Sam Taylor-Johnson in March 2010
4 March 1967
Croydon, London, UK
|Occupation||Film director, artist|
Samantha "Sam" Taylor-Johnson OBE (born Samantha Taylor; 4 March 1967), known professionally as Sam Taylor-Wood, is an English filmmaker, photographer and visual artist. Her directorial feature film debut came in 2009 with Nowhere Boy, a film based on the childhood experiences of the Beatles songwriter and singer John Lennon. She is one of a group of artists known as the Young British Artists. She is married to English actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Samantha Taylor was born in Croydon, England. Her father, David, left the family when she was nine. Her mother, Geraldine, is a yoga teacher and astrologer. She has one younger sister Ashley, and a maternal half-brother, Kristian. Taylor-Wood grew up near Streatham Common in south London until her parents' divorce. The family then moved and lived in an old school house in Jarvis Brook in East Sussex, and Samantha went to Beacon Community College.
Taylor-Wood began exhibiting fine art photography in the early-1990s. One collaboration with Henry Bond, titled 26 October 1993, featured Bond and Taylor-Wood reprising the roles of Yoko Ono and John Lennon in a pastiche of the photo-portrait made—by photographer Annie Leibovitz—a few hours before Lennon was assassinated, in 1980.
In 1994, she exhibited a multi-screen video work titled Killing Time, in which four people mimed to an opera score. From that point multi-screen video works became the main focus of Taylor-Wood's work. Beginning with the video works Travesty of a Mockery and Pent-Up in 1996. One of Taylor-Wood's first United Kingdom solo shows was held at the Chisenhale Gallery, east London, in September–October 1996. Taylor-Wood was nominated for the annual Turner Prize in 1998, but lost out to the painter Chris Ofili. She won the Illy Café Prize for Most Promising Young Artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale.
In 2000, Taylor-Wood created a wraparound, photomural around scaffolding of the London department store Selfridges while it was being restored; the mural featured 21 cultural icons including Elton John, musician Alex James and actors Richard E. Grant and Ray Winstone. The poses of the figures referenced famous works of art from the past and recent movies.
In 2002, Taylor-Wood was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to make a video portrait of David Beckham—whom she depicted sleeping. She is perhaps best known for her work entitled 'Crying Men' which features many of Hollywood's glitterati crying, including Robin Williams, Sean Penn, Laurence Fishburne and Paul Newman. In 2006, Taylor-Wood had a survey exhibition at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom.
Speaking about her experience directing the film, in September 2010, Taylor-Wood said,
I thought, I'm in too deep and if I mess this up I'm just never gonna make a film again, and I went into a panic. I got into the car and said, I just have to call these producers and pull out. I got into the car and I put the key into the ignition and Lennon's voice came straight out of the radio and it was Starting Over. It was one of those moments where I thought it was a sign: OK I'm gonna do it.
The 53rd annual London Film Festival screened the film as its closing presentation on 29 October 2009. The film was released in the UK on Boxing Day, 2009. Charles Gant, writing in The Guardian—three weeks after the film's national release—said that the film had "extremely disappointing receipts". Taylor-Wood was nominated for a BAFTA award on 21 January 2010, but lost out to Duncan Jones.
Other music, film and television work
In 2006, Taylor-Wood contributed the short film Death Valley to the British version of Destricted. In 2008, Taylor-Wood directed a short film Love You More, written by Patrick Marber and produced by Anthony Minghella. The film includes two songs by the Buzzcocks and features a cameo appearance by the band's lead singer Pete Shelley. In February 2009, Taylor-Wood, collaborating with Sky Arts chose to interpret "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci. She commented: "I’m really happy to be involved in such a great project. I think by capturing one of opera's most moving moments in a film short, we have put a modern spin on the aria." In 2011, she directed the music video of "Überlin" by R.E.M.. The clip stars her fiance Aaron Johnson, who, "throws some kung-fu kicks, attempts some pirouettes, prances, punches the air, chicken walks, tries out some bunny impressions, and, at one point, fondles his bottom."
In September 2011, she collaborated with Solange Azagury-Partridge on the short film Daydream. This was aired to support the launch of Azagury-Partridge's new jewellery collection, 24:7. Under the direction of Taylor-Wood, Liberty Ross plays a beautiful woman in her bedroom, bejewelled by her lover, played by JJ Feild. The original music was composed by Oscar winner Atticus Ross, and the director of photography was BAFTA winner John Mathieson.
From a list that included Angelina Jolie, Steven Soderbergh, Joe Wright, and Gus Van Sant, Taylor-Wood was chosen to direct the film adaptation of E. L. James' best-selling erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey to be made by Universal Pictures and Focus Features.
Taylor-Wood has overcome two bouts of cancer. In December 1997, at age 30, she suffered from and was treated for late-diagnosed colon cancer. Three years later, in 2000, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She practises yoga and Transcendental Meditation, of which she says, "I wouldn’t be able to survive everything without the meditation that I do. It’s what I think has made me able to cope with the madness."
Marriages and children
Taylor-Wood married art dealer Jay Jopling in 1997. Together they have two daughters: Angelica (born June 1997) and Jessie Phoenix (born November 2005). In September 2008, Taylor-Wood and Jopling announced that they were separating amicably after 11 years of marriage.
Taylor-Wood began a relationship with Nowhere Boy star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, after meeting on the 2009 set of the film. The couple announced their engagement at the film's premiere in October 2009. They married at Babington House, Somerset on 21 June 2012 and both took the name Taylor-Johnson. The couple have two daughters together, born prior to their marriage: Wylda Rae (born 7 July 2010) and Romy Hero (born 18 January 2012).
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- The London Gazette: . 11 June 2011.
- Noah, Sherna, "Art couple Taylor-Wood and Jopling to separate after 11 years' marriage" The Independent 20 September 2008[dead link]
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- Sara Nathan (8 July 2010). "Sam Taylor-Wood and Aaron Johnson become the proud parents of baby girl Wylda". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 22 January 2012.
- Eden, Richard (7 November 2010). "Sam Taylor-Wood: I'd love another child with Aaron Johnson". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 22 January 2012.
- "Aaron Johnson, Sam Taylor-Wood Welcome Daughter Romy Hero". People. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
- "Sam Taylor-Wood's baby is another Hero | Showbiz". London Evening Standard. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
- Sam Taylor-Wood at the Internet Movie Database
- White Cube bio page
- BBC Collective Sam Taylor-Wood video interview about her show Still Lives at Baltic, plus a gallery of images
- Sam Taylor-Wood on artnet
- David Video David Beckham Sleeping Video at Liverpool Walker Gallery