Samantha "Sam" Taylor-Johnson (born Samantha Taylor; 4 March 1967), known professionally as Sam Taylor-Wood, is an English filmmaker, photographer and visual artist. Her directorial feature film debut came in 2009 with Nowhere Boy, a film based on the childhood experiences of the Beatles songwriter and singer John Lennon. She is one of a group of artists known as the Young British Artists. She is married to English actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
Taylor-Wood began exhibiting fine art photography in the early-1990s. One collaboration with Henry Bond, titled 26 October 1993, featured Bond and Taylor-Wood reprising the roles of Yoko Ono and John Lennon in a pastiche of the photo-portrait made—by photographer Annie Leibovitz—a few hours before Lennon was assassinated, in 1980.
In 1994, she exhibited a multi-screen video work titled Killing Time, in which four people mimed to an opera score. From that point multi-screen video works became the main focus of Taylor-Wood's work. Beginning with the video works Travesty of a Mockery and Pent-Up in 1996. One of Taylor-Wood's first United Kingdom solo shows was held at the Chisenhale Gallery, east London, in September–October 1996. Taylor-Wood was nominated for the annual Turner Prize in 1998, but lost out to the painter Chris Ofili. She won the Illy Café Prize for Most Promising Young Artist at the 1997 Venice Biennale.
In 2000, Taylor-Wood created a wraparound, photomural around scaffolding of the London department store Selfridges while it was being restored; the mural featured 21 cultural icons including Elton John, musician Alex James and actors Richard E. Grant and Ray Winstone. The poses of the figures referenced famous works of art from the past and recent movies.
In 2002, Taylor-Wood was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery to make a video portrait of David Beckham—whom she depicted sleeping. She is perhaps best known for her work entitled 'Crying Men' which features many of Hollywood's glitterati crying, including Robin Williams, Sean Penn, Laurence Fishburne and Paul Newman. In 2006, Taylor-Wood had a survey exhibition at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, United Kingdom.
In August 2008, Taylor-Wood was chosen to direct Nowhere Boy, a biopic about the childhood of The Beatles' singer, John Lennon.
Speaking about her experience directing the film, in September 2010, Taylor-Wood said,
I thought, I'm in too deep and if I mess this up I'm just never gonna make a film again, and I went into a panic. I got into the car and said, I just have to call these producers and pull out. I got into the car and I put the key into the ignition and Lennon's voice came straight out of the radio and it was Starting Over. It was one of those moments where I thought it was a sign: OK I'm gonna do it.
The 53rd annual London Film Festival screened the film as its closing presentation on 29 October 2009. The film was released in the UK on Boxing Day, 2009. Charles Gant, writing in The Guardian—three weeks after the film's national release—said that the film had "extremely disappointing receipts". Taylor-Wood was nominated for a BAFTAaward on 21 January 2010, but lost out to Duncan Jones.
In 2006, Taylor-Wood contributed the short film Death Valley to the British version of Destricted. In 2008, Taylor-Wood directed a short film Love You More, written by Patrick Marber and produced by Anthony Minghella. The film includes two songs by the Buzzcocks and features a cameo appearance by the band's lead singer Pete Shelley. In February 2009, Taylor-Wood, collaborating with Sky Arts chose to interpret "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci. She commented: "I’m really happy to be involved in such a great project. I think by capturing one of opera's most moving moments in a film short, we have put a modern spin on the aria." In 2011, she directed the music video of "Überlin" by R.E.M.. The clip stars her fiance Aaron Johnson, who, "throws some kung-fu kicks, attempts some pirouettes, prances, punches the air, chicken walks, tries out some bunny impressions, and, at one point, fondles his bottom."
In October 2008, she released a dance track in Germany: Sam Taylor-Wood Produced By Pet Shop Boys: "I'm in Love with a German Film Star" including four remixes on CD and vinyl. It failed to chart.
In September 2011, she collaborated with Solange Azagury-Partridge on the short film Daydream. This was aired to support the launch of Azagury-Partridge's new jewellery collection, 24:7. Under the direction of Taylor-Wood, Liberty Ross plays a beautiful woman in her bedroom, bejewelled by her lover, played by JJ Feild. The original music was composed by Oscar winner Atticus Ross, and the director of photography was BAFTA winner John Mathieson.
From a list that included Angelina Jolie, Steven Soderbergh, Joe Wright, and Gus Van Sant, Taylor-Wood was chosen to direct the film adaptation of E. L. James' best-selling erotic novel, Fifty Shades of Grey to be made by Universal Pictures and Focus Features.