Michael Cacoyannis was born on June 11, 1921, in Limassol, Cyprus. He studied law in London but also acting and directing. He started his career as an actor in UK, but, not long after that, he decided to focus on directing and writing
Known as the “father” of both the archetypical Greek male and female figures in cinema- Zorbas the Greek, and Stella- Michael Cacoyannis was above all, the director who brought Euripides on the big screen while at the same time he managed to put Greece on the map of international film history.
He made his acting debut in 1947 in London playing Caligula in Albert Camus’ “Caligula” (1949), Herod Antipas in “Salome” by Oscar Wilde, the Interpreter in “Maya” by Simon Gantillon, and many others, just to name a few of his roles.
THE FILM DIRECTOR
Soon enough Michael Cacoyannis realized that directing suited him better. In 1953 he moved to Athens, Greece, where he directed “Windfall in Athens” the following year. His next film “Stella” changed Greek film history and established Melina Merkouri in the international film industry. “Stella”, “A girl in black” (1956), “A matter of dignity” (1958), and his trilogy “Electra” (1962), “The Trojan women” (1971), and “Iphigenia” (1977) along with “Zorba the Greek” (1964) are only a few of his films that participated in some of the most prominent film festivals worldwide, were nominated and even awarded very important prizes.
THE STAGE AND OPERA DIRECTOR
Michael Cacoyannis has distinguished himself not only as an international film maker but also as a stage and opera director with critically acclaimed productions in Greece, the US, France and other European countries. In 2005 he directed his last play “Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare.
Michael Cacoyannis wrote the scripts for all of his films. “Our Last Spring” he co-wrote with Jane Cobb, and “The Wastrel” he co-wrote with Frederic Wakeman. He has published the scripts of “Stella” (1990) and “The Trojan Women” (1973).
Finally, he has written the lyrics to many songs, among them Agapi pou gines dikopo machairi (Love a double-edged knife), composed by Manos Chatzidakis, performed by Melina Merkouri and Epta tragoudia tha sou po (Seven songs I’ll sing to you) also composed by Manos Chatzidakis and performed by Melina Merkouri, both of which were written for “Stella” (1955).