Lee Tamahori

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Lee Tamahori
Born Warren Lee Tamahori
(1950-06-17) June 17, 1950 (age 65)
Wellington, New Zealand
Occupation Film director
Years active 1978–present

Lee Tamahori (born 17 June 1950) is a New Zealand filmmaker best known for directing the 1994 film Once Were Warriors and the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day.

Upbringing and early career[edit]

Born Warren Lee Tamahori,[1] in Wellington, New Zealand, he is of Māori ancestry on his father's side and British on his mother's.

Educated at Massey High School and Tawa College,[2] he began his career as a commercial artist and photographer. He moved to the film industry in the late 1970s, initially getting in the door by working for nothing, then worked as a boom operator for Television New Zealand, and on the 1978 feature Skin Deep, Goodbye Pork Pie, and Bad Blood.

In the early 1980s Geoff Murphy employed him as an assistant director on Utu, and he subsequently worked as first assistant director on films like The Silent One, The Quiet Earth, Came a Hot Friday and Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. In 1986 Tamahori co-founded a commercial production company Flying Fish and made his name with a series of high-profile television commercials, including one awarded "Commercial of the Decade".[1]


His break as a filmmaker came with Once Were Warriors (1994), a gritty depiction of urban Māori life that was phenomenally successful in New Zealand and achieved further success worldwide. He then moved to Hollywood and directed the period thriller Mulholland Falls (1996), although this was not received well critically or commercially. This was followed by the successful wilderness film The Edge (1997) and Die Another Day (2002), the twentieth James Bond movie. He directed numerous episodes of television shows, in particular an episode of The Sopranos.

Tamahori's next film was the sequel to xXx (2002), titled XXX: State of the Union (2005) starring Ice Cube and Willem Dafoe; he replaced the original director, Rob Cohen.

His next film was Next (2007), a science fiction action film based on The Golden Man, a short story by Philip K. Dick. The film starred Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore, and Jessica Biel.

In 2010 he directed The Devil's Double starring Dominic Cooper, a dramatisation of the claims of Latif Yahia to have been Uday Hussein's body-double, released in 2011.[3][4]

Personal life[edit]

On 8 January 2006, Tamahori, dressed as a woman, was arrested in Los Angeles for allegedly offering an undercover police officer oral sex.[5] He was convicted only of criminal trespass, having pled no contest in exchange for other charges being dropped.[6]



  1. ^ a b "Meet the real Lee Tamahori – locals speak up for shamed director". Bond News. mi6-hq.com. 12 March 2006. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Dutta, Kunal (7 August 2011). "Lee Tamahori: The director who has sympathy with the devil". The Independent. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Exclusive Pic From The Devil's Double". Empireonline. Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Devil's Double". IMDb. Amazon. 7 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Munn, Eric (5 February 2006). "Tamahori's double life". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 13 December 2007. 
  6. ^ "007 director makes sex case deal". BBC. UK. 24 February 2006. Retrieved 13 December 2007. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Michael Apted
Official James Bond Film Director
Succeeded by
Martin Campbell