His films very often deal with people, who find themselves in surroundings, where they do not fit in (e.g. a Philadelphia Cop among the Amish, in Witness (1985), or a progressive teacher on a strictly conservative school, in Dead Poets Society (1989)).
His films often feature a key scene involving a main character fiddling with their radio.
Famous for making well-known comedy and genre actors into credible dramatic actors such as Harrison Ford, Robin Williams and Jim Carrey.
He was a part of the movement dubbed the "Australian New Wave" by the press. They were a group of filmmakers and performers who emerged from Down Under at about the same time in the early 1980's and found work in other parts of the world. Other members included actors Mel Gibson and Judy Davis and directors George Miller and Gillian Armstrong.
Father of Ingrid Weir.
Directed 5 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Linda Hunt, Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Rosie Perez and Ed Harris. Hunt won an Oscar for The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).
Interviewed in "Directors Close Up: Interviews with Directors Nominated for Best Film by the Directors Guild of America", ed. by Jeremy Kagan, Scarecrow Press, 2006.
He was awarded the A.M. (Member of the Order of Australia) in the 1982 Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to the Film Industry.
He is an avid reader and three of his favorite books are Hope Against Hope by Nadezhda Mandel'shtam, My Century by Aleksander Wat and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
The White Ribbon (2009) is one of his favourite films.
Palm Beach, New South Wales, California [January 2009]
Holds a Law degree from the University of Sydney, one of the best-performing law schools in the world.
President of the 'Official Competition' jury at the 50th Venice International Film Festival in 1993.
As of 2018, he has directed three Oscar Best Picture nominees: Witness (1985), Dead Poets Society (1989) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). He was also nominated for Best Director for each film.