PROFILE
Name:
Baz Luhrmann
Birth Date:
September 17, 1962
Birth Place:
New South Wales, Australia
Height:
5' 7" (1.70 m)
Nationality:
Welsh
Famous for:
Romeo and Juliet' (1996)
BIOGRAPHY
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Moulin Rouge Director

Background:

"All the films I make are about 60% of what I imagine them to be.” Baz Luhrmann

Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated Australian film director, screenwriter and producer Baz Luhrmann is responsible for the feature films "Strictly Ballroom" (1992), "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and "Moulin Rouge!" (2001). The filmmaker, who frequently uses bright distinct colors and fast-paced editing, is now working on his latest film, "Australia," a period epic starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman that will be released on November 13, 2008, in Australia and on November 14, 2008, in the United States.

Luhrmann received a Tony nomination for Best Director for his staging of 1990’s Australia Opera "La Boheme" on Broadway in 2002. He was appointed an Ambassador for the Australian Theatre for Young People in 2005 and recently asked by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to create ads promoting Australia as a tourist destination.

Luhrmann has been married to production designer Catherine Martin since 1997 and has two children.


Aussie Boy

Childhood and Family:

In the small town of Herron's Creek in New South Wales, Australia, Mark Anthony Luhrmann, nicknamed “Baz” (his nickname was given to him due to a perceived resemblance to the character Basil Brush), was born on September 17, 1962. His father, Leonard Luhrmann, served in the Navy in Vietnam and later operated a gas station, did some pig farming and operated the local movie theater. Following his parents' divorce, Luhrmann and his siblings settled with their mother in Sydney. His father, who remarried, died of cancer on November 9, 1999, the first day of filming of Luhrmann's smash hit “Moulin Rouge” (2001).

Luhrmann was educated at St. Joseph's Hasting Regional School, in Port Macquarie, from 1975 to 1978 and at Sydney Grammar School. He graduated from St Augustine’s College in Sydney, after leaving St Pauls College. He also attended the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, in Sydney, Australia.

On January 26, 1997, Luhrmann married Catherine Martin, the production designer of all of his films. They have two children, daughter Lillian (Lilly) Amanda (born in Sydney on October 10, 2003) and son William Alexander (born on June 8, 2005).


Strictly Ballroom

Career:

“That's the only plan I've got - to not have a plan.” Baz Luhrmann

Enthralled by the power of storytelling, teenager Baz Luhrmann decided to pursue a career as an actor and landed his first film role alongside Bryan Brown and Judy Davis in writer/director John Duigan's independent romantic drama "Winter of Our Dreams" (1981). He followed it up with a small role in "The Highest Honor - A True Story" (1982). Luhrmann, who ballroom danced as a child, also began working on a romantic comedy stage production about competitive ballroom dancing called "Strictly Ballroom," which would be first staged in 1986 and adapted into a huge hit film in 1992.

Luhrmann next received a featured role in the Australian TV docudrama "Kids of the Cross" (1983), which would be his last screen acting role. In 1985, while studying at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, he was able to observe director Peter Brook working on the production of "The Mahabarata." The following year, he devised and staged a 30-minute theatrical version of "Strictly Ballroom" as well as the musical "Crocodile Creek."

After forming the Six Years Old Company in 1987, Luhrmann staged a revised and expanded version of "Strictly Ballroom" in 1988. He also staged "Dance Hall" (1989) for the Sydney Festival.

The early 1990s saw Luhrmann direct Giacomo Puccini's "La Boheme" for the Australian Opera. He also staged an opera by Felix Meagher, "Lake Lost," in 1990.

1992 marked Luhrmann's feature debut as director and co-scenarist (with Craig Pearce and Andrew Bovell) when he adapted his own play, "Strictly Ballroom," into film. The film premiered at Cannes where it won an Award of the Youth - Foreign Film. It also won eight awards from the Australian Film Institute, including Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted and Best Director, as well as scooped up the Newcomer of the Year award from the London Critics Circle Film, the Best Foreign Film award from the Robert Festival, the People's Choice Award from the Toronto International Film Festival, and Most Popular Film from the Vancouver International Film Festival. Additionally, the film was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Film and Best Screenplay – Adapted.

Following his big break, Luhrmann directed "A Midsummer Night's Dream" in 1992 for the Australian Opera and directed and adapted (with Craig Pearce) William Shakespeare's "Romeo + Juliet" (1996; starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes), in which he reset the timeless tale in present-day Verona Beach. Like his first film, this adaptation also garnered rave reviews, winning two BAFTA awards for Best Screenplay – Adapted and a David Lean Award for Direction. It also received an Alfred Bauer Award from the Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1996, Luhrmann established BazMark.Inq. and produced a compilation album, "Baz Luhrmann Presents ... Something for Everyone" (1998), which contained the surprise pop single "Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen.” The lyrics were written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich and the vocals were performed by Lee Perry.

“So, yes, we won for ourselves a criteria, a mantra, which is that we only make what we want to make in the way we want to make it. I believe we make universal stories for the world, but it has an Australian voice, and to maintain that voice you must be connected to your land. So the need to be in Australia motivated us to motivate Fox to build this studio down there, where they now shoot "Star Wars" and "The Matrix," so it's a wonderful facility.” Baz Luhrmann

After signing an exclusive five-year deal with 20th Century Fox in 1998, Luhrmann helmed and co-wrote the script (with Craig Pearce) of the unconventional musical "Moulin Rouge" (2001; starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman), for which Luhrmann's wife Catherine Martin designed the sets and co-designed the costumes. The film was released to both commercial and critical success and was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture. It won two, one for art direction and costume design and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Director - Motion Picture.

In 2002, Luhrmann staged his 1990 Australia Opera production set in 1950s Paris, "La Boheme," on Broadway, which earned him a Tony nomination for Best Director. Two years later, in late 2004, he directed the world's most expensive advertisement for Chanel No 5, a four-minute short film titled "No 5: The Film," which was inspired by his “Red Curtain” trilogy and stars Nicole Kidman and Rodrigo Santoro.

Luhrmann is currently working on his latest film project, "Australia," a period epic that takes place during the bombing of Darwin in Australia during World War II. Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, the movie will be released on November 13, 2008, in Australia, and on November 14, 2008, in the United States.

Luhrmann, who was appointed an Ambassador for the Australian Theatre for Young People in 2005, recently was asked by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to make new ads to promote Australia as a tourist destination.


Awards:

  • Empire: Best Director, "Moulin Rouge," 2002

  • Broadcast Film Critics Association: Critics Choice Award - Best Director, "Moulin Rouge," 2002

  • Film Critics Circle of Australia: Best Director, "Moulin Rouge," 2002

  • PGA: Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award, "Moulin Rouge," 2002

  • Robert Festival: Best Non-American Film (Årets ikke-amerikanske film), "Moulin Rouge," 2002

  • Satellite: Golden Satellite - Best Director, "Moulin Rouge," 2002

  • Vancouver Film Critics Circle: Best Director, "Moulin Rouge," 2002

  • Hollywood Film Festival: Hollywood Movie of the Year, "Moulin Rouge," 2001

  • European Film: Screen International Award, "Moulin Rouge," 2001

  • World Soundtrack: Most Creative Use of Existing Material on a Soundtrack, "Moulin Rouge," 2001

  • BAFTA: Best Screenplay - Adapted, "Romeo + Juliet," 1998

  • BAFTA: David Lean Award for Direction, "Romeo + Juliet," 1998

  • Berlin International Film Festival: Alfred Bauer Award, "Romeo + Juliet," 1997

  • London Critics Circle Film: Newcomer of the Year, "Strictly Ballroom," 1993

  • Robert Festival: Best Foreign Film (Årets udenlandske spillefilm), "Strictly Ballroom," 1993

  • Cannes Film Festival: Award of the Youth - Foreign Film, "Strictly Ballroom," 1992

  • Australian Film Institute (AFI): Best Director, "Strictly Ballroom," 1992

  • Australian Film Institute (AFI): Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted, "Strictly Ballroom," 1992

  • Toronto International Film Festival: People's Choice Award, "Strictly Ballroom," 1992

  • Vancouver International Film Festival: Most Popular Film, "Strictly Ballroom," 1992

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