Birthdate: March 3, 1945
Birthplace: Chinchilla, Queensland, Australia
Australian writer-producer-director George Miller has a career like no other: On one end, he’s made the Mad Max series, replete with visions of a violent, post-Apocalyptic world; on the other, there are Miller’s two pairs of charming animated features, Happy Feet, and Babe. Few filmmakers can claim such polar-opposite genres and styles and yet claim a consistent directorial style. Rich with visual flourishes, vivid casting, and comic flair, George Miller’s movies have developed a passionate audience following.
In a potentially daring move, Miller announced in 2018 that his next feature as writer and director would be the original fantasy (not affiliated with either the Mad Max, Babe, or Happy Feet series), Three Thousand Years of Longing. The film, starring Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, premiered out of competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
After making a few experimental films and a controversial short, Violence in Cinema: Part 1 (1971), George Miller directed the cult hit, Mad Max (1979), with Mel Gibson in one of his earliest breakout roles. This was followed by the highly successful cult follow-up, The Road Warrior (1981), leading to Miller’s entry into Hollywood filmmaking with a segment (“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” starring John Lithgow) in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), co-directed with Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and John Landis. Miller expanded the palette of the Mad Max series with Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), co-starring Gibson and Tina Turner.
George Miller’s foray into Hollywood continued with the starry The Witches of Eastwick (1987), with Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Cher. After producing Australian features and TV projects with Nicole Kidman, Miller co-wrote Lorenzo’s Oil (1992) and directed the critically acclaimed and Oscar-nominated film starring Sarandon and Nick Nolte.
Miller switched gears dramatically over the next decade and a half as the imaginative maker of exceptionally skilled, entertaining, and smart animated family movies: Babe (1995), Babe: Pig in the City (1998), Happy Feet (2006), and the fine but commercially under-performing Happy Feet Two (2011).
For some, Happy Feet--a vibrant musical about Antarctic penguins voiced by Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and Hugo Weaving--has set an unsurpassed standard for digital animation, made outside of the huge animated studio system dominated by Disney/Pixar and DreamWorks Animation.
Impressively, George Miller rebounded quickly from the disappointing box-office results of Happy Feet Two with his wildly acclaimed return to the world of his Miller’s franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), with Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron. The movie marked a remarkable consensus of the critical, audience, and industry support, capped with ten Academy Award nominations and six Oscar wins.
The reboot was such a wild success that it has spawned two sequels, planned to be made after Miller’s 2022 Three Thousand Years of Longing, Mad Max: The Wasteland (2022) and the origin story Furiosa (2024), with Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Burke.
George Miller’s parents were Greek immigrants—father Dimitrios Millotis (his name Anglicized to Jim Miller) and mother Angela, originally from Greek ethnic parents in Anatolia, Turkey. George Miller had three brothers—fraternal twins John, Chris, and Bill, who grew up to become film, producers.
Miller attended Ipswitch Grammar School and Sydney Boys High School and graduated from the University of New South Wales. Miller attended medical school and also attended film workshops at Melbourne University. His first marriage, to actor Sandy Gore, ended in divorce in 1992. They had a daughter. Miller is married to film editor Margaret Sixel, starting in 1995; the couple has had two sons. He has three children.
Patronage: George Miller is a patron of the Australian Film Institute, the Brisbane Film Festival, and the Sydney Film Festival.
Not Quite Over: Miller quit the production of The Witches of Eastwick twice but was talked into resuming work by star Jack Nicholson.
My Wife, The Editor: George Miller’s regular film editor happens to be his wife, Margaret Sixel.