- After graduating from college, spent two years in Bolivia as part of the Peace Corps.
- While filming his time in Bolivia, fell in love with the medium and gave up his desire to study law.
- Earned two local Emmys in the 1970s for his work as an investigative reporter for KCET in Los Angeles.
- Made his big-screen directorial debut in 1980 with the rock biopic The Idolmaker.
- Scored his biggest hit as a director with the 1982 romance An Officer and a Gentleman.
- Met his wife, actor Helen Mirren, on the set of his 1985 drama White Nights.
- Has become known for his documentary profiles and biopics, including the acclaimed Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987) and the Oscar-winning Ray (2004).
- Succeed Michael Apted as president of the Directors Guild of America in 2009.
- 1982, Directors Guild of America Awards — Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film: Nominee
- 2005, Critics' Choice Awards — Best Director: Nominee
- 2004, Directors Guild of America Awards — Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film: Nominee
- 1978, Oscar — Best Short Film, Live Action: Winner
- 2006, Directors Guild of America Awards — Robert B. Aldrich Service Award: Winner
- 1997, Independent Spirit Awards — Truer Than Fiction Award: Winner
- 2004, Oscar — Best Achievement in Directing: Nominee
- 2004, Oscar — Best Motion Picture of the Year: Nominee
- Lynne Littman — Ex-wife
- Mary Hackford — Mother
- Helen Mirren — Wife
- Alexander — Son
- Georgie Lowres — Ex-wife
- Rio Hackford — Son
- Joseph Hackford — Father
- University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, United States (BA in International Relations, 1967)
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