Bennett Miller Biography

Filmmaker, Director(1966–)
Bennett Miller is an American director known for such films as ‘Capote,’ ‘Moneyball’ and ‘Foxcatcher.’

Synopsis

Bennett Miller was born in New York City in December 1966. He attended film school at NYU before dropping out to work in various roles in the film industry. His first film was well-received, but his next, the powerful biopic Capote (2005), would change his life. The film racked up awards and honors for Miller and the entire cast and made Miller an overnight sensation in Hollywood. His next two films, Moneyball (2011) and Foxcatcher (2014) would continue the momentum, and the latter earned Miller an Oscar nomination for Achievement in Direction.

Early Years

Bennett Miller was born on December 30, 1966, in New York City and graduated from Mamaroneck High School in the northern suburbs of Westchester County. After high school, he attended New York University, where he studied film.

At NYU, Miller founded the short-lived Bullstoi Ensemble theater company with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Steven Schub, another actor, but Miller dropped out of film school in 1990. Although he gave up on college, Miller didn’t give up on film, and he spent some time as a filmmaker's assistant and as a director of fundraising videos.

First Films

As the 1990s wound down, Miller reached back into his past for the inspiration for his first film, a documentary called The Cruise (1998). When Miller was a teenager, his younger brother was friends with Timothy "Speed" Levitch, who went on to become a flamboyant tour guide aboard New York’s double-decker buses. Levitch struck Miller as a notable subject for a documentary, and the film Miller ended up making won an Emmy Award, the Audience Award and the Special Jury Award at the Newport Film Festival, and two awards at the massive Berlin Film Festival.

With that success, Miller landed an agent and began getting work directing commercials, all the while searching for his next film project. That next project turned out to be Capote (2005), which was written by Dan Futterman, a longtime friend of Miller’s who had carved out a successful career as an actor. Futterman showed Miller the script, and Miller signed on to direct.

Capturing the life, flair and psychological complexity of Truman Capote, the film was an audience and critical favorite, and brought a flood of accolades to Miller’s doorstep. Capote received Oscar nominations for Best Director, Motion Picture of the Year, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress (Catherine Keener), and, for his portrayal of Truman Capote, Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The film also won Miller several awards on his own, including the Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Filmmaker and Best First Film Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Toronto Film Critics Association.

In short, Miller had turned his first Hollywood film into a ticket to major success in the industry. 

Recent Films

Miller’s third feature film was Moneyball (2011), which starred Brad Pitt and explored the world of data-driven scouting in baseball. The film was another hit, and Miller took home the Hollywood Film Award for Director of the Year.

Three years later, Miller would arrive with his next film, the controversial Foxcatcher. The film focuses on John Du Pont of the wealthy Du Pont family (played by Steve Carell) and his bizarre relationship with Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), Olympic gold medalists in wrestling. The film has raised the ire of Mark Schultz along with questions about its handling of the facts, but Miller won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Directing.

In all, besides the honors Miller has earned for himself, he has directed six actors to Oscar nominations: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Jonah Hill.   

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Bennett Miller at the 2014 Hollywood Film Awards 2014. (Photo: DFree / Shutterstock.com)

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