Baz Luhrmann

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Baz Luhrmann
Baz Luhrmann.jpg
Luhrmann in 2013
Mark Anthony Luhrmann

(1962-09-17) 17 September 1962 (age 58)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia [1]
Alma mater Narrabeen Sports High School
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
  • actor
Years active1982–present
(m. 1997)

Bazmark "Baz" Luhrmann (born Mark Anthony Luhrmann, 17 September 1962) is an Australian director, writer, 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 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", consisting of 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. [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 the annual Met Gala as well as producing a short film for the museum, celebrating Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli. [7] More recently he and his wife Catherine Martin have adapted their style for projects in events, retail, architecture and design with Barneys New York [8] and developer and hotelier Alan Faena. [9] [10]

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. [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" at school, given to him because of his 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. [15] 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 BazLuhrmann2.png
Luhrmann in 2018

After theatrical successes, including the original stage version of Strictly Ballroom, Luhrmann moved into film and has directed five so far:

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. [20]

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. [21] The movie was named one of the AFI's top ten films of 2001 [22] and in 2010 was chosen as the top film of the 2000s decade in a poll of 150,000 respondents in the United Kingdom. [23] At the 59th Annual Golden Globes, Moulin Rouge! took home the awards for Best Motion Picture, Best Actress, and Best Original Score. [24] 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". [25] [26]

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." [27] 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. [28] It is the second-highest grossing Australian film of all time, next to Crocodile Dundee and ahead of Happy Feet . [29]

In 2013, Luhrmann adapted F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby , shot in 3D, [30] 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 jewellery based on their own archives and true to the book's own references to luxury brands. [31] The film grossed over $353 million worldwide, making it the director's highest-grossing movie to date. [32] [33] 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." [34] [35] The following year, at the 86th Academy Awards, the film won in both of its nominated categories: Best Production Design and Best Costume Design. [36] 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. [37] Featured artists included Beyoncé, Jack White, Lana Del Rey, Sia,, The xx, and Florence and the Machine; the soundtrack also included score from the film's composer and Luhrmann's repeat collaborator Craig Armstrong. [38] 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. [39] [40]

Luhrmann’s next project was directing a film about Elvis Presley's relationship with Colonel Tom Parker, simply called Elvis , currently in filming and due to be released in June 2022. [41] 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. [42] [43] [44]


Luhrmann at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Baz Luhrmann Cannes 2013.jpg
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. [45] 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. [46] 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. [47] 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%. [48] [49]

Acting and director credits

Director credits

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 2008Nominated—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
Elvis 2022


The Get Down 2016–2017Streaming on Netflix

Screen actor

A Country Practice (TV)1981–82Jerry PercivalGuest star for six episodes.
Winter of Our Dreams (film)1981PeteAlso starred Judy Davis and Bryan Brown.
The Bedroom (film)1982First studentSmall role.
The Highest Honor (film)1982Able Seaman A. W. HustonAlso starred Steve Bisley.
Kids of the Cross (TV documentary)1983HimselfFilmed in Sydney in 1981. Produced by Mike Willesee.

Stage actor

Are You Lonesome Tonight?1982UnknownPerformed at Nimrod Downstairs, Sydney. Directed by Peter Kingston.
Fanshen1983PeasantPerformed at NIDA, Sydney.
Holiday Makers 1984UnknownPerformed at NIDA. Directed by Nick Enright.
All's Well That Ends Well 1984Dumain BrotherPerformed at NIDA. Directed by Kevin Jackson.
Strictly Ballroom 1984; 1986Ross PiercePerformed at NIDA in 1984, and in Bratislava in 1986; also directed.
Dreamplay 1985UnknownPerformed at NIDA. Directed by Jim Sharman.
Funeral Games 1985UnknownPart of the Hallucinogenics? 3 plays from the 60s event. Performed at NIDA. Directed by Egil Kipste.
Chamber Music 1985UnknownPart of the Hallucinogenics? 3 plays from the 60s event. Performed at NIDA. Directed by Ros Horin.
The Greeks1985UnknownTrilogy: The War, The Murders, The Gods. Performed at NIDA, and St Martin's Youth Arts Centre, Melbourne.
Once in a Lifetime 1985UnknownPerformed at NIDA. Directed by Gale Edwards.
Crocodile Creek1986Directed for the New Moon Theatre Company in Rockhampton. Amateur musical production set in the Queensland goldfields.
The Conquest of the South Pole1989UnknownPerformed at Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney. Directed by Jim Sharman.

Other work


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 . [56]

Awards and honours

Media appearances

Related Research Articles

<i>Moulin Rouge!</i> 2001 film directed by Baz Luhrmann

Moulin Rouge! is a 2001 jukebox musical romantic drama film directed, co-produced and co-written by Baz Luhrmann. It follows a young English poet, Christian, who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge, cabaret actress and courtesan Satine. The film uses the musical setting of the Montmartre Quarter of Paris and is the final part of Luhrmann's "Red Curtain Trilogy," following Strictly Ballroom (1992) and Romeo + Juliet (1996). A co-production of Australia and the United States, it stars Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo, Jim Broadbent and Richard Roxburgh.

<i>Romeo + Juliet</i> 1996 film directed by Baz Luhrmann

William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is a 1996 American romantic crime tragedy film directed, co-produced, and co-written by Baz Luhrmann, co-produced by Gabriella Martinelli, and co-written by Craig Pearce. It is an adaptation and modernization of William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the title roles of two teenagers who fall in love, despite their being members of feuding families. Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Sorvino and Diane Venora also star in supporting roles.

<i>Strictly Ballroom</i> 1992 film directed by Baz Luhrmann

Strictly Ballroom is a 1992 Australian romantic comedy film directed and co-written by Baz Luhrmann in his feature directorial début. The film is the first in his "Red Curtain Trilogy" of theatre-motif-related films; it was followed by 1996's Romeo + Juliet and 2001's Moulin Rouge!

<i>Red Curtain Trilogy</i> Three films directed by Baz Luhrmann

The Red Curtain Trilogy is a DVD boxed set, released in 2002, of the first three films directed by Baz Luhrmann:

Craig Armstrong, is a Scottish composer of modern orchestral music, electronica and film scores. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 1981, and has since written music for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta.

"Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young", commonly known by the title "Wear Sunscreen", is an essay written as a hypothetical commencement speech by columnist Mary Schmich, originally published in June 1997 in the Chicago Tribune. The essay, giving various pieces of advice on how to live a happier life and avoid common frustrations, spread massively via viral email, is often erroneously described as a commencement speech given by author Kurt Vonnegut at MIT.

Tara Morice Australian actress

Tara Morice is an Australian actress.

Moulin Rouge, the French term for "Red Mill", is a famous Paris cabaret.

Catherine Martin (designer)

Catherine Martin is an Australian costume designer, production designer, set designer, and film producer. She won two Academy Awards for Moulin Rouge! in 2002 and another two for The Great Gatsby in 2014. Having won four Oscars, she is the most awarded Australian in Oscar history, having overtaken 1950s costume designer Orry-Kelly.

Craig Pearce

Craig Pearce is an Australian screenwriter and actor.

<i>Romeo + Juliet</i> (soundtrack) Soundtrack to the 1996 film

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music from the Motion Picture is the soundtrack to the 1996 film of the same name. The soundtrack contained two separate releases: the first containing popular music from the film and the second containing the score to the film composed by Nellee Hooper, Craig Armstrong and Marius de Vries.

Angus Strathie is an Australian costume designer.

<i>Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmanns Film</i> 2001 soundtrack album by Various artists

Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film is a soundtrack album to Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge!. It was released on 8 May 2001. The album features most of the songs featured in the film. However, some of the songs are alternate versions and there are two or three major songs that are left off. The original film versions and extra songs were featured on the second soundtrack.

<i>Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmanns Film, Vol. 2</i> 2002 soundtrack album by Various Artists

Moulin Rouge! Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film, Vol. 2 is a soundtrack album to Baz Luhrmann's 2001 film Moulin Rouge! It was released on February 26, 2002. It is the follow-up to the original soundtrack, which was released a year prior. The album features original film versions of some songs, remixes and instrumentals.

<i>Something for Everybody</i> (Baz Luhrmann album) 1998 studio album by Baz Luhrmann

Something for Everybody is an album released by Baz Luhrmann in 1998. It contains new ambient versions of music from his films and plays, including hits from William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, Strictly Ballroom and La bohème. The most popular single from the album is the spoken word song "Everybody's Free ".

<i>The Great Gatsby</i> (2013 film) 2013 film directed by Baz Luhrmann

The Great Gatsby is a 2013 romantic drama film based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel of the same name. The film was co-written and directed by Baz Luhrmann and stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the eponymous Jay Gatsby, with Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Elizabeth Debicki and Jack Thompson. Jay-Z served as executive producer. Filming took place from September to December of 2011 in Australia, with a $105 million net production budget. The film follows the life and times of millionaire Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio) and his neighbor Nick Carraway (Maguire), who recounts his encounter with Gatsby at the height of the Roaring Twenties on Long Island.

<i>The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmanns Film</i> 2013 soundtrack album by various artists

The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film is the soundtrack album to the 2013 film The Great Gatsby, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel of the same name. Interscope Records released it on May 6, 2013. The album was produced by Baz Luhrmann and Anton Monsted, with Jay-Z serving as the album's executive producer. The soundtrack comprises fourteen songs, including new material and cover versions performed by various artists. It contains a mixture of genre, including hip hop, jazz, and alternative music. Luhrmann specifically selected these styles of music to better immerse the audience into the story of The Great Gatsby.

Young and Beautiful (Lana Del Rey song) 2013 single by Lana Del Rey

"Young and Beautiful" is a song by American singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey used for the soundtrack to the drama film The Great Gatsby.

<i>Moulin Rouge!</i> (musical) 2018 musical based on the 2001 film

Moulin Rouge! The Musical is a jukebox musical with a book by John Logan. The musical is based on the 2001 film Moulin Rouge! directed by Baz Luhrmann and written by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce.


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