Peter Weir Biography

Peter Weir photo

Born: August 21, 1944

PETER WEIR

Date of Birth: August 21, 1944

An average but uninterested student, Australian Peter Weir dropped out of university and traveled to Europe. When he returned to Australia he landed a job as a stagehand and managed to work his way into writing, acting and directing. In 1971 he made his feature film directorial/writing debut with Three to Go (writing and directing the “Michael” segment) and Homesdale. He then went to London for six months on a study grant, where he wrote The Cat That Ate Paris, which would go on to become his first internationally distributed picture. His next film, Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), would not only get international distribution, but worldwide acclaim. Based on a true story, it told of private-school girls who mysteriously disappear in the Australian outback. The Last Wave (1977) starred Richard Chamberlain and was nominated for several Australian Film Institute awards. Weir was asked in 1979 to direct the ABC TV mini-series The Thorn Birds but he turned it down, saying the script was too melodramatic. Gallipoli (1981) starred the hot young Australian actor Mel Gibson, and won seven AFI awards (including Best Director for Weir and Best Actor for Gibson), as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film. Weir teamed up again with Gibson for The Year of Living Dangerously (1983), which earned 13 AFI nominations, and won an Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress (Linda Hunt, playing a man).

Weir went to the States to direct his first American film – the blockbuster Witness (1985), starring Harrison Ford. The film was nominated for numerous awards around the world, including eight Academy Awards® (among them Weir’s first Oscar® nomation as Best Director), seven BAFTA Awards and six Golden Globes. Weir re-teamed with Harrison Ford for The Mosquito Coast (1986). Dead Poets Society (1989) was a huge success at the box office and earned Weir his second Best Director Oscar® nomination. He earned his third Oscar® nomination, this time for Best Screenplay, for his next film, Green Card (1990), starring Gérard Depardieu. Fearless (1993), starring Jeff Bridges as a man whose life is changed after he survives a plane crash, was considered one of Weir’s best films by some critics, but it didn’t do very well at the box office. However, The Truman Show (1998), starring Jim Carrey, about a man who unknowingly is the star of a reality television show, made over US$125 million domestically, winning an ASCAP Film award as a Top Box Office Film. In addition, Weir received the David Lean Award for Direction at the BAFTA awards and his fourth Academy Award® nomination.

After a break, Weir returned with Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003), starring fellow Aussie Russell Crowe. Weir not only directed and produced, but wrote the screenplay based on the novels by Patrick O’Brian. The film was nominated for an astounding 10 awards at the 2004 Academy Awards, including a Best Director nod for Weir.

Weir lives in a rustic home overlooking Pitt Water Sound in Australia's Palm Beach north of Sydney and has been married to production designer Wendy Stites since 1966.

Filmography:

War Magician (2004)
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World(2003)
The Truman Show(1998)
Fearless (1993)
Green Card (1990)
Dead Poets Society(1989)
The Mosquito Coast(1986)
Witness (1985)
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Gallipoli (1981)
The Last Wave (1977)
Picnic at Hanging Rock(1975)
The Cars That Ate Paris (1974)
Homesdale (1971)
Three to Go (1971)

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