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Julie Taymor

Photographer: Brigitte Lacombe

Julie Taymor film director
Julie Taymor Titus

Photographer: Elisabetta Catalano

Julie Taymor director The Tempest
Julie Taymor director of The Lion King on Broadway

Photographer: Frank Veronsky

Julie Taymor and Anthony Hopkins Titus
Julie Taymor sculpting

Photographer: Kenneth Van Sickle

Julie Taymor and Helen Mirren The Tempest movie
Julie Taymor, Anthony Hopkins, Alan Cumming
Julie Taymor

Photographer: Annie Leibovitz

Julie Taymor director
Julie Taymor director
Julie Taymor Indonesia

Taymor in Sri Lanka at age fifteen, looking out at the Indian Ocean

Julie Taymor

Julie Taymor is an Academy Award nominated and Emmy and Tony Award winning director whose productions range from musicals and Shakespeare plays to classical operas and films. Taymor has been hailed as one of the most imaginative and provocative directors and designers working in the arts today.


Most recently, Taymor served as Jury President for the 2022 Tokyo International Film Festival. She also co-wrote and directed the feature film, THE GLORIAS (2020) based on Gloria Steinem’s book "My Life On The Road," starring Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, and Janelle Monáe. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released by Roadside Attractions and Amazon Prime.

In 2013, Taymor directed the inaugural stage production of Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM for Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Theatre for a New Audience's first permanent home. The production featured Kathryn Hunter as Puck and David Harewood as Oberon. The cinematic version of the critically acclaimed production premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2014.

Taymor’s film version of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST premiered at the 2010 Venice Film Festival, as the festival's closing night film and as the Center Piece of the New York Film Festival. It starred Helen Mirren, and included Alfred Molina, Djimon Hounsou, Ben Whishaw, Felicity Jones, and Alan Cumming. Working behind the camera with Taymor on THE TEMPEST were Academy Award winners, composer Elliot Goldenthal, costume designer Sandy Powell, and the editor Francoise Bonnot. Taymor also produced the feature and adapted the screenplay.

Taymor directed and co-wrote the story for the 2007 film, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, which received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Musical/Comedy as well as an Academy Award for Costume Design. Featuring 35 Beatles songs, the film stars Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturgess, with performances by Bono, Joe Cocker, Eddie Izzard and Salma Hayek.

Taymor also received critical acclaim for her direction of Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina in FRIDA (2002,) the true story of the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. It garnered six Academy Award nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Hayek, and won two Academy Awards. FRIDA was also honored with four BAFTA nominations and one win, including nominations for Hayek and Molina, as well as two Golden Globe nominations, winning the Golden Globe for Best Original Score by Elliot Goldenthal. In addition, the film received two Screen Actors Guild nominations. FRIDA premiered as the opening night film at the Venice Film Festival where it won the Mimmo Rotella Foundation Award.

Taymor made her feature film directorial debut in 1999 with TITUS. The film adaptation of Shakespeare’s play TITUS ANDRONICUS starred Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange. Taymor adapted the screenplay and also produced the film. Taymor’s first film, FOOL'S FIRE, which she directed and adapted from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, HOP-FROG was produced by American Playhouse. The hour-long film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS in March 1992. The film won the Best Drama award at the Tokyo International Electronic Cinema Festival.


Taymor is most widely recognized for her production of THE LION KING, which opened on Broadway in 1997. Taymor’s production continues to play nightly and its worldwide gross exceeds that of any entertainment title in box office history. THE LION KING has been presented in over 100 cities in 20 countries on every continent except Antarctica. THE LION KING has been seen by more than 110 million people worldwide and has won critical acclaim, with The London Evening Standard exclaiming, “A beautiful dazzle of invention and imagination, the true star of THE LION KING, director Julie Taymor, has dreamed up a way of bringing an entire African jungle and its menagerie of animals thrillingly to the stage: eastern and western styles meet and merge.”

Taymor has the distinction of being the first woman to receive the Tony Award for "Best Direction of a Musical," which she won for THE LION KING. She also received a Tony Award for her original costume designs for the production. Taymor co-designed the masks and puppets, and wrote additional lyrics for the show. In 2007, THE LION KING was performed in Johannesburg, and had its first French language production in Paris. In 2008, LE ROI LION was awarded Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, and Best Musical at the Molière Awards, the national theatre awards of France.

Other theater credits include the Broadway metamorphosis of M BUTTERFLY by David Henry Hwang in 2017 starring Clive Owen and Jin Ha, and the play GROUNDED off-Broadway at the Public Theater starring Anne Hathaway in 2015. In 2013, Taymor directed the inaugural stage production of Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM for Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Theatre for a New Audience. 

Taymor directed, co-wrote the book, and designed the masks for the rock musical SPIDER MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK with music and lyrics by U2’s Bono and The Edge, based on the Spider-Man comics created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Her original music-theater work, JUAN DARIÉN: A CARNIVAL MASS, presented at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater in 1996, received five Tony Award nominations including Best Director and two Obie Awards. Originally produced by Music-Theatre Group in 1988, JUAN DARIÉN: A CARNIVAL MASS was directed by Taymor, and co-written with composer Elliot Goldenthal. The recipient of two Obies and numerous other awards, the piece was also performed at The Edinburgh International Festival, as well as festivals in France, Jerusalem and Montreal, and also had an extended run in San Francisco. It is currently being transformed into a feature film, titled JAGUAR.

In 2000, Taymor directed Carlo Gozzi’s THE GREEN BIRD on Broadway which was first produced in 1996 by Theatre for a New Audience at The New Victory Theater and presented at the La Jolla Playhouse. Taymor's stage production of Shakespeare's TITUS ANDRONICUS was produced off-Broadway by Theatre for a New Audience in 1994. Other directing credits include THE TEMPEST, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, THE TRANSPOSED HEADS, based on the novella by Thomas Mann, co-produced by the American Musical Theater Festival and The Lincoln Center; and LIBERTY'S TAKEN, an original musical co-created with David Suehsdorf and Elliot Goldenthal.


Taymor premiered the original opera, GRENDEL, in 2006. A darkly comic retelling of the "Beowulf" tale based on the novel by John Gardner, the opera was composed by Elliot Goldenthal with a libretto by Taymor and J.D. McClatchy and co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera and the Lincoln Center Festival. The opera was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2007.

Previously, Taymor directed Wagner’s THE FLYING DUTCHMAN for the Los Angeles Opera in a co-production with the Houston Grand Opera. She also directed Strauss’ SALOMÉ for the Kirov Opera in Russia, Germany, and Israel under the baton of Valery Gergiev. Taymor’s first direction of THE MAGIC FLUTE (DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE), was for the Maggio Musicale in Florence, with Zubin Mehta conducting in 1993. Over a decade later, Taymor premiered THE MAGIC FLUTE at the Metropolitan Opera in 2004 which continues in repertory to this day. A translated and abridged English version of the opera premiered at the MET in December 2006, and launched the MET's Live in HD series of movie-theater transmissions.

Taymor’s first opera direction was of Stravinsky’s OEDIPUS REX for the Saito Kinen Orchestra in Japan, under the baton of Seiji Ozawa in 1992. The opera featured Philip Langridge as Oedipus and Jessye Norman as Jocasta. Taymor went on to direct the film adaptation of the opera OEDIPUS REX, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Jury Award at the Montreal Festival of Film on Art. Broadcast internationally in 1993, the film garnered an Emmy Award and the 1994 International Classical Music Award for Best Opera Production.


In addition to her two Tony Awards, Taymor has also received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two OBIE Awards, the first Annual Dorothy B. Chandler Award in Theater, the Brandeis Creative Arts Award, the 2015 Shakespeare Theatre Company’s William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, a 2017 Disney Legends Award, and induction into the Theater Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement in the American Theater.

A major retrospective of 25 years of Taymor's work opened in the fall of 1999 at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio and toured the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington D.C.) and the Field Museum (Chicago), and was extended due to popular demand in each venue. In September of 2009, costumes from THE LION KING became part of the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

An illustrated book on her career, JULIE TAYMOR: PLAYING WITH FIRE is in its third edition by Harry N. Abrams. Her book, THE LION KING: PRIDE ROCK ON BROADWAY is published by Hyperion. Taymor’s adapted screenplay for TITUS and book, FRIDA: BRINGING FRIDA KAHLO'S LIFE AND ART TO FILM, are available from Newmarket Press. Harry N. Abrams also published an illustrated screenplay of Taymor’s film adaptation of THE TEMPEST.

In 2016, Taymor created the Taymor World Theater Fellowship to provide opportunities for enterprising young theater directors to immerse themselves in artistic experiences beyond their borders; thereby expanding their creative horizons to increase their creative capacity and return to enliven the American theater with new productions fueled by their expanded perspective of world theater.

Taymor’s interest in theatre took root early in her life where, by the age of nine, she became involved with the Boston Children’s Theatre. In high school, she started as a world traveler which included trips to both Sri Lanka and India with the Experiment in International Living. Taymor also went to Paris to study at the École Internationale de Thé​âtre Jacques Lecoq, to study mime under the legendary artist. In 1974 Taymor received a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to travel to Eastern Europe, Japan, and Indonesia where she developed a mask/dance company, Teatr Loh, consisting of Javanese, Balinese, Sundanese, French, German and American actors, musicians, dancers and puppeteers. Over the four years she lived in Indonesia, the company she created toured throughout the country with two original productions, WAY OF SNOW and TIRAI which were subsequently performed in the United States.

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