Taylor Hackford

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Taylor Hackford

Hackford in January 2013
Born Taylor Edwin Hackford
December 31, 1944 (1944-12-31) (age 79)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Occupation Film director
Years active 1971–present
Children 2

Taylor Edwin Hackford (born December 31, 1944) is an American film director and former president of the Directors Guild of America. He won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for Teenage Father (1979). Hackford went on to direct a number of highly regarded feature films, most notably An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) and Ray (2004), the latter of which saw him nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and Academy Award for Best Picture.

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. The camera was purchased for him by fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Steve Ball. He decided that he did not want to pursue a career in law, and instead got a mailroom position at KCET-TV.[3] At KCET he was the associate producer on the Leon Russell special "Homewood" in 1970.[4] In 1973 at KCET he produced the one-hour special Bukowski (about the poet Charles Bukowski), directed by Richard Davies.[5]


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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8]

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."[6]

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."[9] 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.

Some producers balked at the additional $45,000 Hackford spent to produce the Against all odds music video.[10] In hindsight, it was argued that fans who liked the video, who were prepared to ignore the film's negative reviews, added millions to the film's profits.

On July 25, 2009, Hackford was elected president of the Directors Guild of America.[11] 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.[12]

Personal life

Hackford has been married three times. He married his first wife, Georgie Lowres, in 1967; they have one child, Rio Hackford, born in 1970. The couple divorced in 1972. In 1977, Hackford married Lynne Littman, with whom he has one child, Alexander Hackford, born in 1979; their marriage lasted until 1987. 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."[13] Hackford and Mirren wed in 1997, although as a young woman Mirren had vowed never to marry.[13] The couple lives along the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.[14]

In 2009, Hackford signed a petition in support of director Roman Polanski, calling for his release after his arrest in Switzerland in relation to his 1977 charge for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl.[15]


Year Film Director Producer Writer Notes
1973 Bukowski yes yes Documentary
1978 Teenage Father yes yes yes Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film
1980 The Idolmaker yes uncredited
1982 An Officer and a Gentleman yes Nominated- Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
1984 Against All Odds yes yes
1985 White Nights yes yes
1987 Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll yes Documentary
1988 Everybody's All-American yes yes
1993 Blood In, Blood Out yes yes
1995 Dolores Claiborne yes yes
1997 The Devil's Advocate yes Executive
2000 Proof of Life yes yes
2004 Ray yes yes Story Nominated- Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated- Academy Award for Best Director
Nominated- Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film
2010 Love Ranch yes yes
2013 Parker yes yes
2016 The Comedian yes yes
Executive producer only
Producer only


  1. "Taylor Hackford Biography (1944?-)". Filmreference.com. http://www.filmreference.com/film/84/Taylor-Hackford.html. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  2. Notable Alumni Archived June 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., USC School of Cinematic Arts
  3. "Special Award Winners for 59th Annual DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America. December 19, 2006. http://www.dga.org/news/pr_expand.php3?484. 
  4. anonymous3498673 (June 28, 2015). "Leon Russell - Homewood Session 1970-12-05". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bwMqliLXZQ. 
  5. Bukowski. January 19, 1973. OCLC 422744912. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "April 26, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS – Bolivia: Movies: Hollywood: San Francisco Examiner: Taylor Hackford speaks up". Peace Corps Online. http://peacecorpsonline.org/messages/messages/467/2031326.html. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  7. Geniuses Spielberg and Paul and a town full of them : North County Times – Californian
  8. "NEWS GERE BEGGED DIRECTOR NOT TO SHOOT ROMANTIC SCENE Music, movie & Entertainment News". Pr-inside.com. Archived from the original on 2012-12-29. https://web.archive.org/web/20121229022759/http://www.pr-inside.com/gere-begged-director-not-to-shoot-r108124.htm. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  9. "Combustible Celluloid interview – Taylor Hackford". Combustiblecelluloid.com. 2005-04-21. http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/interviews/hackford.shtml. Retrieved 2013-02-28. 
  10. {{cite news | url = https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/3815137.pdf?casa_token=cv4HWf-B5ZgAAAAA:obPHA4gC0-7wcVuwtMXQuLT9janqSdIDky_ssjL41Bl4Ql19X6oGFsL7WsmfLojug3pPmp5Y1qGtf2REAvNmhWRphrek4kb29rAZ__OPm6sbzms04rl3 | title = Synergy in 1980s Film and Music: Formula for Success or Industry Mythology? | work = [[Film History | volume = 4 | year = 1990 | author1 = R. Serge Denisoff | author2 = George Plasket | page = 259 | archiveurl = | archivedate = | accessdate = 2020-11-08 | url-status = live | quote = Taylor Hackford's $45,000 video of 'Against All Odds (Take a Look At Me Now)' was especially hot for home viewing consumption. Singer Phil Collins was given a new set at Columbia in order to complete the 3-minute clip. Producer David Kellogg, KABC (Los Angeles) did not like the video, 'because it looks like a trailer.' Kellogg's concern was not shared by Danny Goldberg. He felt the clip transcended the movie. 'Take AGAINST ALL ODDS. It made millions after no [good] reviews, and largely because there is a passion in the Phil Collins vocal in the video which implies a passion in the movie, where in fact there is, I think little real passion.' The Columbia music supervisor, Gary LeMel, felt the clip on MTV increased the movie's box office receipts by at least $5 million. }}
  11. "Taylor Hackford elected president of Directors Guild without opposition". Company Town (blog) (Los Angeles Times). July 26, 2009. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertainmentnewsbuzz/2009/07/taylor-hackford-elected-president-of-directors-guild-without-opposition.html. Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  12. Kilday, Gregg (2011-06-25). "DGA Re-Elects Taylor Hackford as President". The Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/taylor-hackford-elected-president-directors-205636. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Nancy Griffin (September 20, 2006). "Mirren, Mirren on the Wall". AARP the Magazine
  14. "Helen Mirren's husband wants to build a parking lot in Reno (near the building he owns)". Reno Gazette-Journal. February 28, 2018. https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2019/02/28/helen-mirrens-director-husband-wants-build-parking-lot-reno/3021350002/. 
  15. "Signez la pétition pour Roman Polanski !" (in French). La Règle du jeu. November 10, 2009. https://laregledujeu.org/2009/11/10/479/signez-la-petition-pour-roman-polanski/. 

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