Lee Tamahori

Director, Boom operator, Photographer
"Once Were Warriors" was one of only three feature films made specifically by and for New Zealand in 1994, but despite its $1. 4 million budget, it created an international sensation with its tale of a dysfunctional ... Read more »
Born: 06/16/1950 in New Zealand


Director (9)

Emperor 2015 (Movie)


The Devil's Double 2011 (Movie)


Next 2007 (Movie)


XXX: State of the Union 2005 (Movie)


Die Another Day 2002 (Movie)


Along Came A Spider 2001 (Movie)


The Edge 1997 (Movie)


Mulholland Falls 1996 (Movie)


Once Were Warriors 1995 (Movie)

Production Management (5)

Bridge to Nowhere 1986 (Movie)

(Assistant Director)

The Quiet Earth 1985 (Movie)

(Assistant Director)

Came a Hot Friday 1984 (Movie)

(Assistant Director)

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence 1983 (Movie)

(Assistant Director)

Utu 1983 (Movie)

(Assistant Director)
Actor (3)

Tell Them Who You Are 2005 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Me & Will 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)


At Sundance 1995 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)


"Once Were Warriors" was one of only three feature films made specifically by and for New Zealand in 1994, but despite its $1. 4 million budget, it created an international sensation with its tale of a dysfunctional Maori family and its charting of the decline of the indigenous people of New Zealand. As a result, its director, Lee Tamahori, who is, himself of mixed Maori and European descent, was plucked by Hollywood to direct major motion pictures. Tamahori began his film career as a boom operator in the late 70s, then, in the early 80s, was an assistant director on numerous New Zealand feature films. The first of these, Geoff Murphy's "Utu" (1982), also dealt with Maori culture. But it was as a TV commercial director, beginning in the mid-80s, that Tamahori began to attract international notice. During a ten-year period, Tamahori directed more than 100 commercials, including spots for Mobius in the USA, and was particularly acclaimed for his storytelling style. The chance to direct "Once Were Warriors" (1994) came as a result of his renown in TV commercials, and the film, about an abusive father and his family dealing with being social outcasts in New Zealand, attracted enough critical acclaim that soon Hollywood called. His first studio picture, 1996's "Muholland Falls," was a stylishly crafted noir thriller with an unfortunately mediocre story involving the Los Angeles Police Department's notoriois Hat Squad of the 1950s. Tamahori's next film was the crackerjack survival thriller "The Edge" (1997) which combined a tidy sheltered-man-against-nature tale with the director's visual panache and winning performances from Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin and even Bart the Bear, Hollywood's premiere ursine actor. "Along Came a Spider" (2001) was a less chanllenging but bigger-grossing effort, as it was a prequel of sorts to the hit thriller "Kiss the Girls" and again starred Morgan Freeman as novelist James Patterson's detective Alec Cross.



Directed Nicolas Cage and Jessica Biel in "Next," a sci-fi action film based on The Golden Man, a short story by Philip K. Dick


Helmed the action thriller "XXX: State of the Union," starring Ice Cube


Helmed "Die Another Day", the 20th James Bond feature starring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry


Directed the film adaptation of James Patterson's thriller "Along Came a Spider"


Directed an episode of "The Sopranos" (HBO) titled "Toodle-Fucking-Oo"


Helmed the thriller "The Edge" starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin


Made American directing debut, "Mulholland Falls"


Received worldwide acclaim for the powerful drama, "Once Were Warriors"; became the highest-grossing film in New Zealand's history


Made television directing debut with the series "The Ray Bradbury Theater"


Began directing TV commercials (date approximate)


Worked as assistant director on "Utu"

Feature directing debut, "Thunderbox"

Began working in film industry in late 1970s as boom operator

Bonus Trivia


"I've always admired films that make you reel out of the theatre and you have to go to a bar and get a drink. I want to make one that makes people stand up and makes the hairs on the back of their necks stand up." --Lee Tamahori


On January 8, 2006, Tamahori was arrested, booked and charged with prostitution and unlawfully loitering with the intent to commit prostitution in Hollywood, after he allegedly approached an undercover police officer in a car, and offered to perform a sex act for money.