Born: Established: 1962 ;
Director, producer, writer, actor.
Raised as a child in the small rural New South Wales township of Herons Creek, Baz Luhrmann moved to Sydney at age 15 to live with his mother. His parents had separated several years previously. He completed his education at Christian Brothers College, and then applied unsuccessfully to the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). Luhrmann's passion for all things associated with cinema came about largely as a result of spending a great deal of time at his father's picture theatre in Herons Creek. He and his siblings had also grown up in a very creative family atmosphere, much of it revolving around music and dance (notably ballroom dancing). Although rejected by NIDA he continued to pursue a career as an actor and was cast in the 1981 film The Winter of Our Dreams (starring Bryan Brown and Judy Davis, qq.v.). He also appeared in television series such as A Country Practice and the docu-drama Kids from the Cross. A few years later Luhrmann again applied to be accepted into NIDA and this time succeeded.
In 1986, while a student at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Luhrmann devised the first stage version of Strictly Ballroom with other students and directed the production. Around this time he also became involved in experimental theatre, primarily through re-inventing new ways to stage classic opera. With composer Felix Meagher he created Lake Lost for the Australian Opera. The production not only earned him the Victorian Green Room Award for Best Director, but gave him the opportunity to meet his future wife and business partner, designer Catherine Martin. In 1989 Luhrmann and Martin created a large scale 1940s retro musical spectacular at the Sydney Town Hall called Dance Hall. His 1990 production of La Boheme for the Australian Opera (winner of a Mo Award for Best Operatic Performance) was followed by a Hindu version of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. After seasons in Sydney and Melbourne it played the 1994 Edinburgh Festival (winning the Critic's Prize).
Baz Luhrmann's first feature film was an adaptation of his theatrical piece, Strictly Ballroom. Released in 1992, the film won the Cannes Film Festival's Prix de Ia Jeunesse and went on to gross more than US $80 million dollars. Soon afterwards Luhrmann signed a deal with 20th Century Fox that saw him make Romeo and Juliet (1996). A modern interpretation of Shakespeare's classic love tragedy, performed with the original dialogue, and starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes, the film grossed more than US $140 million and won numerous awards (including four BAFTAs). The soundtrack achieved platinum status.
In 1997 Luhrmann and Martin worked on the concept album Something for Everybody. It subsequently went platinum in Australia. Two years later he began working on the ambitious feature film Moulin Rouge. Released in 2001, and starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge grossed over US $170 million and won three Golden Globe Awards. It was also nominated for eight Academy Awards (winning Best Costume Design for Catherine Martin). Despite its mixed critical reception, many within the international film industry acknowledged Moulin Rouge's significant impact in revitalising the musical film genre.
Luhrmann presented his theatrical version of La Boheme to Broadway audiences in 2002 (the production ran until June 2003). He later began working on pre-production for a film about Alexander the Great, but this was eventually cancelled as Oliver Stone's film Alexander was then in production. In 2006 Luhrmann began working on the epic feature Australia. Starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman the film premiered in 2008.
Luhrmann officially changed his Christian name from Mark to Bazmark sometime around 1979.
Luhrmann was nominated for the 2013 AACTA Best Direction Award, Feature Film for The Great Gatsby.