Taylor Hackford

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Taylor Hackford
Hackford in January 2013
Born Taylor Edwin Hackford
(1944-12-31) December 31, 1944 (age 74)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Occupation Film director
Years active 1971–present
Spouse(s) Lynne Littman (m. 1977–82)
Helen Mirren (m. 1997)

Taylor Edwin Hackford (born December 31, 1944) is an American film director, and the former president of the Directors Guild of America. He has directed a number of feature films, notably An Officer and a Gentleman and Ray. He won the 1979 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for Teenage Father.

Early life

Hackford was born in Santa Barbara, California, the son of Mary (née Taylor), a waitress, and Joseph Hackford.[1] He graduated from the University of Southern California in 1968,[2] where he was a pre-law major focusing on international relations and economics. After graduating, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia, where he started using Super 8 film in his spare time. He decided that he did not want to pursue a career in law, and instead got a mailroom position at KCET-TV.[3]


The Idolmaker starred Ray Sharkey, who was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Actor for his portrayal of "Vinnie" in the film. The Music Supervisor was Richard Flanzer.[4] Hackford said of The Idolmaker, "I make films about working-class people; showbusiness is one of those things through which people can get themselves out of the lower rung of society. To me, the compelling story in The Idolmaker is the guy with a wonderful talent and a fairly strong ego has to make it happen through puppets."

During the filming of An Officer and a Gentleman, Hackford kept Lou Gossett Jr. in separate living quarters from the other actors so he could intimidate them more during his scenes as a drill instructor.[5] Richard Gere originally balked at shooting the ending, which involves his character arriving at his lover's factory wearing his Navy dress whites and carrying her off from the factory floor. Gere thought the ending would not work because it was too sentimental, and Hackford was initially inclined to agree with Gere, until during a rehearsal when the extras playing the workers began to cheer and cry. But when Gere saw the scene later with the music underneath it at the right tempo, he said it sent chills up the back of his neck, and is now convinced Hackford made the right decision.[6]

Hackford said of his film Ray: "My proudest moments in Ray were in those 'chitlin' clubs. Ray Charles ended his life in concert halls, where people would go in tuxedos and quietly listen to a genius perform. But in these clubs, he had to get people up dancing. What I tried to create was a little of that energy and exuberance. The great thing about music is when you can get people on their feet."[4]

In a 2005 interview, Hackford confirmed that he never watched his own films: "When I finish a film, I put it away and I never look at it again. Occasionally I do now because of the DVDs and the commentary tracks. I usually put it aside and go onto the next. I never went to film school. I worked for the KCET public television station in L.A. I worked in concerts. I have done a lot of music. I feel very comfortable shooting music, and I think you can see that."[7] Hackford has also directed music videos, including "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" by Phil Collins and "Say You, Say Me" by Lionel Richie.

On July 25, 2009, Hackford was elected President of the Directors Guild of America.[8] He was re-elected to a second, two-year term as President on June 25, 2011, at the DGA's National Biennial Convention in Los Angeles.[9]

Personal life

Hackford has been married to Academy Award-winning actress Helen Mirren since 1997. Hackford met Mirren when he was directing her in White Nights, although their first meeting did not go well: he kept her waiting to audition for White Nights, and she was icy. "It was a strange way to meet Helen, because she is a lovely person," says Hackford, "but she didn’t hold back her fury."[10] Hackford and Mirren wed in 1997 after 12 years together, although as a young woman Mirren had vowed never to marry.[10]

Hackford has two grown children from his two previous marriages.






Hackford received an Academy Award for Live Action Short Film for Teenage Father in 1979. He received two Oscar nominations in 2004 for the Ray Charles biopic Ray. He was awarded the 2005 Film Society Award for Lifetime Achievement in Directing.


  1. "Taylor Hackford Biography (1944?-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2013-02-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Notable Alumni, USC School of Cinematic Arts
  3. Special Award Winners for 59th Annual DGA Awards (December 19, 2006), Directors Guild of America
  4. 4.0 4.1 "April 26, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS – Bolivia: Movies: Hollywood: San Francisco Examiner: Taylor Hackford speaks up". Peace Corps Online. Retrieved 2013-02-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Geniuses Spielberg and Paul and a town full of them : North County Times – Californian
  6. "NEWS GERE BEGGED DIRECTOR NOT TO SHOOT ROMANTIC SCENE Music, movie & Entertainment News". Pr-inside.com. Retrieved 2013-02-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Combustible Celluloid interview – Taylor Hackford". Combustiblecelluloid.com. 2005-04-21. Retrieved 2013-02-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Taylor Hackford elected president of Directors Guild without opposition". Company Town (blog). Los Angeles Times. July 26, 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Kilday, Gregg (2011-06-25). "DGA Re-Elects Taylor Hackford as President". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2011-06-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Nancy Griffin (September 20, 2006). "Mirren, Mirren on the Wall". AARP the Magazine

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