Baz Luhrmann (born Mark Anthony Luhrmann, 17 September 1962) is an Australian writer, director, and producer with projects spanning film, television, opera, theatre, music, and recording industries. He is regarded by many as a contemporary example of an auteur for his distinctly recognizable style and deep involvement in the writing, directing, design, and musical components of all his work. He is the most commercially successful Australian director, with four of his films in the top ten highest worldwide grossing Australian films of all time.
Luhrmann in 2013
Mark Anthony Luhrmann
17 September 1962
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
|Alma mater||Narrabeen Sports High School|
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, producer, actor|
Catherine Martin (m. 1997)
On the screen he is best known for his Red Curtain Trilogy, comprising his romantic comedy film Strictly Ballroom (1992), the romantic tragedy William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996), and Moulin Rouge! (2001). Following the trilogy, projects included Australia (2008), The Great Gatsby (2013), and his television period drama The Get Down for Netflix. Additional projects include stage productions of Giacomo Puccini's La bohème for both the Australian Opera and Broadway and Strictly Ballroom the Musical.
Luhrmann is equally known for his Grammy-nominated soundtracks for Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby, as well as his record label House of Iona, a co-venture with RCA Records. Serving as producer on all of his musical soundtracks, he also holds writing credits on many of the individual tracks. His album Something For Everybody features music from many of his films and also includes his hit "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)".
Luhrmann's influence has extended outside the traditional realm of media and entertainment. Deeply involved in the fashion and art worlds, Luhrmann's No. 5 the Film for Chanel not only holds a Guinness World Record for the highest budget for an advertising commercial ever produced, but pioneered the now commonplace genre of fashion film and branded content. Luhrmann works closely with the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Anna Wintour Costume Center, having chaired its famous annual gala as well as producing a short film for the museum, celebrating Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli. More recently he and wife Catherine Martin have adapted their distinctive style for projects in events, retail, architecture and design with Barneys New York and developer and hotelier Alan Faena.
Luhrmann was born in Sydney. His mother, Barbara Carmel (née Brennan), was a ballroom dance teacher and dress shop owner, and his father, Leonard Luhrmann, ran a petrol station and a movie theatre. He was raised in Herons Creek, a tiny rural settlement in northern New South Wales. He attended St Joseph's Hastings Regional School, Port Macquarie (1975–1978); St Paul's Catholic College, performing in the school's version of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, and Narrabeen Sports High School, where he met future collaborator Craig Pearce.
Luhrmann received the nickname "Baz" from his father, given to him because of his afro hair style, the name coming from the English Basil Brush. While still in high school, Luhrmann changed his name by deed poll to Bazmark, joining his nickname and birth name together. In 1980 Luhrmann graduated high school and in the same year was cast opposite Judy Davis in the Australian film Winter of Our Dreams. In 1982 using the money he had earned from film and television experience he funded his own theatre company, The Bond Theatre Company, with future friends and collaborators, Nelly Hooper and Gabrielle Mason. The company performed at the Pavilion at Sydney's Bondi Beach. At the same time he conceived and appeared in a controversial television documentary, Kids of the Cross, where Luhrmann, embedded as a character, lived with a group of street kids. In 1983, he began an acting course at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. He graduated in 1985 alongside Sonia Todd, Catherine McClements and Justin Monjo. On 26 January 1997, he married Catherine Martin, a production designer; the couple have two children.
Luhrmann supports the Melbourne Demons in the Australian Football League.
After theatrical successes, including the original stage version of Strictly Ballroom, Luhrmann moved into film and has directed five so far:
- Red Curtain Trilogy:
- Strictly Ballroom (1992)
- Romeo + Juliet (1996)
- Moulin Rouge! (2001)
- Australia (2008)
- The Great Gatsby (2013)
The modern film interpretation Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, defeated Titanic at the BAFTAs for best direction, music and screenplay. The film was celebrated at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was recognised with the Gold Bear award for direction and Silver Bear for DiCaprio's performance. Luhrmann also produced both volumes of the soundtrack album, which went triple-platinum.
Luhrmann's Oscar-winning musical Moulin Rouge! (2001), set in the Montmartre Quarter of Paris at the dawn of the 20th century, told the story of a young English poet/writer, Christian (Ewan McGregor) who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine (Nicole Kidman). The film was praised by its adherents, including famed musical directors Robert Wise and Stanley Donen, as having re-invented the modern musical, blending decades of popular music in remixes and mash-ups. The movie was named one of the AFI's top ten films of 2001 and in 2010 was chosen as the top film of the 2000s decade in a poll of 150,000 respondents in the United Kingdom. At the 59th Annual Golden Globes, Moulin Rouge! took home the awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Actress, and Best Original Score. The film also gave birth to a successful soundtrack album, produced by Luhrmann, which sold more than seven million copies and went double-platinum, led by the Grammy-winning number one hit single "Lady Marmalade".
Luhrmann's 2008 historical epic Australia featured some of the country's most celebrated actors, including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, and David Gulpilil. Situated between the two World Wars, the film blended a nostalgic romance with major events from Australian history, including the Bombing of Darwin, and the true story of the Stolen Generations, wherein thousands of mixed-race Aboriginal children were stolen from their families by the state and forcibly integrated into white society. The movie's racial politics were controversial for their time, and notably, its production coincided with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's 2008 Apology to Australia's Indigenous peoples. Marcia Langton, professor of Australian indigenous studies at Melbourne University publicly supported the film, saying "Luhrmann depicts with satirical sharpness the racial caste system of that time... In his imagined cinema of the 1940s, the spatial and social shape of racism is reconstructed with such exact detail, I felt I had been transported back to my own childhood." While achieving modest box office success in the United States, the film was very successful in Europe, maintaining the #1 slot at the box office for many weeks in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Scandinavian countries. It is the second-highest grossing Australian film of all time, next to Crocodile Dundee and ahead of Happy Feet.
In 2013, Luhrmann adapted F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, shot in 3D, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, Australian newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker, and legendary Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim. For the film, Luhrmann and costume/production designer Catherine Martin collaborated with Prada, Brooks Brothers, and Tiffany & Co to create period-inspired dresses, suits, and jewelry based on their own archives and true to the book's own references to luxury brands. The film grossed over $353 million worldwide, making it the director's highest-grossing movie to date. Critic Richard Roeper described the adaptation as "the best attempt yet to capture the essence of the novel” while Fitzgerald's granddaughter praised the movie, saying "Scott would have been proud." The following year, at the 86th Academy Awards, the film won in both of its nominated categories: Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. The soundtrack, produced by Luhrmann, Anton Monsted, and Jay-Z, sought to blend the music of the Jazz Age with contemporary hip-hop as two historical analogues. Featured artists included Beyoncé, Jack White, Lana Del Rey, Sia, will.i.am, The xx, and Florence and the Machine; the soundtrack also included score from the film's composer and Luhrmann's repeat collaborator Craig Armstrong. The album's sales exceeded expectations, marking the biggest digital sales week for a soundtrack in Billboard history, and peaking at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart.
Luhrmann is currently in pre-production for a film about Elvis Presley's relationship with Colonel Tom Parker, set to start filming in February 2020 and due to be released in October 2021. In March 2018, it was announced that Tom Hanks would play Parker and later in July, news broke that Austin Butler had been cast as the famed singer after a series of screen tests, as well as music and performance workshops.
In 2016, Luhrmann collaborated with award-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis on the Netflix series The Get Down about the birth of hip-hop in the 1970s. For the series, Luhrmann brought on Nas, Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow and DJ Kool Herc as producers, to help tell the story of the rise of hip hop, punk, and disco during shifting cultural and political transformation through his unique brand of magical realism. The series featured two parts, praised for its vibrant music, fresh cast and authenticity, due to the involvement of many of the era's key historical figures in central roles to the show's development. Part One was certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, with a score of 77%, while Part Two of the series holds a critic score of 86%.
Acting and director credits
|The Get Down||2016–2017||Streaming on Netflix|
|A Country Practice (TV)||1981–82||Jerry Percival||Guest star for six episodes.|
|Winter of Our Dreams (film)||1981||Pete||Also starred Judy Davis and Bryan Brown.|
|The Bedroom (film)||1982||First student||Small role.|
|The Highest Honor (film)||1982||Able Seaman A. W. Huston||Also starred Steve Bisley.|
|Kids of the Cross (TV documentary)||1983||Himself||Filmed in Sydney in 1981. Produced by Mike Willesee.|
|Are You Lonesome Tonight?||1982||Unknown||Performed at Nimrod Downstairs, Sydney. Directed by Peter Kingston.|
|Fanshen||1983||Peasant||Performed at NIDA, Sydney.|
|Holiday Makers||1984||Unknown||Performed at NIDA. Directed by Nick Enright.|
|All's Well That Ends Well||1984||Dumain Brother||Performed at NIDA. Directed by Kevin Jackson.|
|Strictly Ballroom||1984; 1986||Ross Pierce||Performed at NIDA in 1984, and in Bratislava in 1986; also directed.|
|Dreamplay||1985||Unknown||Performed at NIDA. Directed by Jim Sharman.|
|Funeral Games||1985||Unknown||Part of the Hallucinogenics? 3 plays from the 60s event. Performed at NIDA. Directed by Egil Kipste.|
|Chamber Music||1985||Unknown||Part of the Hallucinogenics? 3 plays from the 60s event. Performed at NIDA. Directed by Ros Horin.|
|The Greeks||1985||Unknown||Trilogy: The War, The Murders, The Gods. Performed at NIDA, and St Martin's Youth Arts Centre, Melbourne.|
|Once in a Lifetime||1985||Unknown||Performed at NIDA. Directed by Gale Edwards.|
|Crocodile Creek||1986||–||Directed for the New Moon Theatre Company in Rockhampton. Amateur musical production set in the Queensland goldfields.|
|The Conquest of the South Pole||1989||Unknown||Performed at Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney. Directed by Jim Sharman.|
- 1981: A young Luhrmann can be seen in an early acting role in the film Winter of Our Dreams, directed by John Duigan. Luhrmann has a small part playing opposite Judy Davis.
- 1992: Luhrmann directed a video for John Paul Young's "Love Is in the Air", which was rereleased to coincide with the release of Strictly Ballroom in which the song was featured prominently.
- 1993: Luhrmann staged his interpretation of Benjamin Britten's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, set in colonial India, for the Australian Opera. After successful seasons in Sydney and Melbourne, the production went on to win the Critics' Prize at the Edinburgh Festival. Music extracts can be heard on his album Something for Everybody.
- 1993: Luhrmann assisted in the election campaign of former Australian prime minister Paul Keating.
- 1997: The CD of Something for Everybody was released, featuring music from Luhrmann's films and operas including his version of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Moreover, Luhrmann created his own company with his wife Catherine Martin: Bazmark.
- 1999: As a music producer, Luhrmann is credited with "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", a successful spoken word song in Europe and the Americas.
- 2002: Luhrmann brought his production of Puccini's La bohème to the Broadway Theatre in New York City. Originally produced for Opera Australia in Sydney in 1990, once in New York it eventually received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Direction (Luhrmann), Best Orchestrations (Nicholas Kitsopoulos), Best Costume Design (Catherine Martin), and winning Best Set Design (Catherine Martin), Best Lighting Design (Nigel Levings), and the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre for the Principal Ensemble Cast.
- 2004: Luhrmann directed a lavish multimillion-dollar commercial for Chanel N° 5 titled N° 5 the Film, inspired by his Red Curtain trilogy, starring Nicole Kidman and Rodrigo Santoro. On the Charlie Rose interview show he told Rose that he based the commercial on the 1953 film Roman Holiday.
- 2005: Luhrmann was appointed an Ambassador for the Australian Theatre for Young People.
- 2008: Luhrmann was asked by the Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd to make new advertisements to promote Australia as a tourist destination.
- 2009: At the 81st Academy Awards in February, Luhrmann put together a number dedicated to musicals which consisted of Hugh Jackman, Beyoncé, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried.
- 2009: In September, Luhrmann made an appearance as a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars.
- 2010: Luhrmann and the painter Vincent Fantauzzo embarked on an art initiative which took them to India, where they created artworks on walls of hotels, in the streets of Rajasthan and on 17th century forts.
- 2017: Luhrmann shot the campaign film The Secret Life of Flowers for the collaboration between Erdem and H&M.
- 2019: Though mostly hands-off with the stage production of Moulin Rouge! (musical), Luhrmann produced its Broadway cast recording.
Luhrmann has cast certain actors in more than one of his films:
|Strictly Ballroom||Romeo + Juliet||Moulin Rouge!||Australia||The Great Gatsby|
Luhrmann has cited Italian grand opera as a major influence on his work and has also given a nod to other theatrical styles, such as Bollywood films, as having influenced his style. Luhrmann was a ballroom dancer as a child and his mother taught ballroom dancing which was an inspiration for Strictly Ballroom. Luhrmann's favourite films are Star 80, 8½, War and Peace, Medium Cool and Fitzcarraldo.
Awards and honours
The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards are presented annually by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) to recognize and honor achievements in the film and television industry. From 1958 until 2010 they were known as the Australian Film Institute Awards or AFI Awards. Luhrmann has received four awards from nine nominations.
|1992||Strictly Ballroom||Best Director||Won|||
|1992||Strictly Ballroom||Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted||Won|||
|1997||Romeo + Juliet||Best Foreign Film||Nominated|||
|2001||Moulin Rouge!||Best Direction||Nominated|||
|2001||Moulin Rouge!||Best Film||Nominated|||
|2009||Australia||Best Original Score||Nominated|||
|2009||Australia||News Limited Readers' Choice Award||Nominated|||
|2014||The Great Gatsby||Best Direction||Won|||
|2014||The Great Gatsby||Best Film||Won|||
The Academy Awards, or "Oscars", are a set of awards given annually for excellence of cinematic achievements. The awards, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), were first held in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Luhrmann has been nominated once for Moulin Rouge!, but not for directing, prompting host Whoopi Goldberg to remark, "I guess [it] just directed itself."
|2002||Moulin Rouge!||Best Picture||Nominated|||
British Academy Film Awards
The British Academy Film Award is an annual award show presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. The awards were founded in 1947 as The British Film Academy, by David Lean, Alexander Korda, Carol Reed, Charles Laughton, Roger Manvell and others. Luhrmann has received two awards from seven nominations.
|1993||Strictly Ballroom||Best Screenplay, Adapted||Nominated|||
|1993||Strictly Ballroom||Best Film||Nominated|||
|1998||Romeo + Juliet||Best Screenplay, Adapted||Won|||
|1998||Romeo + Juliet||David Lean Award for Direction||Won|||
|2002||Moulin Rouge!||Best Screenplay||Nominated|||
|2002||Moulin Rouge!||David Lean Award for Direction||Nominated|||
|2002||Moulin Rouge!||Best Film||Nominated|||
Golden Globe Awards
The Golden Globe Award is an accolade bestowed by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) recognizing excellence in film and television, both domestic and foreign. Luhrmann has been nominated three times, winning in 2002 for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
|1994||Strictly Ballroom||Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical||Nominated|||
|2002||Moulin Rouge!||Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical||Won|||
|2002||Moulin Rouge!||Best Director, Motion Picture||Nominated|||
An award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievement in the mainly English-language music industry, held since 1959. Luhrmann has been specifically been nominated three times, with additional accolades for songs on the albums he has produced for his films, including wins for Lady Marmalade at 2002's Grammy's (Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals), as well as nominations for Young and Beautiful (Lana Del Rey song) for the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media the 2014 Grammy's.
|2002||Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film||Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media||Nominated|||
|2014||The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film||Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media||Nominated|||
|2020||Moulin Rouge! The Musical Original Broadway Cast Recording||Best Musical Theater Album||Pending|||
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Award, recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre, and has been awarded since 1947. Luhrmann has specifically been nominated twice, and his production of La Boheme also won awards for Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design at the 57th Tony Awards.
|2003||La bohème||Best Direction in a Musical||Nominated|||
|2003||La bohème||Best Revival of a Musical||Nominated|||
- AFI Awards, USA – 2002 – Nominated, AFI Film Award; AFI Movie of the Year for Moulin Rouge
- Australians in Film –
- 2013 – Won, Orry-Kelly International Award Honoree
- Berlin International Film Festival – 1997 – Won, Alfred Bauer Prize for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet; Nominated, Golden Berlin Bear for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet
- Bodil Awards – 2002 – Nominated, Bodil, Best Non-American Film (Bedste ikke amerikanske film) for Moulin Rouge!
- Bogota Film Festival – 1994 – Nominated, Golden Precolumbian Circle. Best Film for Strictly Ballroom
- Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards – 2002 – Won, Critics Choice Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!
- Cannes Film Festival –
- 2001 – Nominated, Palme d'Or for Moulin Rouge!;
- 1992 – Won, Award of the Youth, Foreign Film for Strictly Ballroom
- Chicago Film Critics Association Awards – 2002 – Nominated, CFCA Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!
- Clio Awards – 2016 – Won, Honorary Award
- César Awards, France – 2002 – Nominated, César, Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger) for Moulin Rouge!
- Drama Desk Award – 2003 – Nominated, Outstanding Revival of a Musical and Best Direction for La Boheme
- Directors Guild of America, USA – 2002 – Nominated, DGA Award, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for Moulin Rouge!
- Empire Awards, UK – 2002 – Won, Empire Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!
- European Film Awards –
- 2001 – Won, Screen International Award for Moulin Rouge!;
- 1997 – Nominated, Screen International Award for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet
- Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards –
- 2009 – Nominated, FCCA Award, Best Film for Australia;
- 2002 – Won, FCCA Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!; Nominated, FCCA Award, Best Screenplay – Original for Moulin Rouge!
- Hollywood Film Festival – 2001 – Won, Hollywood Movie of the Year for Moulin Rouge!
- Inside Film Awards – 2001 – Nominated, Best Feature Film for Moulin Rouge!; Nominated, Best Direction for Moulin Rouge!
- Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists – 2002 – Nominated, Silver Ribbon, Best Director – Foreign Film (Regista del Miglior Film Straniero) for Moulin Rouge!
- London Critics Circle Film Awards –
- 1998 – Nominated, ALFS Award, Director of the Year for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet;
- 1993 – Won, ALFS Award, Newcomer of the Year for Strictly Ballroom
- Love is Folly International Film Festival, Bulgaria – 1993 – Won, Golden Aphrodite for Strictly Ballroom
- MTV Movie & TV Awards – 1997 – Nominated, Best Movie for Romeo + Juliet
- Online Film Critics Society Awards – 2002 – Nominated, OFCS Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!
- Producers Guild of America Award – 2002 – Won, Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award for Moulin Rouge!
- Palm Springs International Film Festival – 2002 – Won, Sonny Bono Visionary Award
- Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards – 2002 – Nominated, PFCS Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!
- Robert Festival –
- 2002 – Won, Robert, Best Non-American Film (Årets ikke-amerikanske film) for Moulin Rouge!
- 1993 – Won, Robert, Best Foreign Film (Årets udenlandske spillefilm) for Strictly Ballroom
- Satellite Awards –
- 2008 – Won, Auteur Award, Nominated, Satellite Award, Best Screenplay, Original for Australia; Nominated, Satellite Award, Best Original Song for Australia for the song "By the Boab Tree";
- 2002 – Won, Golden Satellite Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!. Nominated, Golden Satellite Award, Best Screenplay, Original for Moulin Rouge!
- Teen Choice Awards –
- 2002 – Nominated, Film – Choice Movie, Drama/Action/Adventure for Moulin Rouge!
- 2009 – Nominated, Film – Choice Movie, Romance for Australia (2008 film)
- Toronto International Film Festival – 1992 – Won, People's Choice Award for Strictly Ballroom
- Vancouver Film Critics Circle – 2002 – Won, VFCC Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!
- Vancouver International Film Festival – 1992 – Won, Most Popular Film for Strictly Ballroom
- World Soundtrack Awards – 2001 – Won, World Soundtrack Award, Most Creative Use of Existing Material on a Soundtrack for Moulin Rouge!
- Writers Guild of America Award, USA – 2002 – Nominated, WGA Award (Screen), Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for Moulin Rouge!
In September 2009, Luhrmann made an appearance as a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars. Luhrmann participated on the NPR radio quiz program Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! in 2013.
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- Awards for The Great Gatsby on IMDb
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