Photo of Kathryn Bigelow Kathryn Bigelow

A stylish film director whose background as a painter and Whitney Museum fellow seems at odds with the action-fueled fare she's best known for, Kathryn Bigelow was born Nov. 27, 1951, in San Carlos, Calif.

After studying film theory and criticism at Columbia University, Bigelow launched her career as a feature director with The Loveless in 1982 -- a movie that also marked Willem Dafoe's big-screen debut. She went on to direct Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in Point Break (1991) and Ralph Fiennes in Strange Days (1995), and was briefly wed to director James Cameron.

In 2009, after a seven-year absence from filmmaking, Bigelow garnered widespread acclaim for The Hurt Locker, a taut thriller set in war-torn Iraq. The Golden Globe, Oscar and BAFTA nods that followed had her competing against ex-husband Cameron -- who was also nominated for his blockbuster Avatar -- with Bigelow ultimately nabbing the Oscar (the first woman director to win) and the BAFTA award.

Kathryn Bigelow in The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker

2008 R

Kathryn Bigelow directs this gripping drama that follows a U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal team operating in Iraq. Amid the dangers of their work, the squad also contends with the pressures that arise from living in constant peril.

  • Kathryn Bigelow in Zero Dark Thirty Zero Dark Thirty
  • Kathryn Bigelow in Point Break Point Break
  • Kathryn Bigelow in Strange Days Strange Days
  • Kathryn Bigelow in Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese
  • Kathryn Bigelow in The Loveless The Loveless
  • Kathryn Bigelow in Born in Flames Born in Flames
  • Kathryn Bigelow in Wild Palms Wild Palms
  • Kathryn Bigelow in The Weight of Water The Weight of Water
  • Kathryn Bigelow in K-19: The Widowmaker K-19: The Widowmaker