Oct 092013

In this episode of the Wait Wait… Baz Luhrmann’s first movie, Strictly Ballroom, was a cheap, independent romance set in the world of ballroom dancing. The 1992 film became an international hit. Since then, the director, writer and producer has become known for his lavish operatic movies like Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge! and the recent The Great Gatsby.

Luhrmann’s from Australia, where people are rugged and tough. We’re from America, where people are dumb and mix up Australia and Austria. So we’re going to ask Luhrmann three questions about that other country that he isn’t from, Austria.

Listen to the Story

PETER SAGAL, HOST: And now the game where we ask somebody who is cool about something that is lame. Baz Luhrmann’s first movie, “Strictly Ballroom,” was a cheap indie romance set in the world of ballroom dancing. It became an international hit.

Since then, he’s become known for his lavish operatic movies like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge” and most recently “The Great Gatsby.” We are sorry we can’t see his ornate costume, but still, Baz Luhrmann, welcome to WAIT WAIT…DON’T TELL ME! How are you?


BAZ LUHRMAN: I’m thrilled to be here. You’re lacking my ornate costume.

SAGAL: I know, well, I have to ask, your movies are so fabulously over the top in terms of their costumes and their music. And I mean is that how you live? Do you have like a band?

LUHRMAN: Well, everyone does expect when they meet me that I’ve got a top hat and a cane, but no, we live quite a minimal – I wouldn’t say it was a normal life, but we live – it’s the circus life we know, Peter.

SAGAL: I understand. Is that how you grew up? I mean, you have such a theatrical imagination. I just imagine you growing up with a traveling circus, at the very least the daughter of a ballerina.

LUHRMAN: I grew up in a very isolated, tiny town, and no one ever wins a bet when they say their town was smaller than mine because it was 11 houses – it was very isolated. And we had a gas station, a farm and a cinema. But I was always doing pretty much what I’m doing now, which is imagining, creating, telling stories, stuff like that.

SAGAL: And did your parents encourage you in this?

LUHRMAN: Fantastically so. My father was so intense. He was in the Vietnam War. And, I mean, we had to learn to paint and ballroom dance and do commando training.



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