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Baz Luhrmann is a writer, filmmaker, and producer from Australia. Throughout his nearly four-decade-long career, he has worked in the cinema, television, opera, theater, music, and recording industries. He is considered a contemporary auteur because he maintains a consistent approach in all of his works. A native of Sydney, Luhrmann made his acting debut in a secondary school production of “Henry IV, Part 1” by William Shakespeare. In 1981, he made his film debut in “Winter of Our Dreams,” a romantic drama. As an actor, he is best known for his performance in the 1982 film The Highest Honor, alongside Steve Bisley and Stuart Wilson. He is also a prominent figure in the Australian theater scene, having acted in such plays as “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “Funeral Games,” and “Holiday Makers.” His Red Curtain Trilogy, consisting of the romantic comedies ‘Strictly Ballroom’ and ‘William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet’ and ‘Moulin Rouge!’, has proven to be far more successful. ‘Strictly Ballroom the Musical’ and productions of Giacomo Puccini’s ‘La bohème’ for the Australian Opera and Broadway are also ascribed to Luhrmann. Together with RCA Records, he established his own record label, House of Iona, in the late 1990s.

Youth and Early Life

Baz Luhrmann was born on September 17, 1962, in Sydney, Australia as Mark Anthony Luhrmann to Barbara Carmel (née Brennan) and Leonard Luhrmann. In the rural community of Herons Creek, his father ran a gas station and subsequently a movie theater, while his mother ran a dress shop and taught ballroom dancing.

Luhrmann spent his early years in Herons Creek, where he was raised alongside his brothers Brett and Chris. His father’s employment at the movie theater afforded him the opportunity to view quality films for free. This had a significant impact on the development of his passion for cinema.

His parents divorced when he was a child, and Luhrmann, along with his mother and siblings, returned to Sydney.
Due to his afro-style hair, his father gave him the nickname “Baz” after the renowned British fictional anthropomorphic fox, Basil Brush. During his senior year of high school, he legally changed his identity to Bazmark, combining his nickname and his given first name.

From 1975 to 1978, he attended St Joseph’s Hastings Regional School in Port Macquarie, after which he attended St Paul’s Catholic College, where he participated in a production of “Henry IV, Part 1” by William Shakespeare.
He then attended Narrabeen Sports High School, where he met his future business partner Craig Pearce. In 1980, Luhrmann graduated from secondary school.

In 1983, he enrolled in an acting course at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). His fellow classmates included Sonia Todd, Catherine McClements, and Justin Monjo. In 1985, they finally matriculated from NIDA.

Baz’s Film Industry

Baz Luhrmann began his career as an actor in the entertainment industry. In 1981, he made his film debut in the romantic drama ‘Winter of Our Dreams’. Luhrmann, who played Pete the street rat, held his own against Judy Davis and Bryan Brown, two of the biggest names in contemporary Australian cinema.

The actor then earned a small part as a film student in the 1982 suspense film “The Dark Room.” The film was directed by the son of Bill Harmon, Paul Harmon. He appeared in the 1982 war drama ‘The Highest Honor’, which was based on Operation Jaywick and Operation Rimau by Z Special Unit during World War II. Luhrmann was appointed as Able Seaman A. W. Huston in his final film as an actor, excluding occasional cameos in his own films.

The 1992 romantic comedy ‘Strictly Ballroom’ was Luhrmann’s debut as a screenwriter and director. This was the first film in his trilogy of theater-themed films entitled The Red Curtain Trilogy. The screenplay was written in collaboration with Craig Pearce and Andrew Bovell and was based on Luhrmann’s 1984 critically acclaimed play of the same name. During his tenure as a student at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney, he composed the piece.

Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, and Pat Thomson starred in the film, which featured music composed by David Hirschfelder. It was a critical and commercial smash hit. It grossed AUD 80 million on a budget of AUD 3 million. In 1993, it also won the BAFTA Film Awards for Best Costume Design, Best Original Film Score, and Best Production Design.

In 1992, Luhrmann won the AFI Award for Best Director and the AFI Award for Best Screenplay. In 1993, he won the ALFS Award for Newcomer of the Year. Hollywood contacted the producers of ‘Strictly Ballroom’ after the show’s enormous success. In 1996, he produced a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s drama, “Romeo + Juliet.” Romeo and Juliet’s leading characters are played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

It was the second installment in Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy and garnered him BAFTAs for Best Direction and Best Adapted Screenplay. In addition to its triumph at the box office, the film grossed $147.5 million. The musical drama ‘Moulin Rouge!’ (2001) was Luhrmann’s most ambitious and largest film to date. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor starred in the final installment of the director’s Red Curtain Trilogy. The film’s narrative unfolds in the musical landscape of the Montmartre district of Paris, France, in the year 1900.

The film grossed more than $179 million at the box office and garnered multiple awards, including Best Costume Design and Best Art Decoration Academy Awards. Luhrmann was nominated for the Oscar for Best Director, while Kidman was nominated for Best Actress.

‘Moulin Rouge!’ was the first musical to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture since Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (1991). According to a 2016 BBC poll, the film rated 53rd among the greatest films released since 2000. In addition, it earned Luhrmann the 2001 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

The 2008 Australian-British-American romantic historical adventure drama film ‘Australia’ was directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film, starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, is structured as a biography and is set between 1939 and 1942 against a dramatic backdrop of events in northern Australia at the time.

Following ‘Crocodile Dundee’ (1986) and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015), the film became the third highest-grossing film in the annals of Australian cinema. It won Best Art Direction and Production Design, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects at the Satellite Awards. The film was also nominated for an Oscar for “Best Costume Design.”

The 2013 romance drama ‘The Great Gatsby’ is Luhrmann’s most recent film endeavor. The film featured Leonardo DiCaprio as the title character, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan, and Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim.

Regarding the acting performances, soundtrack, visual style, and direction, the film received divided reviews and polarized opinions from critics. On the other hand, it was Luhrmann’s greatest box office success to date. With a budget of $190 million, the film grossed $353,6 million.

Baz’s Television Profession

Baz Luhrmann made his television début with the multiple-Logie-winning Australian soap opera/serial drama ‘A Country Practice’. Between 1981 and 1982, he played the role of Jerry Percival in four episodes. ‘Kids of the Cross’, a 1983 television documentary, also featured him.

In 2016, Luhrmann co-created the musical drama television series ‘The Get Down’. The six-episode first season premiered on Netflix worldwide on August 12, 2016. The program chronicled the rise of disco and R&B music in the South Bronx of New York City in the late 1970s. It received positive evaluations from the critics, and the response from the audience was also very encouraging.

The final five episodes of the series were streamed on April 7, 2017, concluding the series. The work of music producer Jamieson Shaw earned ‘The Get Down’ the Best Music Editor – Television Short Form award at the 2017 MPSE Golden Reel Awards.

Baz’s Theatre Profession

In 1982, Baz Luhrmann established his own theatre company, which he named The Bond Theatre Company, with the money he had earned from a handful of film and television roles. Here, he collaborated with future partners such as Nelly Hooper and Gabrielle Mason. Their venue was the Bondi Beach Pavillion in Sydney.

From 1982 to 1989, Luhrmann appeared in twelve plays. These included ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ (1982), ‘Holiday Makers’ (1984), ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ (1984), ‘Dreamplay’ (1985), ‘Once in a Lifetime’ (1985), ‘Crocodile Creek’ (1986), and ‘The Conquest of the South Pole’ (1989) productions.

In 1990, Luhrmann staged ‘La bohème’ by Puccini at Opera Australia in Sydney. In 2002, he brought the drama to Broadway. In 1993, he directed the Australian Opera production of Benjamin Britten’s operatic adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Baz’s Other Activities

Three years after the publication of ‘Moulin Rouge!’, in 2004, Baz Luhrmann created a 180-second short film titled ‘Chanel N°5: The Film’ for Chanel. Luhrmann and Kidman reunited for this endeavor, which was intrinsically inspired by the film. The advertisement is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest expenditure ever for an advertisement ($33 million). Gisele Bündchen starred in the 2014 sequel ‘Chanel N°5: The One That I Want’.

In 2009, Luhrmann wrote segments for the 81st Annual Academy Awards television special. Hugh Jackman, Beyoncé, Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Dominic Cooper, and Amanda Seyfried participated in a number that paid tribute to musicals.

In 2012, he released a series of fashion-related short films, marking his return to the field. They were entitled “Ugly Chic,” “Hard Chic,” “Naf Chic,” “The Classical Body,” “The Exotic Body,” “Waist Up/Waist Down,” “Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations,” and “The Surreal Body.”

The romantic short film ‘ERDEM x H&M: The Secret Life of Flowers (2017) was written and directed by Baz Luhrmann. Luhrmann released the album “Something for Everyone” through his record label, House of Iona.

Baz’s Personal Life

Baz Luhrmann met his future wife Catherine Martin during their undergraduate years. They wed on January 26, 1997, and have two children: daughter Lillian Amanda Luhrmann (10 October 2003) and son William Alexander Luhrmann (8 June 2005).

In order to have a more settled family life, the couple decided to sell their Darlinghurst, Sydney, property in July 2015 and move to New York City.

Estimated Net Worth

Australian director, screenwriter, producer, and erstwhile actor Baz Luhrmann has a net worth of $50 million. Baz Luhrmann’s first film endeavor was the 1992 film adaptation of his play “Strictly Ballroom.” Luhrmann began his career in Australia directing theatrical productions.


Luhrmann is an avid fan of the Australian Football League’s Melbourne Demons.