Julie Taymor

Julie Taymor (born December 15, 1952) is an American director of Broadway theatre and film. Taymor's work has received many accolades from critics, and she has earned two Tony Awards out of four nominations, an Emmy Award, and an Academy Award nomination for her work, noted for its visual flair and colorful costuming choices. She resides in New York City with her partner Elliot Goldenthal, whom she has been with for over 20 years. She is widely known as the first female to win the Tony Award for director of a musical.


Early life

Taymor was born in Newton, Massachusetts, of Jewish heritage, daughter of Elizabeth (née Bernstein), a political science teacher, and Melvin Lester Taymor, a gynecologist. Taymor's interest in theatre took root early in her life. At the age of seven, she was already drawing her sister into stagings of children's stories for her parents. By the age of nine, she became entranced with the Boston Children's Theatre and became involved with them. In high school, she became interested in international travel, and made trips to both Sri Lanka and India with the Experiment in International Living. Being the youngest member of theatre groups became common, as she joined Julie Portman's Theatre Workshop of Boston at the age of 15. Yearning for a more in depth approach to her work, Taymor went to Paris to study with L'Ecole de Mime Jacques Lecoq. During her studies there, she became exposed to mime which helped in the development of her physical sensibilities.

Although in 1970 Taymor enrolled in Oberlin College in Ohio, she sought experience with Joseph Chaikin's Open Theatre and other companies and studied through correspondence. Hearing that director Herbert Blau would be moving to Oberlin, she returned there and auditioned successfully, becoming, once again, the youngest member of a troupe. In 1973 Taymor attended a summer program of the American Society for Eastern Arts in Seattle. The instructors were performers of Indonesian topeng masked dance-drama and wayang kulit shadow puppetry. This would prove to have a great effect on Taymor in later years. Taymor graduated from Oberlin College with a major in mythology and folklore and Phi Beta Kappa honors in 1974.


After her college years, Taymor used a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study pre-Bunraku puppetry on the island of Awaji, Japan in order to learn more about experimental theatre, puppetry, and visually oriented theatre. Taymor's greatest acclaim as a director for the stage has come from the popular musical The Lion King, a 1997 adaptation of the animated film of that name. Taymor received two Tony Awards for her work on The Lion King, one for direction and one for costume design, making her the first woman to receive a Tony Award for directing a musical.

Taymor has transitioned from stage to screen in recent years, directing the films Titus in 1999 (an adaptation of the play Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare) and Frida in 2002 (a movie based on the life of artist Frida Kahlo). Both movies received positive reviews for their stylish filming; Frida was the more acclaimed of the two, garnering six Academy Award nominations and winning in two of the six categories (Best Makeup and Best Original Score). Taymor and Goldenthal were co-nominees in the Best Original Song category.

For the Metropolitan Opera during the 2005/2006 season, Taymor directed a successful production of The Magic Flute. It was revised for the 2006/2007 season and, in addition to full-length performances, was adapted for a 100-minute version over the Holiday season to appeal to children. That version of the opera was the first of a series of NCM Fathom Live on the Big Screen presentations of MET operas downloaded via satellite to movie theatres across North America and parts of Europe for the 2006/2007 season.

In June 2006, Taymor directed the opera Grendel for Los Angeles Opera which was also presented as part of the Summer 2006 Lincoln Center Festival in New York City. Taymor's most recent work has been as director of the film Across the Universe, a 1960s love story set to the music of The Beatles, and starring Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood. Unhappy with Taymor's cut of the film, Revolution Studios recut the film to generate a shorter version (among other changes) without Taymor's consent. However, after several months of dispute, Taymor's version was eventually reinstated as the theatrically released version The film opened in September 2007.

In April 2007, it was announced that Marvel Studios was preparing to make a Spider-Man musical adaptation for the stage. Taymor has been selected to direct the show, with music to be composed and written by Bono and The Edge, whom Taymor employed for two songs heard in Across the Universe. Songs for the Spider-Man musical were written in two weeks.

As of September 2008, Taymor will be directing a film version of William Shakespeare's The Tempest.



  • Juan Darien (1996) – Director, co-bookwriter, co-scenic designer, co-costume designer, mask designer, puppet designerTony Award co-nomination for Best Scenic Design, Tony Award nomination for Best Direction of a Musical
  • The Lion King (1997) – Director, lyricist for the song Endless Night, costume designer, co-mask designer, co-puppet designer – Tony Award winner for Best Direction of a Musical, Tony Award co-nomination for Best Original Score, Tony Award winner for Best Costume Design
  • The Green Bird (2000) – Director, mask designer, puppet designer
  • ''Grendel (2007) - Librettist.
  • Spider-Man: The Musical (2009) – Director, Co-book-writer



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