Damien Chazelle: 5 Things to Know About the ‘La La Land’ Director

Making the cut! Hollywood has fallen for La La Land — and it’s all thanks to director Damien Chazelle. The breakout musical has been nominated for a historic 14 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor/Actress for lead stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and Best Original Screenplay.

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La La Land has already racked up several awards, including a Best Director win for Chazelle, 32, at the Golden Globes last month. The movie made history by winning a total of seven categories, surpassing the record of six awards once held by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Midnight Express.

Up next, the cast and crew will try their luck at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 26. Before the big show, Us Weekly rounded up five facts to know about the award-winning filmmaker.

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Damien Chazelle attends the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 8, 2017, in Beverly Hills.
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

1. He is the youngest Best Director winner in Golden Globes history

At 31, Chazelle is the youngest person ever to take home a Best Director win at the Golden Globes — and the first person under 40 to win since American Beauty’s Sam Mendes won the prize in 2000 at the age of 34. The Rhode Island native beat out Tom Ford for Nocturnal Animals, Barry Jenkins for Moonlight, Mel Gibson for Hacksaw Ridge and Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea.

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2. He is already an Academy Award–nominated director

In 2014, Chazelle wrote and directed his second feature film, Whiplash, which went on to receive five Oscar nominations (taking home three). Chazelle himself received a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Since 2007, every Golden Globes Best Director winner has gone on to win the Oscar (with the only exception being Ben Affleck for 2012’s Argo) so it is likely that Chazelle will continue to shine throughout award season.

3. He used to be in a band with Best Original Song winner Justin Hurwitz

“I think the thing I was most excited about was getting to see Justin, who I went to college [Harvard University] with and met in a college band and talked about movies with, to see him on that stage,” Entertainment Weekly reported Chazelle said backstage of the composer, who won for “City of Stars,” adding, “I think maybe that was actually the single greatest moment for me.”

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4. He has worked on other popular films — including two scary flicks!

Though widely known for La La Land and Whiplash, the Ivy Leaguer has other impressive credits to his name. He cowrote the Last Exorcism Part II, Grand Piano and 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Emma Stone Damien Chazelle Ryan Gosling
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon

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5. He is currently off the market — and has a working relationship with his ex!

Chazelle’s date to the Golden Globes was his girlfriend, actress Olivia Hamilton, but his ex-wife Jasmine McGlade executive-produced the film. McGlade was quietly given a last-minute credit in early December, shortly before the film’s December 9 release.


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