George MillerAO (born 3 March 1945) is an Australian filmmaker best known for his Mad Max franchise, whose second installment, Mad Max 2, and fourth, Fury Road, have been hailed as two of the greatest action films of all time, with Fury Road winning six Academy Awards. Miller is very diverse in genre and style as he also directed the biographical medical drama Lorenzo’s Oil, the dark fantasy The Witches of Eastwick, the Academy Award-winning animated film Happy Feet, produced the family-friendly fantasy adventure Babe and directed the sequel Babe: Pig in the City.
Miller’s first work, the short film Violence in Cinema: Part 1 (1971), polarised critics, audiences and distributors so much that it was placed in the documentary category at the 1972 Sydney Film Festival due to its matter-of-fact depiction of cinematic violence. In 1979, Miller made his feature-length directorial debut with Mad Max. Based on a script written by Miller and James McCausland in 1975, the film was independently financed by Kennedy Miller Productions and went on to become an international success. As a result, the film spawned the Mad Max series with two further sequels starring Mel Gibson: Mad Max 2 also released as The Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). The third film in the series Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
During the time between the second and third Mad Max films, Miller directed a remake of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” as a segment for the anthology film Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983). He also co-produced and co-directed many acclaimed miniseries for Australian television including The Dismissal (1983) and The Cowra Breakout (1984).
In 1987, Miller directed The Witches of Eastwick, starring Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Cher and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film proved to be a troubling experience for Miller. “I quit the film twice and Jack [Nicholson] held me in there,” said Miller. “He said, ‘Just sit down, lose your emotion, and have a look at the work. If you think the work is good, stick with the film.’ And he was a great man. I learnt more from him than anybody else I think I’d worked for – he was extraordinary.” Nicholson also coached Miller to exaggerate his needs during the production, asking for 300 extras when he only needed 150, knowing that his producers would give him less than he requested. The award-winning production designer Polly Platt also collaborated closely with Miller on The Witches of Eastwick. Cher later said that prior to working on the film, Miller called her at home, the day after her 40th birthday, to inform her that he and Nicholson didn’t want her in the film. She was deemed “too old and not sexy”.
Following The Witches of Eastwick, Miller focused primarily on producing Australian projects. His role as producer of Flirting, Dead Calm and the TV miniseries Bangkok Hilton and Vietnam, all starring Nicole Kidman, was instrumental in the development of her career.
In 1993, Miller was hired to direct Contact based on the story by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan. After working on the film for over a year, Warner Bros. and Miller mutually agreed to part ways and Robert Zemeckis was eventually brought on to direct.
Miller was also the creator of Happy Feet, a musical epic about the life of penguins in Antarctica. The Warner Bros.-produced film was released in November 2006. As well as being a runaway box office success, Happy Feet also brought Miller his fourth Academy Award nomination, and his first win in the category of Best Animated Feature.
In 2007, Miller signed on to direct a Justice League film titled Justice League: Mortal. While production was initially held up due to the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike, further production delays and the success of The Dark Knight led to Warner Bros. deciding to put the film on hold and pursue different options.
In 2011, the Happy Feet sequel Happy Feet Two was released. The following year, Miller began principal photography on Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth film in the Mad Max series, after several years of production delays. Fury Road was released on 15 May 2015. The film was met with widespread critical acclaim and received 10 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, while Miller himself was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.
In April 2017, Miller said that he and co-writer Nico Lathouris have finished two additional post-Fury Road scripts for the Mad Max series. The Fury Road lead, Tom Hardy, is committed to the next sequel. In 2015, and again in early 2017, Miller said “the fifth film in the franchise will be titled Mad Max: The Wasteland.” In 2020, it was reported that Miller would next direct the Mad Max spinoff Furiosa.
Miller was married to actress Sandy Gore from 1985 to 1992; they have a daughter. He has been married to film editor Margaret Sixel since 1995; they have two sons. The two initially met during the production of Flirting,[dubious – discuss] and Sixel has since worked on all of Miller’s directorial efforts in some capacity.
Miller has said on multiple occasions that the 1940 version of Pinocchio is one of his favourite films.