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Phillip Noyce

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Phillip Noyce
Noyce in 2010
Born (1950-04-29) April 29, 1950 (age 74)
Alma materUniversity of Sydney
Australian Film, Television and Radio School
  • Director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1969–present

Phillip Noyce AO (born April 29, 1950)[1] is an Australian film and television director. Since 1977, he has directed over 19 feature films in various genres, including historical drama (Newsfront, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Quiet American); thrillers (Dead Calm, Sliver, The Bone Collector); and action films (Blind Fury, The Saint, Salt). He has also directed the Jack Ryan adaptations Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), as well as the 2014 adaptation of Lois Lowry's The Giver.

He has worked at various times with such actors as Val Kilmer, Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington, Michael Caine, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Rutger Hauer and three films with Thora Birch over 25 years. He has also directed, written and executive-produced television programmes in both Australia and North America, including The Cowra Breakout, Vietnam, Revenge, Roots and Netflix's What/If.

Noyce's work has won him several accolades, including AACTA Awards for Best Film, Best Director and a special Longford Lyell lifetime achievement award.

Life and career[edit]

Noyce was born in Griffith, New South Wales, attended high school at Barker College in Sydney and began making short films at the age of 18. A poster for a screening of "underground" films had captured his imagination and the 16 US and Australian experimental films ignited something else. Four months later he shot his first short film, the 15 minute Better to Reign in Hell, financed by selling roles to his friends.

In 1969, Noyce became the manager of the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op, a collective of filmmakers. With Jan Chapman, he ran the Filmmaker's Cinema for three years atop a socialist bookshop in Sydney, screening the short films of the directors who would go on to form the Australian New Wave: Gillian Armstrong, Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford, George Miller and Paul Cox. These were a generation of boomers who had grown up rarely seeing an Australian film, as British and American interests controlled distribution and exhibition in Australia.

After graduating from Sydney University, he joined the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in 1973 and released his first professional film in 1975. Many of his films feature espionage, as Noyce grew up listening to his father's stories of serving with the Australian Commando unit Z Force during World War II.[2]

After his debut feature, the medium-length Backroads (1977), Noyce achieved huge commercial and critical success with Newsfront (1978), which won Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards for Best Film, Director, Actor and Screenplay; it opened the London Film Festival and was the first Australian film to play at the New York Film Festival.

Noyce worked on two miniseries for Australian television with fellow Australian filmmaker George Miller: The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984). Miller also produced the film that brought Noyce to the attention of Hollywood studios – Dead Calm (1988) which launched the career of Nicole Kidman. After Dead Calm, Noyce went to America to direct Blind Fury starring Rutger Hauer for Tri-Star Pictures.

Moving with his young family to the United States in 1991, Noyce directed five films over the following eight years, of which Clear and Present Danger, starring Harrison Ford, was the most successful, critically and commercially, grossing $216 million. After 1999's Bone Collector starring Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington, Noyce decided to return to his native Australia for Stolen Generations saga Rabbit-Proof Fence, which won the AFI Award for Best Film in 2002. He has described Rabbit-Proof Fence as "easily" his proudest moment as a director: "Showing that film to various Aboriginal communities around the country and seeing their response, because it gave validity to the experiences of the stolen generations."[3] Although independently financed, the film was a huge hit with Australian audiences and sold worldwide.

Noyce was also lauded for The Quiet American, the 2002 adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, which gave Michael Caine an Academy Award Best Actor nomination and earned best director awards from London Film Critics' Circle and National Board of Review in the US. After the Apartheid-set Catch a Fire (2006) in South Africa, Noyce decided to make another big budget studio film with 2010's Salt starring Angelina Jolie, which proved to be his biggest commercial hit to date, making nearly $300 million worldwide.[2]

In 2011, Noyce directed and executive produced the pilot for the ABC series Revenge and has since directed numerous TV pilots, including Netflix's What/If starring Renée Zellweger and the FOX Network hit The Resident. In 2017, he signed a first look deal with 20th Century Fox Television.[4]

Above Suspicion, starring Emilia Clarke and Jack Huston, originally to be released in America in 2020 by Roadside Attractions was delayed until May 2021 due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

In 2021, Noyce became executive producer on the film Show Me What You Got, written and directed by Svetlana Cvetko. "He clearly believed in our vision and ability to tell this story in the beautiful way we wanted, and just simply helped us enhance it," Cvetko says of Noyce in a 2022 FilmInk Interview.[5]

The Desperate Hour, starring Naomi Watts, was released in the US by Roadside Attractions in March 2022.

In late 2021, a 17 feature and 10 shorts retrospective of Noyce's work was presented at the Cinémathèque Française in Paris.

Noyce's next film, Fast Charlie, a darkly comedic thriller starring Pierce Brosnan, Morena Baccarin and James Caan, written by Richard Wenk was released in the US in December 2023,earning Noyce highly positive reviews.



Year Title Director Producer Writer
1977 Backroads Yes Yes Yes
1978 Newsfront Yes No Yes
1982 Heatwave Yes No Yes
1987 Echoes of Paradise Yes No No
1989 Dead Calm Yes No No
Blind Fury Yes No No
1992 Patriot Games Yes No No
1993 Sliver Yes No No
1994 Clear and Present Danger Yes No No
1997 The Saint Yes No No
1999 The Bone Collector Yes No No
2002 Rabbit-Proof Fence Yes Yes No
The Quiet American Yes No No
2006 Catch a Fire Yes No No
2010 Salt Yes No No
2014 The Giver Yes No No
2021 Above Suspicion Yes No No
2022 The Desperate Hour Yes No No
2023 Fast Charlie Yes No No

Executive producer

  • Show Me What You Got (2021)

Short films[edit]

Year Title Director Producer
1969 Better to Reign in Hell Yes Yes
1971 Sun Yes Yes
Memories Yes Yes
Intersection Yes Yes
Home Yes Yes
Camera Class Yes Yes
1973 That's Showbiz Yes No
Castor and Pollux Yes No
Caravan Park Yes Yes
1974 Renegades: Fragments from a Diary of Three Years Experience 1970-73 Yes Yes
1975 Finks Make Movies Yes Yes
1977 Disco Yes No
1978 Tapak Dewata Java Yes No
1979 Sue and Mario: The Italian Australians Yes No
Bali: Island of the Gods Yes No

Documentary films[edit]

Year Title Director Producer Notes
1971 Good Afternoon Yes Yes
1976 God Knows Why, But It Works Yes Yes
2004 Welcome to São Paulo Yes Yes Segment "Marca Zero"


TV movies

  • Fact and Fiction (1980)
  • Three Vietnamese Stories (1980)
  • Mary and Martha (2013)

TV series

Year Title Director Producer Writer Notes
1983 The Dismissal Yes No Yes Miniseries
Director - Episode: "Part Two"
1984 The Cowra Breakout Yes No Yes Miniseries
3 episodes
1985-89 The Hitchhiker Yes No No 5 episodes
1987 Vietnam No Yes Yes Miniseries
1992 Nightmare Cafe Yes No No Episode "Pilot"
1998 The Repair Shop Yes No No Unaired pilot
2003 Tru Calling Yes Executive No Director - Episode "Pilot"
Executive producer - 2 episodes
2006-07 Brotherhood Yes Executive No Director - 2 episodes
Executive producer - 3 episodes
2011-12 Revenge Yes Yes No Director - 2 episodes
Consulting producer - 21 episodes
Executive producer - 2 episodes
2011 Lights Out No Executive No 3 episodes
2012 Americana Yes Executive No Unaired pilot
Luck Yes No No Episode "Ace Meets With a Colleague"
2014 Crisis Yes No No Director - Episode: "Pilot"
Executive producer - 13 episodes
2015 Warrior Yes No No Unaired pilot
2016 Roots Yes No No Miniseries
Episode "Part 1"
2018 The Resident Yes No No Director - 2 episodes
Executive producer - 40 episodes
2019 What/If Yes Executive No Director - 2 episodes

Unmade films[edit]

  • Simmonds and Newcombe (late 1970s) – about the manhunt for Simmonds and Newcombe[6]
  • King Hit (late 1970s) – about the dismissal of the Whitlam government

Awards and nominations[edit]

In 2022, Noyce was awarded the Order of Australia by the Australian government.

Year Title Awards and nominations
1978 Newsfront Australian Film Institute Award for Best Director
Australian Film Institute Award for Best Screenplay, Original
Best First Film Award (Taormina Film Fest)
Best Director Award (Taormina Film Fest)
Nominated- Golden Charybdis (Taormina Film Fest)
1982 Heatwave Special Mention (Mystfest)
Nominated- Best Film of Festival Award (Mystfest)
1989 Dead Calm Nominated- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Director
2002 Rabbit-Proof Fence Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film
Christopher Award for Best Film
Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Director
London Film Critics' Circle Award for Director of the Year (shared with The Quiet American)
National Board of Review Award for Best Director (shared with The Quiet American)
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Special Citation (shared with The Quiet American)
Audience Award (Durban International Film Festival)
Audience Award (Edinburgh International Film Festival)
Audience Award (Leeds International Film Festival)
Audience Award for Best Foreign-Language Film (São Paulo International Film Festival)
Audience Award for Feature Film (Valladolid International Film Festival)
People's Choice Award for Beat Feature-Length Fiction Film (Denver Film Festival)
Nominated- Australian Film Institute Award for Best Director
Nominated- Inside Film Award for Best Director
The Quiet American London Film Critics' Circle Award for Director of the Year (shared with Rabbit-Proof Fence)
National Board of Review Award for Best Director (shared with Rabbit-Proof Fence)
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Special Citation (shared with Rabbit-Proof Fence)
Nominated- Satellite Award for Best Director
Nominated- Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Film (Bangkok International Film Festival)
2014 The Giver Truly Moving Picture Award - Feature Film (Heartland Film Festival)


  1. ^ Today in History: April 29, Dachau is liberated
  2. ^ a b "Phillip Noyce: Salt – The Treatment". KCRW. 21 July 2010. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Steve Dow, Journalist". Stevedow.com.au. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  4. ^ Otterson, Joe (26 October 2017). "Phillip Noyce Sets First-Look Deal With 20th Century Fox Television, Hires New VP of Production". Variety. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  5. ^ Kornits, Dov (17 May 2022). "Svetlana Cvetko Shows Us What She's Got". FilmInk. Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  6. ^ Rod Bishop & Peter Beilby, "Ken Cameron", Cinema Papers, March–April 1979 p 257-258

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]