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Photo: Annie Leibowitz; courtesy Julie Taymor

Theater and Film Director

Marina Kellen French Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2023

Julie Taymor is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy and Tony Award-winning director whose productions range from musicals and Shakespearean theater to classical operas and films. Her Broadway production of The Lion King debuted in 1997 and received 11 Tony Award nominations, winning Best Musical; Taymor received the award for Best Director and Costume Designer. The Lion King has played over one hundred cities in twenty countries; its worldwide gross exceeds that of any entertainment title in box-office history.


Taymor’s additional theater credits include Grounded at the Public Theater, starring Anne Hathaway; Broadway’s M Butterfly, starring Clive Owen; The Green Bird; and Juan Darién, A Carnival Mass, which earned five Tony Award nominations. Her operas include Oedipus Rex, under the baton of Seiji Ozawa and featuring Jessye Norman; The Flying Dutchman; Salome; Die Zauberflote (in repertory at the Met); The Magic Flute (which inaugurated a PBS series entitled “Great Performances at the Met”), and Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel which premiered at the LA Opera and was also performed at the Lincoln Center Festival.


In 2022, Taymor served as jury president for the Tokyo International Film Festival and also co-wrote and directed the feature film of Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, starring Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Janelle Monáe and Bette Midler. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released on Amazon Prime. Taymor’s additional film credits include: Fool’s Fire; Oedipus Rex, starring Jessye Norman which received two Emmy Awards as well as the International Classical Music Award; Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange; Frida, starring Salma Hayek which garnered six Academy Award nominations and won two; Across the Universe, which received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations; The Tempest, starring Helen Mirren; and a cinematic version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, filmed during her critically acclaimed stage production at Theatre for a New Audience in New York. The film version premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.


The recipient of fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim foundations, Taymor has received two OBIE Awards, the first Annual Dorothy B. Chandler Award in Theater, a 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. An illustrated book about her career, Julie Taymor: Playing with Fire, is in its third edition by Harry N. Abrams. Taymor is also the author of The Lion King: Pride Rock on Broadway (Hyperion, 1997), an adapted screenplay for Titus, and Frida: Bringing Frida Kahlo’s Life and Art to Film (Newmarket Press, 2002).

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