Credit: Shutterstock/Credit

Any good movie is filled with secrets

Mike Nichols was an American director, although just saying that would be selling his accomplishments short. He was one of the few people in history to have claimed an EGOT - Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony - for his work, and was highly acclaimed and successful in both Hollywood and Broadway.

His work includes both the stage and screen adaptations of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which became only one of two films to garner Oscar nominations in every available category, and the film that introduced Dustin Hoffman- The Graduate. Between the two films, Nichols had earned 20 Oscar nominations.

Born Mikhail Igor Peschkowsk, his family had recently fled the Russian Revolution and were living in Berlin when the Nazi regime began to round up Jewish families. Young Mikhail was sent to the US to join his father, who had fled previously due to his Jewish heritage. His mother would join the family a few months later after escaping through Italy. The family name was anglicised to Nichols when the family were reunited.

Nichols was renowned for getting the best performance possible from his casts, with Elizabeth Taylor impressed enough by the directors stage work that she persuaded her husband, Richard Burton, to present a united front to the Hollywood money-men, and take a chance on the director with his first feature film. The Burtons’ biographer would later say that neither Elizabeth nor Richard would reach the same heights of performance that Nichols extracted from them.