Drawing on the outsider view that, as he once asserted, arose from his New Zealand roots, Andrew Niccol established his reputation as a writer/director with a gift for exploring techno-paranoia and isolation in Gattaca (1997) and The Truman Show (1998).
Born and raised in New Zealand, Niccol learned the filmmaking craft as a TV commercial director in Great Britain. After making ads for ten years, Niccol decided to relocate to Hollywood in order to make movies that "lasted longer than 60 seconds." Though he wrote the screenplay for The Truman Show before Gattaca, it was the latter film that became Niccol's Hollywood debut as a writer as well as director. A sleek tale of the near future and the troubling reach of science, Gattaca pitted imperfect, naturally birthed, wannabe astronaut Ethan Hawke against a system that favored the genetically engineered perfection aptly embodied by Uma Thurman and Jude Law. Though critics and the Academy admired Gattaca's visual craft and intelligence, American audiences were less than taken with its measured tone and philosophical bent; Niccol's freshman effort was better received in Europe.