Date of Birth: April 29, 1950
Australian filmmaker Phillip Noyce developed an interest in films at an early age, producing his first short at 17. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in the University of Sydney's law school, but switched to fine arts. In 1972, Noyce was accepted into the Australian Film and Television School. He first made a 19-minute short about a vaudeville pageant, called That’s Showbiz (1973), and his next short, a 44-minute documentary about two very different brothers (Castor and Pollux, 1973) won the Sydney Film Festival's Rouben Mamoulien award. God Knows Why, But It Works (1975), a docudrama about medical care among the Aborigines, marked Noyce's debut as a professional filmmaker.
Although it was just an hour in length, his first feature film was Backroads (1977), a drama about the culture of the Australian outback. His next film, Newsfront (1978), was his first full-length film and it was a commercial and critical success in Australia, winning Noyce an award for Best Director from the Australian Film Institute.
His first international success came with the thriller Dead Calm (1989), an Australian/USA co-production that starred Nicole Kidman and Sam Neill. The film won several awards from the Australian Film Institute, and gained Noyce an entrée into American cinema. His first American film, Blind Fury (1989), starred Rutger Hauer, but it wasn't until he directed Tom Clancy's spy thriller Patriot Games (1992), starring Harrison Ford, that he had a solid hit on his hands. Sliver (1993), starring Sharon Stone was a misfire that lacked suspense, but his next Clancy adaptation, Clear and Present Danger (1994), again starring Harrison Ford, was another solid notch on Noyce's belt and established him as a leading Hollywood director.
Unfortunately, his next film, The Saint (1997) earned a Razzie nomination for its star, Val Kilmer. In 2001, Noyce returned to his homeland to make his first Australian film in 12 years. Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) tells the true story of three small Aboriginal girls who were taken from their homes by the government. Before even opening in wide release in North America, it had won the "Audience Award" at the Aspen Filmfest, the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Valladolid International Film Festival, as well as the Film Critics Circle of Australia Award. In 2006 he was awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award by the Australian Directors Guild.
His next film, Catch a FireSalt, starring Angelina Jolie in the title role.
Noyce describes himself as a "discombobulated presence on a set," but remains thrilled and amazed that he was able to carve a career in his native Australia at a time when there was no home-grown film industry. "No child back home would really think to say, 'I want to be a movie director,' because there was no such animal," Noyce says. He describes his work as "a gift, a privilege. Not a right, but a wonderful, wonderful gift."