Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann

Birth name: Mark Anthony Luhrmann
Born: September 17, 1962
Age: 61
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia[1]
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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[2] 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.[3][4]

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 limited series 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.[5] 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,[6] 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.[7] More recently he and wife Catherine Martin have adapted their distinctive style for projects in events, retail, architecture and design with Barneys New York[8] and developer and hotelier Alan Faena.[9][10]

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.[11][12][13] 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.[14]

Luhrmann received the nickname "Baz" from his father Leonard, given to him because of his afro hair style, the name coming from the English Basil Brush.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]



Luhrmann in 2018

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 the soundtrack albums for the film.

Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! (2001) was named one of the AFI's top ten films of 2001[20] and in 2010 was chosen as the top film of the 2000s decade in a poll of 150,000 respondents in the United Kingdom.[21] The film also gave birth to a successful soundtrack album, selling more than seven million copies, led by the Grammy-winning number one hit single "Lady Marmalade".[22]

Luhrmann's 2008 romantic epic Australia starred Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. 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.[23] It is the second-highest grossing Australian film of all time, next to Crocodile Dundee and ahead of Happy Feet.[24]

In 2013, Luhrmann adapted F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, shot in 3D,[25] starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, and Australian newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker.


Luhrmann at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

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.[26]

Acting and director credits

Director credits

Film Year Awards
Strictly Ballroom 1992 AFI Award for Best Director
AFI Award for Best Screenplay
ALFS Award for Newcomer of the Year
Nominated—BAFTA Film Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated—20/20 Award for Best Original Screenplay
Romeo + Juliet 1996 BAFTA Award for Best Direction
BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated—Golden Bear Award for Best Picture
Moulin Rouge! 2001 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
National Board of Review Award for Best Film
Producers Guild of America Award for Best Picture
Satellite Award for Best Director
Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Film
Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Film
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated—Golden Globe for Best Director
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Film
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Original Screenplay
Australia 2008 Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Original Screenplay
Nominated—AFI Members' Choice Award
The Great Gatsby 2013 AACTA Award for Best Film
AACTA Award for Best Direction
AACTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated—AACTA International Award for Best Direction
Nominated—Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media
Nominated—Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Director


Film Year Notes
The Get Down 2016-2017 Streaming on Netflix

Screen actor

Film Year Character Notes
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.

Stage actor

Name Year Character Notes
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.

Other work

  • 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.[27] Moreover, Luhrmann created his own company with his wife Catherine Martin: Bazmark (fr).
  • 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.[28]
  • 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.[29]
  • 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.[30]
  • 2017: Luhrmann shot the campaign film The Secret Life of Flowers for the collaboration between Erdem and H&M.[31]


Luhrmann has cast certain actors in more than one of his films:

Strictly Ballroom Romeo + Juliet Moulin Rouge! Australia The Great Gatsby
Veronica Beattie
Max Cullen
Leonardo DiCaprio
Arthur Dignam
Steven Grace
Nigel Harbach
Michelle Hopper
Bill Hunter
Nicole Kidman
Jacek Koman
John Leguizamo
Tara Morice
Lara Mulcahy
Barry Otto
John Sheerin
Jack Thompson
Kerry Walker
David Wenham
Peter Whitford
Matthew Whittet


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, , War and Peace, Medium Cool and Fitzcarraldo.[32]

Awards and honours

AACTA Awards

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.

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
1992 Strictly Ballroom Best Director Won [33]
1992 Strictly Ballroom Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted Won [33]
1997 Romeo + Juliet Best Foreign Film Nominated [34]
2001 Moulin Rouge! Best Direction Nominated [35]
2001 Moulin Rouge! Best Film Nominated [35]
2009 Australia Best Original Score Nominated [36]
2009 Australia News Limited Readers' Choice Award Nominated [36]
2014 The Great Gatsby Best Direction Won [37]
2014 The Great Gatsby Best Film Won [37]

Academy Awards

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 just directed itself."[38]

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2002 Moulin Rouge! Best Picture Nominated [35]

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.

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
1993 Strictly Ballroom Best Screenplay, Adapted Nominated [33]
1993 Strictly Ballroom Best Film Nominated [33]
1998 Romeo + Juliet Best Screenplay, Adapted Won [34]
1998 Romeo + Juliet David Lean Award for Direction Won [34]
2002 Moulin Rouge! Best Screenplay Nominated [35]
2002 Moulin Rouge! David Lean Award for Direction Nominated [35]
2002 Moulin Rouge! Best Film Nominated [35]

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

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
1994 Strictly Ballroom Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical Nominated [33]
2002 Moulin Rouge! Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical Won [35]
2002 Moulin Rouge! Best Director, Motion Picture Nominated [35]

Grammy Awards

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 twice, 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.

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2002 Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Nominated [33]
2014 The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Nominated [35]

Tony Awards

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.

Year Nominee/work Award Result Ref.
2003 La bohème Best Direction in a Musical Nominated [39]
2003 La bohème Best Revival of a Musical Nominated [39]

Additional awards

  • 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[40]
  • 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[41]
  • 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[39]
  • 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!

Media appearances

In September 2009, Luhrmann made an appearance as a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars.[42] Luhrmann participated on the NPR radio quiz program Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! in 2013.[43]

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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