Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann

Born: September 17, 1962
Age: 61
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
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Mark Anthony "Baz" Luhrmann (/ˈbæz ˈlʊərmən/; born 17 September 1962) is an Australian film director, screenwriter and producer best known for The Red Curtain Trilogy, comprising his romantic comedy film Strictly Ballroom (1992), the romantic drama Romeo + Juliet (1996), and the pastiche-jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! (2001). His 2008 film Australia is an epic historical romantic drama film starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. His 2013 drama The Great Gatsby, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel of the same name, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.


Personal life

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 College, Manly, performing in the school's version of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, and Narrabeen High School, where he met future collaborator Craig Pearce.

Luhrmann received the nickname "Baz" from his father Leonard. He officially changed his given name from Mark to Baz sometime around 1979. In 1983, he commenced 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:

  • 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 successful soundtrack albums for the film, which collectively went on to sell more than eight million copies worldwide.

Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! (2001) 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. 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".

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. It is the second-highest grossing Australian film of all time, next to "Crocodile" Dundee and ahead of Happy Feet.

Luhrmann's first three films are marketed as The Red Curtain Trilogy. His latest film is an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, shot in 3D, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan and Australian newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker.


Luhrmann is currently collaborating with award-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis on a Netflix series The Get Down about the birth of hip-hop in the 1970s. The series is scheduled to air in 2016 and will star Jimmy Smits, Herizen Guardiola, Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Yahya Abdul-Mateen and Mamoudou Athie.

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

Actor (Film)

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.

Actor (Theatre)

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.
  • 1999: As a music producer, Luhrmann is credited with "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", a successful spoken word song in Europe and Americas and UK and Canada number one single.
  • 2003: 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 won 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.


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 had an impact on 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.

Awards and honours

Luhrmann received Directors Guild of America and Golden Globe nominations for Best Director - Motion Picture for his work on Moulin Rouge!, but did not receive an Oscar nomination for directing even though the film itself was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture (Academy Award host Whoopi Goldberg joked "I guess it just directed itself.").

  • AFI Awards, USA - 2002 - Nominated, AFI Film Award; AFI Movie of the Year for Moulin Rouge!
  • Academy Awards, USA - 2002 - Nominated, Oscar; Best Picture for Moulin Rouge!
  • Australian Film Institute / AACTA Awards -
    • 1992 - Won, Best Director for Strictly Ballroom, Won, Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted for Strictly Ballroom
    • 1997 - Nominated, Best Foreign Film Award for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet
    • 1999 - Won, Byron Kennedy Award
    • 2001 - Nominated, Best Direction for Moulin Rouge!. Nominated, Best Film for Moulin Rouge!
    • 2013 - Won, 3rd AACTA Awards: Best Film & Best Direction & Best Adapted Screenplay for The Great Gatsby
  • Australians in Film -
    • 2013 - Won, Orry-Kelly International Award Honoree
  • BAFTA Awards -
    • 2002 - Nominated, Best Film for Moulin Rouge!; Nominated, David Lean Award for Direction for Moulin Rouge!; Nominated, Best Screenplay, Original for Moulin Rouge!;
    • 1998 - Won, David Lean Award for Direction for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet; Won, Best Screenplay, Adapted for William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet;
    • 1993 - Nominated, Best Screenplay Adapted for Strictly Ballroom; Nominated - Best Film for Strictly Ballroom
  • 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!
  • César Awards, France - 2002 - Nominated, César, Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger) for Moulin Rouge!
  • 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!
  • Golden Globes, USA - 2002 - Nominated, Golden Globe, Best Director - Motion Picture for Moulin Rouge!
  • Hollywood Film Festival - 2001 - Won, Hollywood Movie of the Year for Moulin Rouge!
  • IF Awards - 2001 - Nominated, IF Award, Best Feature Film for Moulin Rouge!; Nominated, IF Award, 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
  • Online Film Critics Society Awards - 2002 - Nominated, OFCS Award, Best Director for Moulin Rouge!
  • PGA Awards - 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!
  • 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 Awards, 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. Luhrmann participated on the NPR radio quiz program Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! in 2013.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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