Baz Luhrmann

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

(1962-09-17) 17 September 1962 (age 59)
Alma materNarrabeen 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 tragedies 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[edit]

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

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]


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[edit]

Director credits[edit]

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
Elvis 2022


Series Year Notes
The Get Down 2016–2017 Streaming on Netflix

Screen actor[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]


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[edit]

Media appearances[edit]


  1. ^ "Baz Luhrmann biodata". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 14 November 2009.
  2. ^ Wallace, Amy (7 February 2014). "Deep Inside Baz Luhrmann's Creative Chaos". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Top 10 grossing Australian films of all time". ABC News. 1 August 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Australia's top 10 highest grossing films of all time". The New Daily. 30 December 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Baz Luhrmann, RCA To Launch Bazmark Label". Billboard. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Most expensive advertisement (commercial) on television". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  7. ^ "Audio and Video | The Metropolitan Museum of Art". Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Baz Dazzled: The Barneys New York Holiday Window Unveiling with Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin". Vogue. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  9. ^ "What It Looks Like When Baz Luhrmann Helps Design a Miami Hotel". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  10. ^ Abel, Ann. "The Maestro of Miami Beach: Alan Faena and His New Faena Hotel". Forbes. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
  11. ^ "Baz Luhrmann profile at".
  12. ^ "Baz Luhrmann a man of many talents", The Courier-Mail, 26 November 2008[dead link]
  13. ^ "Jennifer-Harrison-Chisholm - User Trees".
  14. ^ Ryan, Tom (5 November 2014). Baz Luhrmann: Interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 9781626743007.
  15. ^ "Baz Luhrmann: 'I've never waited for permission to do anything' " by Ryan Gilbey, The Guardian, 24 April 2018
  16. ^ "Baz Luhrmann (12 works by)". AustLit. 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  17. ^ Kids of the Cross at IMDb
  18. ^ "NIDA Alumni". Archived from the original on 14 October 2013.
  19. ^ Beveridge, Riley (29 January 2016). "Your AFL club's most famous supporters, from Barack Obama to Cam Newton". Fox Sports. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  20. ^ Chagollan, Steve (17 April 2013). "'Gatsby's' Great Music Collection". Variety. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  21. ^ Berk, Philip. "2002 – Musical or Comedy: Moulin Rouge!". Golden Globe Awards. HFPA. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  22. ^ "American Film Institute's Top Films of the Year". InfoPlease. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  23. ^ "Moulin Rouge! voted best film of the decade". The Daily Telegraph. London. 7 January 2010. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  24. ^ "Winners & Nominees 2002". Golden Globe Awards. HFPA. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Lady Marmalade Wins Grammy Award". BigNoiseNow. 28 February 2002. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  26. ^ Chagollan, Steve (17 April 2013). "'Gatsby's' Great Music Collection". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  27. ^ Langton, Marcia (23 November 2008). "Faraway Downs fantasy resonates close to home". The Age. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Australia". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
  29. ^ "Highest Grossing Aussie Films". World News Australia. Published by SBS. 27 February 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
  30. ^ Michael Jones (18 December 2008). "Baz Luhrmann eyes Great Gatsby". Variety. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  31. ^ Greene, Lucie. "Luxury brands and 'The Great Gatsby' movie". Financial Times. The Financial Times LTD. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  32. ^ "The Great Gatsby". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Baz Luhrmann". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  34. ^ Roeper, Richard. "The Great Gatsby". Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  35. ^ Kendall, Mary Claire. "Loving 'Gatsby' All About 'Living Fitzgerald'". Forbes. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  36. ^ "The 86th Academy Awards – 2014". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  37. ^ Young, Alex (4 April 2013). "The Great Gatsby soundtrack features new Jay-Z, The xx, Florence & the Machine". Consequence of Sound. Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  38. ^ Blistein, Jon (4 April 2013). "'Great Gatsby' Soundtrack Featured Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Beyonce". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  39. ^ Corner, Lewis (16 May 2013). "'Great Gatsby', Lady Antebellum storm US album chart". Digital Spy. National Magazine Company, Ltd. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  40. ^ "Soundtrack Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  41. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2 August 2019). "Warner Bros. Dates Baz Luhrmann 'Elvis Presley' Movie, Shifts 'Dune' & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  42. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (1 July 2019). "Top Young Talent Vying For Elvis in Baz Luhrmann Film; Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Austin Butler, Harry Styles".
  43. ^ "Harry Styles, Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller in the Running to Play Elvis in Baz Luhrmann's Biopic". The Hollywood Reporter. July 2019.
  44. ^ "Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic finds its star: Austin Butler". AV Club.
  45. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis Collaborating on Hip-Hop Television Project". Playbill, 13 December 2013
  46. ^ "Netflix's "The Get Down" Is the Rare (And Great) Music Drama That's Actually About Music". Pitchfork. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  47. ^ The Get Down, retrieved 25 February 2019
  48. ^ "The Get Down: Season One". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  49. ^ "The Get Down: Season Two". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  50. ^ "Bazmark Inc. Presents Something For Everybody (CD, Comp)". discogs.
  51. ^ Luhrmann, Baz (27 November 2008). "Charlie Rose – A conversation about the film "Australia"". The Charlie Rose Show. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
  52. ^ Scott, Malcolm (29 July 2008). "Australia Taps Luhrmann for Campaign to Boost Tourism". Bloomberg L.P.
  53. ^ Kanwardeep Singh Dhaliwal (24 March 2010). "Baz Luhrmann & Vincent Fantauzzo's mad Indian motorcycle diary". Archived from the original on 14 January 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2011.
  54. ^ ERDEM x H&M – The Secret Life of Flowers campaign film by Baz Luhrmann on YouTube
  55. ^ Schulman, Michael (26 August 2019). "Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge!" Mega Mashup". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  56. ^ "Five Favorite Films of Baz Luhrmann". Rotten Tomatoes. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
  57. ^ "Baz Luhrmann Guest Judges On Dancing". HuffPost. 28 September 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  58. ^ Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! from NPR
  59. ^ "The Sunscreen Song; The Class of '99", BBC World Service

External links[edit]