Rob Marshall began his career as a dancer on Broadway in shows such as Cats and Zorba. He soon rose through the ranks to become dance captain, and was first put to work as a choreographer when he was asked to provide additional choreography for the Broadway hit Kiss of the Spider Woman. That led to work on the Tony-award winning Broadway production of She Loves Me, and Marshall received an Olivier award nomination or his choreography when the show subsequently ran in London.
He next took on the 1994 Broadway revival of Damn Yankees, which earned him another Olivier nomination when that production moved to London. More Broadway stage musicals followed, including A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum starring Nathan Lane, for which Marshall received an Outer Critics Circle nomination, and Victor/Victoria starring Julie Andrews.
His vibrant dance moves didn't go unnoticed by television executives. When they were looking for a choreographer for the Christmas musical Mrs. Santa Claus, starring Angela Lansbury, Marshall got the nod. In 1997, he was nominated for an Emmy award for his efforts and was soon put to work on the television musical version of Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997) for Disney/ABC. Marshall again received an Emmy nomination.
Marshall returned to Broadway in 1998 to make his directorial debut as co-director, as well as choreographer of the revival of Cabaret, starring Alan Cumming. The show made a star of Cumming, who subsequently made the leap to film stardom (first appearing in Marshall’s TV directing debut, Annie, as Rooster Hannigan) and won numerous awards. For his choreography and direction, Marshall received Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle nominations. He went on to choreograph and direct Neil Simon’s Little Me (again receiving a slew of nominations) and Promises, Promises.
Having gained valuable experience as a musical director, Marshall returned to television to direct and choreograph a brand new version of the Broadway musical Annie (1999) for Disney/ABC. The film earned the highest ratings of any made-for-TV movie shown in 1999, and was more faithful to the Broadway musical than the controversial 1992 feature. Marshall received two nominations—one for director and one for choreography, taking home the award for "Outstanding Choreography" as well as an American Choreography Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Television - Variety or Special."
Executive producer and co-founder of Miramax films, Harvey Weinstein, whose children loved Marshall's Annie and watched the TV movie over and over again, asked to meet with Marshall to talk about various musical features that were in the planning stages. Weinstein had several movie musicals in mind, but first and foremost was his dream of putting the hit stage musical Chicago onto the big screen. Marshall, who had already won a Dramalogue award for his work on the Los Angeles production of Chicago, agreed to take on the project, which was to be filmed in Toronto.
The film was a huge success, earning numerous awards around the world, including Golden Globes for two of the stars, Renée Zellweger and Richard Gere, as well as an award for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.
Marshall subsequently took on the drama Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)and the musical Nine (2009) before landing the plum job as the director of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, On Stranger Tides (2011), which may prove to be his biggest box office hit yet. In 2010, he won a Costume Designers Guild Award for Distinguished Director Collaborator.