Yorgos Lanthimos was born in Athens, Greece. After his parents separated, he was raised by his mother. She died when he was 17, leaving him on his own. He found work to support himself and began to study TV and film directing at the Hellenic Cinema and Television School Stavrakos in Athens.
He began his directing career with a number of dance videos in collaboration with Greek choreographers. Yorgos soon moved on to TV commercials, music videos, short films and theatrical plays before making his first feature, the Greek-language film Kinetta (2005). His second feature, Dogtooth (2009), about a father who keeps his adult children imprisoned at home, won the Un Certain Regard Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, followed by numerous awards at festivals worldwide. Most importantly, it received an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category, gaining Yorgos attention from Hollywood.
His third film, the equally eccentric Alps (2011), won Best Screenplay at the 2011 Venice Film Festival and Best Film at the 2012 Sydney Film Festival. In 2015, his first English language feature film, The Lobster (2015), about a world in which single people have to find partners or be transformed into animals, starred Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz. It was presented at the 68th Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize. It also won Best Screenplay and Best Costume Design at the 2015 European Film Awards and received a 2017 Oscar nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category.
Yorgos hired Colin Farrell again, this time to star his fifth feature film, the bleak, bloody thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), opposite Nicole Kidman. It premiered in competition at the 70th Cannes Film Festival and won the Best Screenplay award.
Although his latest film, The Favourite, starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, has received mixed reviews from the public, it garnered a slew of nominations and awards, including tying with Roma for the most nominations (10) of the year at the 2019 Academy Awards. The film itself received a nomination in the Best Picture category, while Yorgos received a Best Director nomination and all three actresses received acting nods.
Yorgos lives in London with his wife, Greek actress Ariane Labed.