George Miller (filmmaker)

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George Miller
Miller in 2017
Born (1945-03-03) 3 March 1945 (age 79)
EducationSydney Boys High School, Ipswich Grammar School
Alma materUniversity of New South Wales
Occupations
  • Director
  • producer
  • writer
Spouses
(m. 1985; div. 1992)
(m. 1995)
Children3
RelativesBill Miller (brother)
AwardsFull list

George Miller AO (born 3 March 1945) is an Australian filmmaker. Over the course of four decades he has received critical and popular success creating the Mad Max franchise starting in 1979 with two of the films having been hailed as two of the greatest action films of all time.[1] He has also earned numerous accolades including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and a Golden Globe Award.

Miller rose to prominence directing the dystopian action-adventure films Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). He then directed the dark fantasy comedy The Witches of Eastwick (1987), and the biographical medical drama Lorenzo's Oil (1992), which he also co-wrote earning a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. He produced and co-wrote the family-friendly film Babe (1995) earning a Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay nomination and later directed the sequel Babe: Pig in the City (1998).

He won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature for Happy Feet (2006) and directed its sequel Happy Feet Two (2011). He returned to Mad Max directing the critically acclaimed sequel Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), which went on to win six Academy Awards with Miller receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Director. He then directed the prequel film Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024).

Trained in medicine at the University of New South Wales, Miller worked as a physician for several years before entering the film industry full-time. He is a co-founder of the production houses Kennedy Miller Mitchell, formerly known as Kennedy Miller, and Dr. D Studios. Since the death of his producing partner Byron Kennedy, his younger brother Bill Miller and Doug Mitchell have produced his later films.

Early life and education[edit]

Miller was born on 3 March 1945[2] in Chinchilla, Queensland, to Greek immigrant parents: Jim Miller and mother Angela. Jim (aka Dimitrios) was born on the Greek island of Kythira (at Mitata), Jim's father anglicised his surname from Miliotis to Miller when he emigrated to Australia in 1920; Angela's family were Greek refugees from Anatolia, displaced by the 1923 population exchange.[3]

Miller attended Ipswich Grammar School and later Sydney Boys High School,[3] then studied medicine at the University of New South Wales with his twin brother John. While in his final year at medical school (1971), George and his younger brother Chris made St. Vincent's Revue Film, a one-minute short film that won them first prize in a student competition.[4]

In 1971, George attended a film workshop at Melbourne University where he met fellow student Byron Kennedy, with whom he formed a lasting friendship and production partnership, until Kennedy's death. In 1972, Miller completed his residency at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, spending his time off crewing on short experimental films. That same year, Miller and Kennedy founded Kennedy Miller Productions.[5] The pair subsequently collaborated on numerous works. After Kennedy died in 1983, Miller kept his name in the company. It was later renamed Kennedy Miller Mitchell in 2009 as a way to recognise producer Doug Mitchell's role in the company.[6]

Career[edit]

1971–1985: Early work and Mad Max trilogy[edit]

Miller's first work, the short film Violence in Cinema: Part 1 (1971), polarised critics, audiences and distributors so much that it was placed in the documentary category at the 1972 Sydney Film Festival due to its matter-of-fact depiction of cinematic violence.[7] In 1979, Miller made his feature-length directorial debut with Mad Max. Based on a script written by Miller and James McCausland in 1975, the film was independently financed by Kennedy Miller Productions and went on to become an international success.[5] As a result, the film spawned the Mad Max series with two further sequels starring Mel Gibson: Mad Max 2 also released as The Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985).

During the time between the second and third Mad Max films, Miller directed a remake of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" as a segment for the anthology film Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).[8] He also co-produced and co-directed many acclaimed miniseries for Australian television including The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984).

1987–1995: Established director[edit]

In 1987, Miller directed The Witches of Eastwick, starring Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film proved to be a troubling experience for Miller. "I quit the film twice and Jack [Nicholson] held me in there," said Miller. "He said, 'Just sit down, lose your emotion, and have a look at the work. If you think the work is good, stick with the film.' And he was a great man. I learnt more from him than anybody else I’ve worked with - he was extraordinary."[9] Nicholson also coached Miller to exaggerate his needs during the production, asking for 300 extras when he only needed 150, knowing that his producers would give him less than he requested.[10] The award-winning production designer Polly Platt also collaborated closely with Miller on The Witches of Eastwick. Cher later said that prior to working on the film, Miller called her at home, the day after her 40th birthday, to inform her that he and Nicholson didn't want her in the film. She was deemed "too old and not sexy".[11]

Following The Witches of Eastwick, Miller focused primarily on producing Australian projects.[12] His role as producer of Flirting, Dead Calm and the TV miniseries Bangkok Hilton and Vietnam, all starring Nicole Kidman, was instrumental in the development of her career. Miller returned to directing with the release of the biographical medical drama Lorenzo's Oil (1992), which he co-wrote with Nick Enright.[13] The film starred Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon. The film received critical acclaim[14] with Variety describing the film as a "true-life story brought to the screen intelligently and with passionate motivation by George Miller".[15] For his work on the film Miller was nominated for the Academy Award and Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.[16][17] The following year Miller was hired to direct the science fiction drama film Contact based on the story by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan.[18] After working on the film for over a year, Warner Bros. and Miller mutually agreed to part ways and Robert Zemeckis was eventually brought on to direct.[19]

1995–2011: Babe and Happy Feet films[edit]

In 1995 Miller produced and co-wrote the comedy-drama Babe directed by Chris Noonan. The film was a critical and financial success.[20][21] The film earned 7 Academy Award nominations including for Miller for Best Adapted Screenplay.[22] Miller went on to write and direct its sequel Babe: Pig in the City (1998).[23] Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film four stars praising Miller's work on the sequel writing, "It outdoes itself with the sets and special effects that make up "the city." And it is still literate, humane and wicked. George Miller, who produced, directed and co-wrote the film, has improved and extended the ideas in Babe: Pig in the City, instead of being content to copy them."[24] Critic Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune named it the Best film of 1998.[25]

Miller at the Australian premiere of Happy Feet in 2006

Miller was also the creator of the animated jukebox musical film Happy Feet (2006) about the life of penguins in Antarctica.[26] The Warner Bros.-produced film was released in November 2006. As well as being a runaway box office success earning $363 million worldwide, and also brought Miller his fourth Academy Award nomination, and his first win in the category of Best Animated Feature.[27] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praised the film writing, "Miller...shows a remarkable persistence of vision. Even in a story about singing-and-dancing fat and feather, Mr. Miller can’t help but go dark and deep" adding, "[He] brings an unusual depth of feeling to his work as well as a distinct moral worldview".[28]

In 2007, Miller signed on to direct a Justice League film titled Justice League: Mortal.[29] While production was initially held up due to the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike,[30] further production delays and the success of The Dark Knight led to Warner Bros. deciding to put the film on hold and pursue different options.[31] Dr. D Studios was a Sydney-based digital animation studio founded in mid-2007 as a partnership between Kennedy Miller Mitchell and Omnilab Media.[32] Following the financially unsuccessful release of Happy Feet Two (2011) and the long delay of Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), the studio closed down in 2013.[32][33] In 2011, the Happy Feet sequel Happy Feet Two was released.[34]

2015–present: Career resurgence[edit]

Miller on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road, 2012

In 2012, Miller began principal photography on Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth film in the Mad Max series, after several years of production delays.[35] Fury Road starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron was released on 15 May 2015.[36] The film was met with widespread critical acclaim with several critics calling it one of the greatest action films ever made.[37] A.O. Scott of The New York Times labeled it a "New York Times Critic's Pick" writing, "Miller has always stayed true to his scrappy, pragmatic roots. At 70, he has a master craftsman’s intuitive sense of proportion and a visual artisan’s mistrust of extraneous verbiage" adding, "It’s all great fun, and quite rousing as well — a large-scale genre movie that is at once unpretentious and unafraid to bring home a message".[38] It went on to receive 10 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, while Miller himself was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.[39]

In October 2018 it was announced that Miller would direct Three Thousand Years of Longing, which began filming in November 2020.[40] The film starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2022.[41] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian described the film as "a heartfelt Aladdin-esque adventure for grownups" adding, "Miller shows he is now doing one-for-him-and-one-that’s-even-more-for-him. It’s an Arabian Nights-type fantasia which he has clearly been gagging to make for years".[42] Justin Chang of NPR wrote that "Miller unveils an outlandish premise with a sly wit that's initially hard to resist" but added the film "ends on a muted, uncertain note".[43] The film was a box office bomb grossing $20 million worldwide off a budget of $60 million.[44][45]

In April 2017, Miller said that he and co-writer Nico Lathouris have finished two additional post-Fury Road scripts for the Mad Max series. The Fury Road lead, Tom Hardy, is committed to the next sequel.[46] In 2015, and again in early 2017, Miller said "the fifth film in the franchise will be titled Mad Max: The Wasteland."[46][47] In 2020, it was reported that Miller would next direct the Mad Max spinoff Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth.[48] The film premiered at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim.[49][50] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times gave the film a "NYT Critic's Pick" declaring, "Miller is such a wildly inventive filmmaker that it’s been easy to forget that he keeps making movies about the end of life as we know it. It’s a blast watching his characters fight over oil, water and women, yet while I’ve long thought of him as a great filmmaker it’s only with Furiosa that I now understand he’s also one kick-ass prophet of doom."[51]

Personal life[edit]

Miller was married to actress Sandy Gore from 1985 to 1992; they have a daughter. He has been married to film editor Margaret Sixel since 1995. They have two sons.[52][needs update] Sixel has worked in some capacity on many of Miller's directorial efforts.[53]

Miller is the patron of the Australian Film Institute and the Brisbane International Film Festival, and a co-patron of the Sydney Film Festival.[citation needed]

Miller has said many times that the 1940 version of Pinocchio is one of his favourite films.[54][55][56]

Miller is a feminist, having told Vanity Fair in May 2015, "I've gone from being very male dominant to being surrounded by magnificent women. I can't help but be a feminist."[57]

Filmography[edit]

Feature films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1979 Mad Max Yes Yes No
1981 Mad Max 2 Yes Yes No Also additional editor
1983 Twilight Zone: The Movie Yes No No Segment: "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"
1985 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Yes Yes Yes Co-directed with George Ogilvie
1987 The Witches of Eastwick Yes No No
1992 Lorenzo's Oil Yes Yes Yes
1995 Babe No Yes Yes
1997 40,000 Years of Dreaming Yes Yes No Documentary; also presenter
1998 Babe: Pig in the City Yes Yes Yes
2006 Happy Feet Yes Yes Yes
2011 Happy Feet Two Yes Yes Yes
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road Yes Yes Yes
2022 Three Thousand Years of Longing Yes Yes Yes
2024 Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga Yes Yes Yes

Producer

Year Title Notes
1987 The Year My Voice Broke
1989 Dead Calm Also second unit director
1991 Flirting
1996 Video Fool for Love Documentary

Other credits

Year Title Role
1978 In Search of Anna First assistant director
1980 The Chain Reaction Second unit director (uncredited) and associate producer

Short films[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Notes
1971 "St. Vincent's Revue Film" Yes Yes
"Violence in the Cinema, Part 1" Yes Yes
1974 "The Devil in Evening Dress" Yes Yes

Television[edit]

Year Title Director Writer Producer Notes
1983 The Dismissal Yes Yes Yes TV miniseries
1984 The Last Bastion Yes No No
Bodyline No Story Yes
1987 The Far Country Yes No No

Producer

Year Title Notes
1985 The Cowra Breakout TV miniseries
1987 Vietnam
1988 The Dirtwater Dynasty
The Clean Machine TV film
The Riddle of the Stinson
Fragments of War: The Story of Damien Parer
Sportz Crazy Documentary miniseries
1989 Bangkok Hilton TV miniseries

Music video[edit]

Year Title Artist
1985 "We Don't Need Another Hero" Tina Turner

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2025 Death Stranding 2: On The Beach Likeness

Awards and recognition[edit]

Year Title Academy Awards BAFTA Awards Golden Globe Awards
Nominations Wins Nominations Wins Nominations Wins
1985 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome 1
1987 The Witches of Eastwick 2 1 1
1992 Lorenzo's Oil 2 1
1998 Babe: Pig in the City 1 1
2006 Happy Feet 1 1 2 1 2 1
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road 10 6 7 4 2
Total 16 7 11 6 6 1

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shepherd, Jack (15 May 2015). "Mad Max: Fury Road: One of the greatest action films of all time? Here are the top 12 according to Metacritic". The Independent. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  2. ^ Buckmaster, Luke (2017). Miller And Max - George Miller And The Making Of A Film Legend. Hardie Grant Books. p. 3. ISBN 9781743793084.
  3. ^ a b "George Miller". Kythera-Family.net. 22 May 2004. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  4. ^ a b UNSWorld (2007) p. 15
  5. ^ a b Moran, Albert; Vieth, Errol (21 July 2009). The A to Z of Australian and New Zealand Cinema. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 174. ISBN 9780810863477. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  6. ^ "George Miller's New Script". The Australian Financial Review. 25 November 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  7. ^ Film Ink Magazine, Geoff Stanton, November 2008, page 60
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (24 June 1983). "'Twilight Zone' is Adapted to the Big Screen". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  9. ^ Denton, Andrew (20 October 2008). "Enough Rope with Andrew Denton – Episode 190: George Miller". Enough Rope. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2 April 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2015.
  10. ^ Galloway, Stephen (2 February 2016). "George Miller on 'Mad Max' Sequels, His Secret Talks With Stanley". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  11. ^ Real, Evan (20 August 2018). "Cher Recalls the Time Jack Nicholson Called Her "Too Old, Not Sexy"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 May 2022.
  12. ^ Dutka, Elaine (30 December 1992). "INTERVIEW : The Spark That Gives 'Oil' Its Heat : Movies: Director George Miller follows his passion and gambles on a long-shot--a medical mystery story". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  13. ^ Pender, Anne; Lever, Susan (30 September 2008). Nick Enright: An Actor's Playwright. Amsterdam: Rodopi. p. 23. ISBN 978-9042024601. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Lorenzo's Oil". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  15. ^ "Lorenzo's Oil". Variety. January 1992. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  16. ^ "The 65th Academy Awards". Oscars.org. 4 October 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  17. ^ "Awards Winners". wga.org. Writers Guild of America. Archived from the original on 5 December 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  18. ^ Head, Tom (5 January 2006). Conversations with Carl Sagan. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. p. 89.
  19. ^ Chitwood, Adam (8 May 2015). "George Miller Talks His Version of CONTACT; Likens It to INTERSTELLAR". Collider. Complex. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  20. ^ "Babe". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  21. ^ "Babe (1995)". Boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  22. ^ "The 68th Academy Awards | 1996". Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 5 October 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  23. ^ Cox, Dan (12 November 1997). "U turns production corne". Variety. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
  24. ^ "Babe: Pig in the City". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  25. ^ "Big-screen 'Babe'". Chicago Tribune. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2024.
  26. ^ "The penguin suite". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 December 2006. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  27. ^ ""Happy Feet" wins Oscar for best animated feature". Reuters. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  28. ^ Dargis, Manohla (17 November 2006). "Bring in Da Hoofers on Ice". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  29. ^ Garrett, Diane (20 September 2007). "George Miller to lead 'Justice League'". Variety. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  30. ^ Michaela, Boland (17 January 2008). "Australia denies killing 'Justice League'". Variety. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  31. ^ Graser, Marc (15 August 2008). "WB taps into ties at DC Comics". Variety. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  32. ^ a b Quinn, Karl (31 May 2013). "Happy feet no longer tapping as animation studio sells up". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  33. ^ Swift, Brendan (24 November 2011). "Dr D Studios future clouded after staff departures, restructure". If Magazine. The Intermedia Group. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  34. ^ Vlessing, Etan (14 November 2011). "'Happy Feet Two' to Dance Onto 377 Imax Screens". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  35. ^ Moore, Ben (22 May 2012). "Tom Hardy Uncertain About 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Start Date [UPDATED]". Screen Rant. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  36. ^ "'Mad Max: Fury Road' Set For Summer 2015". Deadline Hollywood. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  37. ^ Multiple sources; see, for example:
  38. ^ Scott, A. O. (14 May 2015). "Review: 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' Still Angry After All These Years". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  39. ^ Donnelly, Jim (22 January 2016). "Oscar Nominations 2016: View The Complete List Of Nominees". The Oscars. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  40. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (25 October 2018). "AFM Hot Pic: George Miller To Direct Movie Epic 'Three Thousand Years of Longing', FilmNation To Launch Sales". Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  41. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (16 March 2022). "George Miller's 'Three Thousand Years of Longing' With Tilda Swinton, Idris Elba Set for Cannes (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  42. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (September 2022). "Three Thousand Years of Longing review – heartfelt Aladdinesque adventure for grownups". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  43. ^ "'Three Thousand Years of Longing' will leave you charmed — and a little worn out". NPR. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  44. ^ "Why George Miller's 'Three Thousand Years of Longing' Tanked at the Box Office". TheWrap. 30 August 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  45. ^ "Three Thousand Years of Longing". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  46. ^ a b Cooper, G. (26 April 2017). "Mad Max: Fury Road' has 2 finished sequel scripts already". Cnet reviews. Retrieved 8 May 2017. There are no dates yet, but director George Miller is ready to head out to "The Wasteland" to revisit the 2015 blockbuster hit.
  47. ^ McNary, Dave (18 May 2015). "George Miller Promises 'More Max,' Starting With 'Mad Max: The Wasteland'". Variety magazine. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
  48. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (13 October 2020). "'Mad Max' Spinoff 'Furiosa' In The Works at Warners With George Miller Directing & Anya Taylor-Joy in Title Role; Chris Hemsworth & Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Along For Ride". Deadline. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  49. ^ "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga makes Cannes debut with rave reviews". Yahoo News. 16 May 2024. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  50. ^ "Cannes: 'Furiosa' World Premiere Greeted With 7-Minute Standing Ovation". The Hollywood Reporter. 15 May 2024. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  51. ^ Dargis, Manohla (15 May 2024). "'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga' Review: A Lonely Avenger". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2024.
  52. ^ Turner, Brook (May 2007). "Curious George". The Australian Financial Review: 26–38. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  53. ^ "Feet With Legs". Urban Cinefile. 26 December 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  54. ^ Brand, Madeleine; Pesca, Mike (8 December 2006). "Do Kids' Movies Need More Quality Control?". NPR. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  55. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (16 November 2011). "George Miller Says He Approached 'Happy Feet 2' With The Same Respect As Classic Fairy Tales". Indiewire. Archived from the original on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2022.
  56. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (19 November 2011). "Happy Feet Two Director George Miller Talks About Getting The Cast Together". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  57. ^ Rich, Katey (14 May 2015). "Mad Max: Fury Road Director George Miller: "I Can't Help but Be a Feminist"". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  58. ^ "It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours".
  59. ^ Gadd, Michael (17 April 2007). "George Miller gets Masters". Australian Associated Press. Archived from the original on 10 May 2007.
  60. ^ Braithwaite, Alyssa. "Director George Miller to be awarded Ordre des Arts et des Lettres at Sydney's French Film Festival". The Daily Telegraph.
  61. ^ "Miller receives VES award – Inside Film: Film and Television Industry News and Issues for Australian Content Creators". If.com.au. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  62. ^ "Hall of Fame". Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame. State Library of Queensland. Archived from the original on 23 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.

External links[edit]