Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice in Strictly Ballroom, photo courtesy of M&A Film Corporation
Craig Pearce is one of Australia’s best known international screenwriters.
Craig Pearce studied acting at Australia’s premier theatre school, the National Institute of Dramatic Art. As an actor he was part of Baz Luhrmann’s theatre ensemble Six Years Old, established under the auspices of the Sydney Theatre Company. There, he collaborated with Luhrmann and other company members to develop an extended version of Strictly Ballroom. The production was acclaimed by critics and audiences and became the catalyst for the 1992 film version, which Pearce co-wrote with Luhrmann.
The film of Strictly Ballroom won eight Australian Film Institute awards, including Best Screenplay. It was also nominated for five BAFTAS, including Best Screenplay, and won the Prix de la Jeunesse at the Cannes Film Festival and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Best Screenplay.
Pearce and Luhrmann then adapted William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for the screen. The film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, broke box office records for Shakespeare worldwide. Among its many nominations and awards, it won the Alfred Bauer Award, the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and four BAFTAs, including Best Screenplay.
Pearce and Luhrmann also co-wrote the screenplay for Moulin Rouge. The film was the opening night in-competition movie at the Cannes Film Festival. Its many accolades include winning two National Board Of Review awards, including best film; nine Golden Satellite awards, including a nomination for Best Screenplay; three Golden Globes®, including Best Film Musical or Comedy; a Grammy; the Los Angeles Film Festival award for Movie of the Year; five Australian Film Institute awards; two American Film Institute awards; and numerous other honors throughout the world. Moulin Rouge was also nominated for eleven BAFTAs, including Best Screenplay; eight Academy Awards®, including Best Picture; and the 54th Annual WGA Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
In 2010, Pearce’s screen adaptation of Charlie St. Cloud, starring Zac Efron, was released worldwide by Universal Studios. He then co-wrote The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton, which was a world wide box office and critical success going on to win two Oscars®, two BAFTA’s and 13 AFI awards, including Best Screenplay. It also had the honor of opening the 2013 Cannes film festival.
Pearce’s latest collaboration with Luhrmann, Strictly Ballroom: The Musical, was his first music theatre production. After a successful launch in Syndey in 2014, it went on to have seasons in Melbourne and Brisbane. It has since played in England and Canada and is slated to return to the UK for its West End debut in 2018.
In 2016 Pearce was honored with the Australian Writer’s Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2017 Craig completed his first major television project, serving as writer, executive producer and showrunner for TNT’s Will, about the lost years of young William Shakespeare.