Julie Taymor

The Purest Kind of Storytelling
The Power of Letting the Story Create the Artistry

“[Shakespeare is] my hero in understanding that you can create great art without condescending or patronizing your audience. And that really is something that I firmly believe in and am inspired to do in my own work whether it’s opera, theatre or film.”

If you’re like many people, you see a film or go to the theatre, enjoy the story and the entertainment and that’s that. But for Julie Taymor, any production in which she has been involved as a director and/or writer will have been an exploration of social issues to provide a sound but subtle underpinning of the end result. Combining her considerable designing skills, her passion for the arts and expression, and her intense desire to fully tell powerful stories with heart, soul and purpose, Taymor is a force to be reckoned with. In this episode, Taymor shares in detail much of her process in creating some of the best-loved theatrical and film productions of our time.

Julie Taymor is an American director and writer of theater, opera and film. Since the 1997 debut of her stage adaptation of The Lion King, 24 global productions have been seen by more than 90 million people in over 100 cities in 19 countries, earning the highest worldwide gross of any entertainment title in box office history. It also received 11 Tony Award nominations, including Taymor’s Tony Award for Best Director and Costume Designer. Her film, Frida, about revered Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, was nominated for five Academy Awards, and her 1960s Beatles musical, Across the Universe, won approval from both Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney.

What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • The unusual challenges Taymor faced in turning Gloria Steinem’s autobiography into a film
  • The surprise of an unknown connection between Ms. Steinem and Taymor’s vision for the film
  • Taymor’s childhood start in acting
  • Her experience with experimental theatre in the 1960s
  • Why Taymor went to Paris to learn mime
  • What made her begin designing and sculpting masks
  • The only circumstance in which Taymor will use puppets or masks in her productions
  • Fascinating background and development of the Lion King stage adaptation
  • How it became a multiracial project, unlike the screen version
  • The challenges and evolution of designing and creating mechanical masks and costumes
  • How Salman Rushdie became involved in Across the Universe
  • Why Taymor would not work on that film under its original title, “All You Need is Love”
  • Salma Hayek’s major contribution to the development of the film, Frida
  • Taymor’s intense determination to tell a story fully

Featured on the Show:
IMDb | The Glorias | Frida | Across the Universe