Peter Weir

GALLIPOLI (1981) The haunting drama -- about the massacre in Turkey during World War I -- first got Weir noticed in Hollywood and helped put Australian filmmaking on the map. The film earned a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign film. ''Ideas can be more violent than action. To me, 'Gallipoli' was a much more disturbing movie in terms of its ideas. These young soldiers [specifically, Australian actor Mark Lee and a then-25-year-old Gibson] wasting their lives, knowing they were about to waste them -- that's violence.''

THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (1983) The napalm-hot chemistry between Gibson and Sigourney Weaver is what brought audiences to this steamy love story set amidst political struggles in Indonesia in 1965, but Weir's big gamble was Linda Hunt playing a diminutive half-Chinese man named Billy Kwan. ''Linda laughed at the idea at first, but she went for it. She had only one bad moment when we were shooting in Manila. A room-service waiter brought her breakfast and said, 'Where would you like your tray, sir?' That was rough -- she wasn't in makeup or costume or anything -- but I think she got over it.'' Probably right around the time she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the role.

WITNESS (1985) Weir got all the ingredients right for his first American movie: Harrison Ford is a tough Philadelphia cop who falls for beautiful Amish widow Kelly McGillis while investigating a brutal murder. ''I was determined not to get caught in the traps Hollywood sets for a director coming across from Australia. I didn't want to compromise. People always try to get you to compromise. There was a shot in 'Witness' I had to save -- in the bathroom when the child witnesses the murder. I heard it was too graphic, too upsetting. But I wanted it to be a profound assault on the innocence of this child. I wanted it to be graphic.''

THE MOSQUITO COAST (1986) Ford again, this time as an antisocial inventor who forsakes civilization for the Central American jungle. ''A gamble with the public, especially in America,'' says Weir of the film based on the Paul Theroux novel. ''The literary tradition in Europe is that the hero begins as heroic but has a flaw that widens until it collapses him. But in America, it's the opposite. The character starts out flawed and then becomes heroic. Ultimately, the movie didn't find an audience.''

GREEN CARD (1990) Weir's first (and only) experiment with the romantic-comedy formula won him an Oscar nomination for screenwriting. Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell were the guinea pigs. ''I wrote it for Gerard. I didn't even know if he spoke English. Sometimes I just write things as an exercise to sharpen my skills. But as I was working, I began to see Gerard. He had visited Sydney and was in the newspapers, so I stuck his picture on the wall and imagined him as the character. I had no idea if he'd be interested, but I sent it to him and he said yes.''

FEARLESS (1993) Jeff Bridges plays an airplane crash survivor who walks away from the accident convinced he's invincible. Again, Weir directed an unlikely costar -- Rosie Perez -- to an Oscar nomination. ''I used to have these superstitions about flying -- not taking Flight 13 and rubbish like that. But while I was getting ready to make Fearless, FedEx let me use one of their flight simulators. They re-created an accident for me. I flew the plane and felt what it was like to lose control. Completely cured me of my fear of flying.''


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