December 29, 1967
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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Even as a child, James McTeigue's greatest passion was movies. Born in Sydney, Australia in 1967, McTeigue was the son of a film buff, and spent many afternoons and evenings with his father, watching classics ranging from the Marx Brothers to "Wuthering Heights" (1939). Growing up in the suburb of Collaroy Plateau, he attended Cromer High School in nearby Cromer, before eventually enrolling at Charles Sturt University in Waga Waga. At college, McTeigue studied under lecturers like author and filmmaker Tony Wellington, who helped instill in him an appreciation for all areas of film, both high and low brow. Soon, the young upstart was ready to enter show business. His first, humble step on the production ladder was as an art department runner for the Australian horror comedy "The Wicked" (1987) and the thriller "The Edge of Power" (1987). The jobs mainly entailed running errands for members of the art department staff, but this menial labor still offered McTeigue valuable first-hand knowledge about the workings of a film set. Soon, he was moving up, working as a third assistant director on "The Girl Who Came Late" (1992), which meant shooting the most distantly supplementary footage for the project. His next move founding him climbing still another step up, acting as second assistant director on "No Escape" (1994). He would work on increasingly prominent, international films as a second assistant director, filming important supplementary footage for movies like the action packed "Street Fighter" (1994) and the neo-noir "Dark City" (1998). In 1999, McTeigue's profile was raised even further. He had a friend who was working as a first assistant director on an upcoming sci-fi thriller. The friend needed to drop out of the project, and offered to refer McTeigue to the post. Soon, McTeigue was working with the Wachowskis on "The Matrix" (1999), personally overseeing the production of complex, primary sequences, and helping make the directing team's vision come to life. When the film was released to rave reviews and an explosive impact at the box office, it became clear that McTeigue had forged a powerful partnership. He would next assistant direct a few independent movies like "The Monkey's Mask" (2000) and "Looking for Alibrandi" (2000) before being tapped by none other than George Lucas, who hired McTeigue to first assistant direct "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002). McTeigue would then first assistant direct the two "Matrix" sequels, "The Matrix Reloaded" (2003) and "The Matrix Revolutions" (2003). By 2005, he was ready to take his career to the next level. For his first project as a director in his own right, McTeigue signed on to adapt Alan Moore's legendary graphic novel "V for Vendetta" (2005) for the screen. Working with his old partners the Wachowskis as producers, he cast Natalie Portman in the role of Evie, a young woman living in a totalitarian near-future, who becomes involved with a revolutionary figure known only as V. For that title role, McTeigue cast James Purefoy. But once filming commenced, it became clear that the actor wasn't well suited to acting from beneath the character's trademark mask and cape. He recast the role with Hugo Weaving, with whom he had worked closely on the "Matrix" series. For his next film, McTeigue opted to move away from the brooding, socio-political subject matter of his first project and instead, take inspiration from the b-level kung fu movies and TV shows he loved during his youth. The result was the martial arts action romp "Ninja Assassin" (2009). Picking up speed as a filmmaker, he next made a fictionalized murder mystery involving gothic author Edgar Allen Poe, "The Raven" (2012), before trying his hand at making a traditional crime thriller with "Survivor" (2015).