An early career in television documentaries helped to shape the degree of verisimilitude that informed much of Taylor Hackford's efforts as a director and producer in Hollywood. After proving his skill with real-life subjects, he ventured into features, where he fared best with biopics - especially those based on the lives of rock 'n' roll pioneers like Ritchie Valens in "La Bamba" (1987) and Ray Charles in "Ray" (2004). His efforts outside this genre were met with varying degrees of success - the sudsy "An Officer and a Gentleman" (1982) and "Against All Odds" (1984) won many moviegoers' hearts, but later projects like "White Nights" (1985) and "Everybody's All-American" (1988) yielded uneven results. Feature length documentaries proved to be his most satisfying milieu, with "Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" (1987) and the Muhammad Ali fight story "When We Were Kings" (1996) earning him praise from critics and viewers alike. Films like these solidified Hackford's status as a director with an uncanny knack for capturing the drama inherent in everyday lives.