Taylor Hackford

Active - 1978 - 2016  |   Born - Dec 31, 1944 in Santa Barbara, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American producer/director Taylor Hackford was hired by a Los Angeles TV station after his two-year hitch in the Peace Corps. On his own, he created New Visions Productions, which he eventually merged into the New Century Company before giving up producing to concentrate on directing. He won an Academy Award in 1978 for Teenage Father, a short-subject elaboration of a TV news story on which he'd previously worked. Hackford's first feature was The Idolmaker (1980), a jaundiced recreation of the "Philadelphia school" of '50s rock & roll; he later returned to the rarefied world of vintage rock in his Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba and his revelatory documentary Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (both 1987). He also directed Dolores Claiborne (1995), the Al Pacino vehicle The Devil's Advocate (1997), and edited the boxing documentary When We Were Kings (1996). Though Hackford has toted up some impressive credits over his career, few of his films have matched the audience appeal or box-office bankability of his biggest hit, 1982's An Officer and a Gentleman. Hackford married British actress Helen Mirren in 1997, whom he had lived with since 1986.

In 2000 he returned with the international kidnapping thriller Proof of Life, which made more of a buzz for the relationship that developed between stars Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe during filming. He scored one of the biggest hits of his career in 2004 with Ray, a biopic of Ray Charles that won Jamie Foxx the Oscar for Best Actor. He directed his wife in the 2010 film Love Ranch and a few years later helmed the Jason Statham vehicle Parker.

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  • After graduating from college, spent two years in Bolivia as part of the Peace Corps.
  • While filming his time in Bolivia, fell in love with the medium and gave up his desire to study law.
  • Earned two local Emmys in the 1970s for his work as an investigative reporter for KCET in Los Angeles.
  • Made his big-screen directorial debut in 1980 with the rock biopic The Idolmaker.
  • Scored his biggest hit as a director with the 1982 romance An Officer and a Gentleman.
  • Met his wife, actor Helen Mirren, on the set of his 1985 drama White Nights.
  • Has become known for his documentary profiles and biopics, including the acclaimed Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987) and the Oscar-winning Ray (2004).
  • Succeed Michael Apted as president of the Directors Guild of America in 2009.