John Polson
Birth Date:
September 6, 1965
Birth Place:
Sydney, Australia
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Siam Sunset


Australian actor, director and producer John Polson first gained notice in his native country for his performances in such films as “Prisoners of the Sun” (1990), “The Sum of Us” (1994) and “The Boys” (1998). He picked up a Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) Award for “The Sum of Us” and an Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for “The Boys.” He also had a supporting role in the Tom Cruise vehicle “Mission: Impossible II” (2000). The recipient of AFI's 1997 Byron Kennedy Award made his feature directorial debut with the Australian comedy “Siam Sunset” (1999), from which he nabbed a Cannes Film Festival Award, a Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival Award and a Fantasporto Award. He went on to direct the Hollywood films “Swimfan” (2002), “Hide and Seek” (2005) and “Tenderness” (2009). In addition, he has directed episodes of the U.S. TV series “Without a Trace,” “Fringe,” “The Good Wife,” “The Mentalist” and “FlashForward.” Polson is the creative founder of the short film festival Tropfest.

Polson is married to casting director Amanda Harding, who has worked on his films “Swimfan” and “Tenderness.” Polson is largely based in the U.S. but travels to Australia several times a year.


Childhood and Family:

John Polson was born on September 6, 1965, in Sydney, Australia, to a musical family. His father, Ron Polson, is a jazz singer, while his mother, Marie Francis, is a pianist. John was inspired to become a saxophone player when he was a child, but made the switch to acting in his late teens. He later also added directing to his endeavors.

John has been married to Amanda Harding, a casting director, since September 24, 2004.

The Boys


An aspiring saxophonist, John Polson was bit by the acting bug at age 17 and soon began performing in theater. Polson made his TV debut in 1985's “Shout! The Story of Johnny O'Keefe,” starring Terry Serio. His feature film debut came with a supporting role in the 1986 movie “For Love Alone,” starring Helen Buday, Sam Neill and Hugo Weaving and directed by Stephen Wallace. The film received several AFI nominations, including Best Screenplay, Adapted, and Best Actress in a Lead Role (Buday), and was nominated for Golden Berlin Bear at the 1987 Berlin International Film Festival.

In 1987, Polson was cast in the TV miniseries “Captain James Cook,” starring Keith Michell, worked with Miles Buchanan, Marcus Graham, Steven Grives, Kathryn Walker and Sandy Lillingston in “Dangerous Game,” a thriller directed by Stephen Hopkins, and appeared with Nicole Kidman in the award winning TV miniseries “Vietnam,” which won a 1988 Logie award. He then costarred with Tushka Bergen, Jochen Horst and Lisa Harrow in the 1988 television series “Always Afternoon” and with Julie Christie, Hugo Weaving and Sarah Jessica Parker in the TV film “Dadah Is Death,” which first aired in Australia on October 23, 1988. Broadcasted in the United States on CBS on October 30, 1988, the Jerry London directed drama earned a 1989 Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics.

Polson next starred with Kelly Dingwall and Rebecca Rigg in the independent drama “Raw Nerve” (1990), for director/writer Tony Willington, played Tony in Mary Callaghan's “Tender Hooks” (1990), supported Chris Haywood, Vincent Ball and John Frawleya in Scott Hicks' crime film “Call Me Mr. Brown” (1990), and was cast in “Prisoners of the Sun” (1990), which was directed by Stephen Wallace. For his work in the latter film, Polson was nominated for a 1990 AFI for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Meanwhile on television, Polson guest starred in the Nine Network series “The Flying Doctors” and starred as Arthur in the TV film “More Winners: The Journey” (also 1990).

In 1992, Polson joined the cast of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) drama series “Embassy” in its third and final season. In the series, he played the role of Vince Cooper. The next year, he portrayed Robbie Agnew in “A Country Practice,” one of the longest running dramatic series in Australia, was cast in the supporting role of Tom in “Sirens,” which was written and directed by John Duigan, and portrayed Cyril in the indie drama “Candy Regentag,” directed by James Ricketson. It was also in 1993 that Polson founded Tropfest, a short movie festival in Sydney. It went on to become the largest festival of its kind in the world. In 2007, Tropfest joined forces with the Tribeca Film Festival to present Tropfest@Tribeca in Battery Park.

1994 saw roles in the TV miniseries “Heartland,” starring Cate Blanchett, the AFI nominated film “Gino,” starring Nicholas Bufalo, Zoe Carides and Bruno Lawrence, and the film adaptation of “The Sum of Us,” opposite Jack Thompson and Russell Crowe. For his portrayal of Greg in the latter film, he picked up a Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA) for Best Supporting Actor - Male and his second AFI nomination.

The year year, Polson starred in the film “Stitched,” by Gregor Jordan, supported Paul Mercurio, Colin Friels and Dee Smart in the thriller “Back of Beyond,” appeared in Samantha Lang's short “Audacious,” and guest starred in the ABC TV series “G.P.” He moved to directing with the 10 minute comedy “What's Going On, Frank,” which he wrote and starred in. Next up for Polson, he played Jonah in David Caesar's “Idiot Box” (1996, opposite Ben Mendelsohn and Jeremy Sims), teamed up with Jacqueline McKenzie and Rebecca Gibney in the TV film “Kangaroo Palace” (1997) and guest starred in “Big Sky” (1997). The actor, however, did not win an AFI Award until he played the supporting role of Glenn Sprague in Rowan Woods' “The Boys” (1998), adapted from Gordon Graham's play of the same name. The role also brought Polson a 1999 FCCA nomination in the category of Best Supporting Actor - Male. Costars of the film included David Wenham, Toni Collette, Lynette Curran and Anthony Hayes.

In 1999, Polson made his feature directing debut with the comedy “Siam Sunset,” starring Linus Roache. Released on September 9, 1999, the film received mixed reviews from critics. “Siam Sunset” was nominated for several AFI Awards, including Best Film and Best Original Screenplay, and brought the director a Grand Golden Rail at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, Best of Puchon at the 1999 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea and the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Film at the 2000 Fantasporto.

Entering the new millennium, Polson landed the supporting role of Billy Baird in the John Woo directed “Mission: Impossible II” (2000), a sequel to Brian De Palma's 1996 film “Mission Impossible” (both starred Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt). He also provided the voice of Billy Baird on the 2003 video game “Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma.”

In 2002, Polson returned to the director's chair to helm Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen, Shiri Appleby, Clayne Crawford, Jason Ritter and Dan Hedaya in his Hollywood debut “Swimfan.” Distributed by 20th Century Fox, the erotic thriller grossed $34.4 million worldwide against a budget of $10 million. He has since focused his energy behind the camera as a director and in 2005 directed Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen, Elizabeth Shue, Amy Irving and Dylan Baker in an American horror film “Hide and Seek.” The film opened at No.1 at the U.S. box office despite receiving primarily negative reviews from critics. However, “Hide and Seek” was nominated for a 2005 Golden Trailer for Best Horror, Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie: Thriller and Choice Movie Scream Scene (Shue) and won a 2005 MTV Movie Award for Best Frightened Performance (Fanning).

Polson branched out to television directing with his work on the CBS series “Without a Trace,” starring Anthony LaPaglia and Poppy Montgomery. He directed about seven episodes during 2006 to 2009. He also produced many episodes during 2007 to 2008.

In 2009, Polson directed Russell Crowe, Jon Foster, Sophie Traub and Laura Dern in the film “Tenderness,” with the script adapted by Emil Stern from a novel by Robert Cormier. The same year, he directed an episode of Fox's “Fringe” called “The No-Brainer” and the CBS legal drama “The Good Wife” called “Unorthodox.” In addition, he has directed episodes of such TV series as “The Mentalist” (4 episodes, 2009-2010), “FlashForward” (4 episodes, 2010), “Happy Town” (1 episode, 2010), “No Ordinary Family” (1 episode, 2010), “Lie to Me” (1 episode, 2011), “Blue Bloods” (1 episode, 2011) and “Body of Proof” (1 episode, 2011).


  • Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award, Best Film, “Siam Sunset,” 2000

  • Cannes Film Festival: Grand Golden Rail, “Siam Sunset,” 1999

  • Hawaii International Film Festival: Best Feature Film, “Siam Sunset,” 1999

  • Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival: Best of Puchon, “Siam Sunset,” 1999

  • Australian Film Institute (AFI): Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, “The Boys,” 1998

  • Australian Film Institute (AFI): Byron Kennedy Award, 1997

  • Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA): Best Supporting Actor - Male, “The Sum of Us,” 1995

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