Phillip Noyce

Phillip Noyce (born 29 April 1950) is an Australian director, producer, and screenwriter of film and television. Since 1977, he has directed over 19 feature films in various genres, including historical drama (Newsfront, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Quiet American), thrillers (Dead Calm, Sliver, The Bone Collector), and action films (Blind Fury, The Saint, Salt). He has also directed the Jack Ryan adaptations Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994) and the 2014 adaptation of Lois Lowry's The Giver.

Phillip Noyce
Noyce at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego
Born (1950-04-29) 29 April 1950
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
Australian Film, Television and Radio School
  • Director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1969-present
Known forNewsfront
The Cowra Breakout
Dead Calm
Patriot Games
Rabbit-Proof Fence
The Quiet American
The Giver
Spouse(s)Vuyo Dyasi (2006–present)
Jan Sharp (1979–2004)
Jan Chapman (1971–1977)
AwardsAACTA Awards
Best Director, 1979
Best Screenplay, 1979
Best Film, 2003

He has worked with such actors as Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, Michael Caine, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Rutger Hauer and others. He has also directed, written, and executive-produced television programmes in both Australia and North America, including The Cowra Breakout, Vietnam, Revenge, Roots, and most-recently Netflix's What/If.

Noyce's work has won him several accolades, including AACTA Awards for Best Film, Best Director, and a special Longford Lyell lifetime achievement award.

Life and career

Noyce was born in Griffith, New South Wales, attended high school at Barker College, Sydney, and began making short films at the age of 18. A poster for a screening of “underground” films had captured his imagination and the 16 US and Australian experimental films ignited something else. Four months later he shot his first short film, the 15 minute Better to Reign in Hell financed by selling roles to his friends.

In 1969, Noyce became the manager of the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op, a collective of filmmakers. With Jan Chapman, he ran the Filmmaker's Cinema for three years atop a socialist bookshop in Sydney, screening the short films of the directors who would go on to form the Australian New Wave: Gillian Armstrong, Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, George Miller, Paul Cox. These were a generation of boomers who had grown up rarely seeing an Australian film, as British and American interests controlled distribution and exhibition Australia wide.

After graduating from Sydney University, he joined the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in 1973, and released his first professional film in 1975. Many of his films feature espionage, as Noyce grew up listening to his father's stories of serving with the Australian Commando unit Z Force during World War II.[1]

After his debut feature, the medium-length Backroads (1977), Noyce achieved huge commercial and critical success with Newsfront (1978), which won Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards for Best Film, Director, Actor, Screenplay, and opened the London Film Festival and was the first Australian film to play at the New York Film Festival.

Noyce worked on two miniseries for Australian television with fellow Australian filmmaker George Miller: The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984). Miller also produced the film that brought Noyce to the attention of Hollywood studios – Dead Calm (1988) which launched the career of Nicole Kidman.

Moving with his young family to the United States in 1991, Noyce directed five films over the following eight years, of which Clear and Present Danger, starring Harrison Ford, was the most successful, critically and commercially, grossing $216 million. After 1999's Bone Collector starring Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington, Noyce decided to return to his native Australia for Stolen Generations saga Rabbit-Proof Fence, which won the AFI Award for Best Film in 2002. He has described Rabbit-Proof Fence as "easily" his proudest moment as a director: "Showing that film to various Aboriginal communities around the country and seeing their response, because it gave validity to the experiences of the stolen generations."[2] Although independently financed, the film was a huge hit with Australian audiences and sold worldwide.

Noyce was also lauded for The Quiet American, the 2002 adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, which gave Michael Caine an Academy Award Best Actor nomination and earned best director awards from London Film Critics' Circle and National Board of Review in the US. After the Apartheid-set Catch a Fire (2006) in South Africa, Noyce decided to make another big budget studio film with 2010's Salt starring Angelina Jolie, which proved to be his biggest commercial hit to date, making nearly $300 million worldwide.[1]

In 2011, Noyce directed and executive produced the pilot for the ABC series Revenge and has since directed numerous TV pilots, including Netflix's What/If starring Renée Zellweger which was released on Netflix in May 2019.

Noyce's most recent film is Above Suspicion, starring Emilia Clarke and Jack Huston, to be released in early 2020.

Phillip Noyce's next film will be Rats of Tobruk adapted from his father's diary of the epic World War II Siege of Tobruk in Libya.

Personal life

Noyce has been married three times. He was married to film producer Jan Chapman from 1971 to 1977. From 1979 to 2004, he was married to producer Jan Sharp, with whom he has two children. He is now married to designer Vuyo Dyasi, with whom he has two children: a son, Luvuyo and a daughter, Ayanda.

Noyce was an avid supporter of the Labor government of Gough Whitlam.



Year Title Dir. Pro. Notes
1971 Good Afternoon Yes Yes Documentary film
1976 God Knows Why, But It Works Yes Yes
1977 Backroads Yes Yes
1978 Newsfront Yes Also writer

Australian Film Institute Award for Best Director
Australian Film Institute Award for Best Screenplay, Original
Best First Film Award (Taormina Film Fest)
Best Director Award (Taormina Film Fest)
Nominated- Golden Charybdis (Taormina Film Fest)

1982 Heatwave Yes Also writer

Special Mention (Mystfest)
Nominated- Best Film of Festival Award (Mystfest)

1987 Echoes of Paradise Yes
1989 Dead Calm Yes Nominated- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Director
Blind Fury Yes First American film
1992 Patriot Games Yes
1993 Sliver Yes Nominated- Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director
1994 Clear and Present Danger Yes
1997 The Saint Yes
1999 The Bone Collector Yes
2002 Rabbit-Proof Fence Yes Yes Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film
Christopher Award for Best Film
Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Director
London Film Critics' Circle Award for Director of the Year (shared with The Quiet American)
National Board of Review Award for Best Director (shared with The Quiet American)
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Special Citation (shared with The Quiet American)
Audience Award (Durban International Film Festival)
Audience Award (Edinburgh International Film Festival)
Audience Award (Leeds International Film Festival)
Audience Award for Best Foreign-Language Film (São Paulo International Film Festival)
Audience Award for Feature Film (Valladolid International Film Festival)
People's Choice Award for Beat Feature-Length Fiction FIlm (Denver Film Festival)
Nominated- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Director
Nominated- Inside Film Award for Best Director
The Quiet American Yes London Film Critics' Circle Award for Director of the Year (shared with Rabbit-Proof Fence)
National Board of Review Award for Best Director (shared with Rabbit-Proof Fence)
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Special Citation (shared with Rabbit-Proof Fence)
Nominated- Satellite Award for Best Director
Nominated- Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Film (Bangkok International Film Festival)
2004 Welcome to São Paulo Yes Yes Documentary film
Segment: "Marca Zero"
2006 Catch a Fire Yes
2010 Salt Yes
2014 The Giver Yes Truly Moving Picture Award - Feature Film (Heartland Film Festival)
2019 Show Me What You Got Exec. Post-production
2020 Above Suspicion Yes

Short films

Year Title Dir. Pro. Notes
1969 Better to Reign in Hell Yes Yes
1971 Sun Yes Yes
Memories Yes Yes
Intersection Yes Yes
Home Yes Yes
Camera Class Yes Yes
1973 That's Showbiz Yes
Castor and Pollux Yes
Caravan Park Yes Yes
1974 Renegades: Fragments from a Diary of Three Years Experience 1970-73 Yes Yes
1975 Finks Make Movies Yes Yes
1977 Disco Yes
1978 Tapak Dewata Java Yes
1979 Sue and Mario: The Italian Australians Yes
Bali: Island of the Gods Yes


Year Title Dir. Pro. Notes
1980 Fact and Fiction Yes Television film
Three Vietnamese Stories Yes
1983 The Dismissal Yes Miniseries
Also writer
Director - Episode: "Part Two"
1984 The Cowra Breakout Yes Yes Miniseries
Also writer
Director - 3 episodes
Producer - 5 episodes
1985-89 The Hitchhiker Yes Director - 5 episodes
1987 Vietnam Yes Miniseries
Also writer
1992 Nightmare Cafe Yes Director - Episode: "Pilot"
1998 The Repair Shop Yes Failed pilot
2003 Tru Calling Yes Exec. Director - Episode: "Pilot"
Executive producer - 2 episodes
2006-07 Brotherhood Yes Exec. Director - 2 episodes
Executive producer - 3 episodes
2011-12 Revenge Yes Yes Director - 2 episodes
Consulting producer - 21 episodes
Executive producer - 2 episodes
2011 Lights Out Exec. Executive producer - 3 episodes
2012 Americana Yes Exec. Failed pilot
Luck Yes Director - Episode: "Ace Meets With a Colleague"
2013 Mary and Martha Yes Television film
2014 Crisis Yes Director - Episode: "Pilot"
Executive producer - 13 episodes
2015 Warrior Yes Failed pilot
2016 Roots Yes Miniseries
Director - Episode: "Part 1"
2018 The Resident Yes Director - 2 episodes
Executive producer - 40 episodes
2019 What/If Yes Exec. Director - 2 episodes

Unmade films

  • Simmonds and Newcombe (late 1970s) – about the manhunt for Simmonds and Newcombe[3]
  • King Hit (late 1970s) – about the dismissal of the Whitlam government


  1. "Phillip Noyce: Salt – The Treatment". KCRW. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  2. "Steve Dow, Journalist". Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  3. Rod Bishop & Peter Beilby, "Ken Cameron", Cinema Papers, March–April 1979 p 257-258

Further reading

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