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Peter Weir
Personal Info - Awards - Film Credits - Biography

Personal Info
Born: 21 August 1944, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Birth Name: Peter Lindsay Weir

• n/a

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• Creative Artists Agency

Academy Awards, USA
• Nominated, Oscar
Best Picture for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
Shared With: Samuel Goldwyn Jr., Duncan Henderson
• Nominated, Oscar
Best Director for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)
• Nominated, Oscar
Best Director for The Truman Show (1998)
• Nominated, Oscar
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for Green Card (1990)
• Nominated, Oscar
Best Director for Dead Poets Society (1989)
• Nominated, Oscar
Best Director for Witness (1985)

Another 25 wins & 31 nominations

Film Credits
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - Director, Writer (screenplay), Producer 2003
Deadly Little Secrets - Second Assistant Director (second unit) 2001
The Truman Show - Director 1998
Day of the Dog - Thanks 1993
Fearless - Director 1993
Green Card - Director, Writer (written by), Producer 1990
Dead Poets Society - Director 1989
The Mosquito Coast - Director 1986
Witness - Director 1985
The Year of Living Dangerously - Director, Writer 1982
Gallipoli - Director, Writer (story) 1981
Black Rain - Director, Writer (screenplay) 1977
Picnic at Hanging Rock - Director 1975
Cars That Eat People - Director, Writer (story) 1974
Homesdale - Director, Writer, Robert 2 1971
Three to Go - Director (segment "Michael"), Writer (segment "Michael") 1971

Early life and career

After leaving university in the mid-1960s he joined Sydney television station ATN-7, where he worked as a production assistant on the groundbreaking satirical comedy program The Mavis Bramston Show. During this period, using station facilities, he made his first two experimental short films, Count Vim's Last Exercise and The Life and Flight of Reverend Buckshotte.

Weir then took up a position with the Commonwealth Film Unit (later renamed Film Australia), for whom he made several documentaries, including a short documentary about young people living in the underprivileged outer suburbs of Sydney, and the short rock music film Three Directions In Australian Pop (1970), which featured rare in-concert color footage of three major Australian rock acts of the period, Spectrum, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band and Wendy Saddington. He also directed one section of the three-part, three-director feature film Three To Go (1970), which won an AFI award.

After leaving the CFU, Weir made his first major independent film, the short feature Homesdale (1971), a black comedy which co-starred actress Kate Fitzpatrick and musician and comedian Grahame Bond, who later became famous as the star of The Aunty Jack Show; Weir also played a small role, but this was to be his last significant screen appearance. Homesdale and Weir's two aforementioned CFU shorts have recently been released on DVD.

Weir's first full-length feature film was the underground cult classic, The Cars That Ate Paris (1974). This paved the way for considerable success in Australia and internationally with the atmospheric Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), based on the novel by Joan Lindsay. Widely credited as a pivotal work in the so-called Australian film renaissance of the mid-1970s, the film also helped launched the career of internationally renowned Australian cinematographer Russell Boyd. It was widely acclaimed by critics, many of whom praised it as a welcome antidote to the so-called "shocker film" genre, typified by The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Alvin Purple.

His next feature, The Last Wave, which starred American actor Richard Chamberlain, was a pensive, ambivalent film which expanded on the themes of Picnic, exploring the interaction between the native Aboriginal culture and the European. It was only moderately successful at the time, but Weir scored a major hit with his next film Gallipoli (1981), scripted by renowned Australian playwright David Williamson. It is regarded as classic Australian cinema. Gallipoli was instrumental in making Mel Gibson into a major international film star, but Gibson's co-star Mark Lee, who also received high praise for his role, has made only a handful of film appearances since. The cumulative high point of Peter Weir's early career was the international production The Year of Living Dangerously which united Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver in a story about loyalty, idealism, love and ambition intertwined with political and humanitarian themes in the Indonesia of 1965. The film won Linda Hunt an Oscar for best supporting actress.

Filmmaking in the United States

Weir's first American film was the highly successful thriller Witness (1985), which was set in an Amish community. It was followed by the darker and less accessible The Mosquito Coast (1986). Both films starred Harrison Ford and provided him with opportunities to avoid being typecast by his previous roles in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, and to play more subtle and substantial roles.

Weir's next two films, Dead Poets Society (1989), starring Robin Williams, and Green Card (1990), starring Gérard Depardieu, were major box-office hits, and they brought Weir significant critical and commercial success; the latter remains a favorite with many comedy lovers. His next film, Fearless, starred Jeff Bridges as a man who believes he has become invincible after surviving a catastrophic air crash. Though well reviewed and featuring a sterling performance by Bridges, its unsettling subject matter and darker tone was less appealing to audiences than his two preceding films.

But Weir bounced back in 1998 with the hugely successful The Truman Show, a wry satire on the nascent reality TV trend. It was a box-office smash and won numerous awards and earned three Oscars nominations -- Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Ed Harris), and Best Director for Weir himself. It also gave its star, comedian Jim Carrey, the chance to prove himself in a serious acting role and he received glowing reviews for his performance. The Truman Show also includes a small reference back to the very beginning of Weir's directorial career -- Australian actor Terry Camilleri, who starred in Weir's first feature, The Cars That Ate Paris, appears in a cameo role.

In 2003 Weir directed the blockbuster movie, Master and Commander, starring Russell Crowe; it was successful with mainstream audiences despite its slow pace and focus on period detail and characterization, qualities that are characteristic of Weir's work.

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