference to present his musical "Dance of the Vampires" in Berlin, Germany, on Oct. 11, 2006. (Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Enough is enough

    Polanski angrily leaves a news conference at the 60th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2007, during a gathering of equally renowned peers. The director told journalists that their questions about an anthology of short films the filmmakers had all worked on were pathetic. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Wave for 'W.'

    Polanski waves on the red carpet before a screening of director Oliver Stone's film "W." at the Turin Film Festival in Turin, Italy, on Nov. 21, 2008. (Massimo Pinca / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. New documentary

    Polanski is seen in Oberhausen, Germany, on Sept. 29, 2008. That year, the Emmy-winning documentary "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired" debuts at the Sundance Film Festival, reigniting the debate over the case against the director. The documentary uncovers new information about actions by the late Judge Laurence J. Rittenband, suggesting he inappropriately consulted with a prosecutor not assigned to the case. (Roberto Pfeil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Still shooting

    Polanski is seen during the shooting of his film "The Ghost" in List on Sylt, Germany, on Feb. 23, 2009. The story centers on a ghostwriter who is hired to complete the memoirs of a former British prime minister. He uncovers secrets that put his own life in jeopardy. Most of the story takes place in an oceanfront house during the middle of winter. (Georg Supanz / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

updated 9/28/2009 4:11:54 PM ET 2009-09-28T20:11:54

Imprisoned director Roman Polanski is in a “fighting mood” and will battle U.S. attempts to have him extradited from Switzerland to California to face justice for having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, his lawyer said Monday.

An international tug-of-war over the 76-year-old director escalated Monday as France and Poland urged Switzerland to free him on bail and pressed U.S. officials all the way up to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the case.

Polanski was in his third day of detention after Swiss police arrested him Saturday on an international warrant as he arrived in Zurich to receive a lifetime achievement award from a film festival.

Authorities in Los Angeles consider Polanski a “convicted felon and fugitive.” The director had pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl. He was sent to prison for 42 days but then the judge tried to renege on the plea bargain. On the day of his sentencing in 1978, aware the judge would sentence him to more prison time, Polanski fled to France.

Polanski has told Swiss officials that he will contest a U.S. request that he be transferred to the United States, attorney Herve Temime said in an e-mail. Temime said Polanski’s legal team would try to prove that the U.S. request was illegal and that the Oscar-winning director should be released from Swiss custody.

“Taking into account the extraordinary conditions of his arrest, his Swiss lawyer will seek his freedom without delay,” Temime said.

The lawyer said he was able to speak with Polanski from his Zurich cell and that the director was allowed to meet with his wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.

“He was shocked, dumbfounded, but he is in a fighting mood and he is very determined to defend himself,” Temime said.

Now a complicated legal process awaits all sides. While France expressed hope that Polanski would be freed shortly, Swiss officials said there would be no rash decision.

The Swiss Justice Ministry on Monday did not rule out the possibility that Polanski, director of such classic films as “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” could be released on bail under very strict conditions that he doesn’t flee Switzerland.

Justice spokesman Guido Balmer said such an arrangement is “not entirely excluded” under Swiss law and that Polanski could file a motion on bail. But he said Switzerland’s top criminal court would undertake a thorough examination of evidence before deciding on any request, and that would take time.

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

“This is a legal story,” Balmer told The AP. “There is no room for political pressure.”

French official: Arrest is a ‘bit sinister’
In Paris, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he hoped Polanski could be quickly freed by the Swiss, calling the apprehension a “bit sinister.” He and his Polish counterpart Radek Sikorski wrote to Clinton and called Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey about the case.

“(Polanski was) thrown to the lions,” said French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand. “In the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has just shown its face.”

Polanski, who has dual French-Polish citizenship, has hired Swiss attorney Lorenz Erni to represent him in Switzerland.

Polanski seems most likely to spend several months in detention, unless he agrees to forgo any challenge to his extradition to the United States. Under a 1990 accord between Switzerland and the U.S., Washington has 60 days to submit a formal request for his transfer. Rulings in a similar dispute four years ago over Russia’s former atomic energy minister Yevgeny Adamov confirmed that subjects should be held in custody throughout the procedure. Adamov’s extradition to Russia took seven months.

The U.S. request for Polanski’s transfer must first be examined by the Swiss Justice Ministry, and once approved it can be appealed at a number of courts.

For now, Polanski is living in a Zurich cell where he receives three meals a day and is allowed outside for one hour of daily exercise.

Rebecca de Silva, spokeswoman for the Zurich prison authorities, refused to say exactly where Polanski was being held for security reasons, but said cells are usually single or double occupancy and that each room contains a table, storage compartment, sink, toilet and television.

Image: Roman Polanski
STR  /  AFP - Getty Images
A 1977 photo shows Roman Polanski, right, leaving the Santa Monica Superior Court with his attorney Douglas Dalton after pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. The 43-year old husband of murdered actress Sharon Tate originally had been indicted of five other counts involving alleged drugging and raping of the girl at the home of actor Jack Nicholson.
Family and friends can only see Polanski for an hour each week, but that does not include official visits from lawyers and consular diplomats, de Silva said.

The Justice Ministry insisted Sunday that politics played no role in its arrest order for Polanski, who lives in France but has spent much time at a chalet in the luxury Swiss resort of Gstaad. That has led to widespread speculation among his friends and even politicians in Switzerland that the neutral country was coerced by Washington into action.

Temime, Polanski’s lawyer, told the daily Le Parisien that the filmmaker stayed in Gstaad for months this year.

“He came here, but I have no idea how frequently,” said Toni von Gruenigen, deputy mayor of Saarnen, where the famously discreet community is located. “He kept a low profile.”

Balmer, of the Justice Ministry, said the court theoretically could confine Polanski to his Gstaad chalet, but noted that “up to now there has never been a case of house arrest in such a situation.”

The U.S. has had an outstanding warrant on Polanski since 1978, but the Swiss said American authorities have sought the arrest of the director around the world only since 2005.

The arrest was prompted by a request from the U.S. Marshals Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, which includes the Los Angeles Police Department. Investigators with the service learned midweek that Polanski would be traveling to Switzerland and sought a provisional arrest warrant. The departments of State and Justice must sign off on those requests and forward them to the proper foreign entity, in this case Swiss justice officials.

William Sorukas, chief of the US Marshals Service domestic investigations branch, said “there have been other times through the years when we have learned of his potential travel but either those efforts fell through or he didn’t make the trip.”

The State Department offered no direct comment today on the French and Polish views about extraditing Polanski. Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said he would defer to the Department of Justice and the state of California for comment.

Crowley said the State Department’s role would simply be to review the formal extradition request. The Justice Department reviews international arrest and extradition requests to assure the crimes are covered by treaties with the country where the fugitive is.

Polanski has asked a U.S. appeals court in California to overturn a judges’ refusal to throw out his case. He claims misconduct by the now-deceased judge who had arranged a plea bargain and then reneged on it.

His victim, Samantha Geimer, who long ago identified herself, has joined in Polanski’s bid for dismissal, saying she wants the case to be over. She sued Polanski and reached an undisclosed settlement.

Earlier this year, Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza in Los Angeles dismissed Polanski’s bid to throw out the case because the director failed to appear in court, but said there was “substantial misconduct” in the handling of the original case.

Espinoza said he reviewed not only legal documents, but also watched the HBO documentary, “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” which suggests there was behind-the-scenes manipulations by a now-retired prosecutor not assigned to the case.

A native of France who was taken to Poland by his parents, Polanski escaped Krakow’s Jewish ghetto as a child during World War II and lived off the charity of strangers. His mother died at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp.

Flourishing career
Polanski has lived for the past three decades in France, where his career has continued to flourish; he received a directing Oscar in absentia for the 2002 movie “The Pianist.” He and Seigner have two children.

He has avoided traveling to countries likely to extradite him. Balmer said the difference this time was that authorities knew when and where Polanski would arrive.

Balmer also rejected any hint that the arrest was somehow aimed at winning favor with the U.S. after a series of bilateral spats over tax evasion and wealthy Americans stashing money at Swiss banking giant UBS AG.

“There was a valid arrest request and we knew when he was coming. That’s why he was taken into custody,” Balmer told The AP. “There is no link with any other issues.”

The arrest prompted angry criticism Monday from fellow filmmakers and actors across Europe.

“It seems inadmissible ... that an international cultural evening, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, is used by police to apprehend him,” says a petition circulating in France and signed by artists including Pedro Almodovar, Constantin Costa-Gavras, Stephen Frears and Monica Bellucci.

Oscar-winning director Andrzej Wajda and other Polish filmmakers also appealed for Polanski’s immediate release.

“(He has) atoned for the sins of his young years,” Jacek Bromski, head of the Polish Filmmakers Association, told The AP. “He has paid for it by not being able to enter the U.S. and in his professional life he has paid for it by not being able to make films in Hollywood.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Obama on ISIS airstrikes: 'This is not America's fight alone'

    President Barack Obama, speaking publicly for the first time after airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, declared Tuesday that the partnership of Arab allies “makes it clear to the world that this is not America’s fight alone.”

    9/23/2014 2:22:39 PM +00:00 2014-09-23T14:22:39
  1. Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

    Babies born on live TV return to celebrate their 1st birthday

    9/23/2014 10:55:13 AM +00:00 2014-09-23T10:55:13
  1. Rob Kim / Getty Images

    Miss America organization defends Kira Kazantsev in wake of hazing report

    9/23/2014 1:16:58 PM +00:00 2014-09-23T13:16:58
  1. Kenny Chesney gets audience, Hoda to kick off their shoes on plaza

    When you want to give an “attaboy” to some folks, you say “hats off!" In the case of the talented country singer Kenny Chesney, it’s perhaps appropriate to say “shoes off!

    9/23/2014 2:25:43 PM +00:00 2014-09-23T14:25:43
  2. video Watch him perform ‘Somewhere with You’

    video The country music superstar performs his stand-out single live on TODAY.

    9/23/2014 2:21:57 PM +00:00 2014-09-23T14:21:57
  3. TODAY