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Lana and Lilly Wachowski
The Wachowski Brothers (before 2010), The Wachowskis
|Occupation||Film and television directors, writers, producers|
|Known for||American film and TV director sisters|
Alisa Blasingame ( m. 1991)
Lana Wachowski (born Laurence "Larry" Wachowski; June 21, 1965) and Lilly Wachowski (born Andrew Paul "Andy" Wachowski; December 29, 1967) are American film and TV directors, writers, and producers. The sisters are both trans women. Collectively known as The Wachowskis[a] (//), they have worked as a writing and directing team through most of their professional film careers.
They made their directing debut in 1996 with Bound, and achieved fame with their second film The Matrix (1999), a major box office success for which they won the Saturn Award for Best Director. They wrote and directed its two sequels: The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions (both in 2003), and were involved in the writing and production of other works in that franchise.
Following the commercial success of The Matrix series, they wrote and produced the 2005 film V for Vendetta (an adaptation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore), and in 2008 released the film Speed Racer, a live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime series. Their next film, Cloud Atlas, based on the novel by David Mitchell and co-written and co-directed by Tom Tykwer, was released in 2012. Their film Jupiter Ascending and the Netflix series Sense8, which they co-created with J. Michael Straczynski, both debuted in 2015; the second season of Sense8 in 2016 was Lana's first major creative undertaking without Lilly, who took a break for it.
Lana was born Laurence Wachowski in Chicago in 1965; Lilly was born Andrew Paul Wachowski two and a half years later, in 1967. Their mother Lynne (née Luckinbill) was a nurse and painter. Their father Ron Wachowski was a businessman of Polish descent. Their uncle is the actor and Primetime Emmy Award-winning producer Laurence Luckinbill. They have two sisters: Julie and Laura. Julie was credited as assistant coordinator in the Wachowskis' film Bound; she is a novelist and screenwriter.
The Wachowskis attended the Kellogg Elementary School in Chicago's Beverly area, and they graduated from Whitney Young High School, known for its performing arts and science curriculum, in 1983 and 1985 respectively, in both cases under their birth names. Former classmates recall their playing Dungeons & Dragons and working in the school's theater and TV program.
After dropping out of college, the Wachowskis ran a house painting and construction business in Chicago. Beginning in 1993 they wrote several issues of Ectokid for Marvel Comics' Razorline imprint (created by horror novelist Clive Barker), which were credited to Lana. They also wrote for the series Clive Barker's Hellraiser and Clive Barker's Nightbreed for Marvel's Epic Comics imprint.
In the mid-1990s they went into film writing, including the script for Assassins in 1994, which was directed by Richard Donner and released in 1995. Warner Bros. bought the script and included two more pictures in the contract. Donner had their script "totally rewritten" by Brian Helgeland and the Wachowskis tried unsuccessfully to remove their names from the film. They say the experience gave them the perspective that they should become directors or "[they will] never survive as writers in this town".
Their next project was the 1996 neo-noir thriller Bound, for which they wrote the script and made their debut as directors. The film was well received for its style and craft, and was noted as one of the first mainstream films to feature a same-sex relationship without it being central to the plot. Taking advantage of the positive buzz, the Wachowskis asked to direct their next picture, The Matrix.
J. Michael Straczynski, who has worked with the Wachowskis on Ninja Assassin and Sense8, has said that the sisters told him they were reading his column on scriptwriting for the Writer's Digest magazine, for inspiration and pointers. Straczynski contributed to the magazine from 1981 to 1991.
In 1998, in the context of explaining how they got their start in filmmaking, the Wachowskis mentioned Roger Corman's book, How I Made A Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime, and indicated, with laughter, that they liked his movies, and began by wanting to "make a low-budget horror movie." In the same interview, they expressed being flattered, after their first film, by comparisons to the Coen brothers, who had "made five, maybe six great movies…" at that time.
Speaking to Bernard Weintraub of The New York Times in April 1999, the Wachowskis mention explicitly preparing for their first Matrix production by studying the works of John Woo "and other Hong Kong filmmakers", as well as reading and rereading Homer's Odyssey, and studying the works of John Huston, Stanley Kubrick, Fritz Lang, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, and Billy Wilder.
Mark Miller, writing in Wired in 2003, also listed Homer, Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and philosopher Cornel West. In an interview with Gadfly in 2004 (after their first movie), the Wachowskis reiterated their influence by or enjoyment of Huston (e.g. Treasure of the Sierra Madre) and Wilder (e.g., Sunset Boulevard and Lost Weekend), and added to these the impacts of Alfred Hitchcock (e.g. Strangers on a Train and Psycho), Roman Polanski (e.g. Repulsion), and Francis Ford Coppola (the Godfather movies, and The Conversation).
The Matrix franchise
They completed The Matrix, a science fiction action film, in 1999. The movie stars Keanu Reeves as Neo, a hacker recruited by a rebellion to aid them in the fight against machines who have taken over the world and placed humanity inside a simulated reality called "the Matrix". Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano also star. The movie was a critical and commercial hit for Warner Bros. It won four Academy Awards, including for "Best Visual Effects" for popularizing the bullet time visual effect. The Matrix came to be a major influence for action movies and has appeared in several "greatest science fiction films" lists. In 2012, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant."
After its success, the Wachowskis directed two sequels back-to-back, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both released in 2003. The Matrix Reloaded received positive critical reception, although not on the level of the original. It became a major box office hit, retaining the spot of the highest-grossing R-rated film for over a decade (until 2016's Deadpool). The Matrix Revolutions received a mixed critical reception and performed lukewarmly in the box office. While it was profitable it made slightly less money than the original film.
During production of the first film, the Wachowskis and Spencer Lamm, who ran the film's official website, developed comics based on the setting of the film, which were published free of charge on the website. These and a few short stories were released in three series from 1999 to 2003, with several of them (along with new material) collected in two print volumes in 2003 and 2004. The Wachowskis themselves contributed "Bits and Pieces", a prequel to the movie that explains the origins of the Matrix, featuring illustrations by Geof Darrow, the movie's conceptual designer. Other writers and artists that contributed to the series include Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, Paul Chadwick, Ted McKeever, Poppy Z. Brite, and Steve Skroce.
After Lilly Wachowski came out, she encouraged looking back on her and Lana's works through a lens of their transness. The themes of identity, self-image and transformation are apparent in The Matrix. These underlying themes help understand how a person's struggle and acceptance of identity is defined beyond the accepted borders of a system.
The Wachowskis' next feature film was V for Vendetta, an adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel of the same name, starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. The Wachowskis wrote and produced the film with Matrix producer Joel Silver, who had previously purchased the film rights to the graphic novel. The Wachowskis offered the film to James McTeigue, the first assistant director of The Matrix trilogy, as his directorial debut. Moore did not participate in the production, as he was disappointed by previous Hollywood adaptations of his work, and disagreed with differences between the screenplay and his graphic novel. Following a statement to the press by Silver that Moore was supposedly excited to learn more about the movie, Moore demanded from Silver to retract it and when the latter didn't comply Moore had his name removed from the credits. The film's controversial storyline and themes have been both criticized and praised by sociopolitical groups. It was released in 2005 and was well received critically; it was a box office success but did not rank on the scale of The Matrix films. The film popularized the image of the Guy Fawkes mask, as the version designed by David Lloyd for the graphic novel and used in the movie was adopted as a symbol by the online hacktivist group Anonymous two years later.
In 2006, Silver had the Wachowskis and McTeigue hired to revamp The Invasion for Warner Bros. The studio was disappointed in the film as produced by director Oliver Hirschbiegel and hired the Wachowskis to rewrite a portion of the script and add new action scenes, which McTeigue directed. The film, the fourth adaptation of the novel The Body Snatchers, was released in 2007 and was not a critical or box office success. The Wachowskis and McTeigue are not credited on the film.
The Wachowskis returned to directing with Speed Racer (2008) which starred Emile Hirsch. The film, which was again produced by Silver, was an adaptation of a 1960s Japanese manga series originally called Mach GoGoGo, which had previously been adapted as an anime television series in 1967. The Wachowskis were attracted to the project because the series was the first anime they had watched and they wanted to make a family friendly film for their nieces and nephews to enjoy. In an effort to simulate the look of anime in live action the Wachowskis had cinematographer David Tattersall shoot the movie digitally on a digital backlot with the intention of adding extensive visual effects in post-production. The movie was considered a critical and commercial disappointment. While its special effects were noted as outstanding, the storyline is considered lacking. It was nominated in the category of "Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel" for the 29th Golden Raspberry Awards. Its box office gross was $93 million compared to a production budget of $120 million. Since then, critics periodically have put the film on lists of underrated or cult films.
The Wachowskis' next film project was Ninja Assassin, a martial arts film starring Rain that was released in 2009. It was produced by the Wachowskis in their last involvement with Silver and directed by McTeigue and it was inspired by Rain's fighting scene in Speed Racer. The screenplay was written by Matthew Sand and J. Michael Straczynski, who the Wachowskis called 6 weeks before filming to ask him for a complete rewrite completed within a week, because they were dissatisfied with the earlier drafts and were running out of time. Ninja Assassin received negative reviews and performed lukewarmly in the theaters but respectably on home video.
Their next directorial outing was Cloud Atlas, which was adapted from David Mitchell's 2004 novel of the same name and starred an ensemble cast which included Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Cloud Atlas was written and directed in collaboration with German filmmaker Tom Tykwer to whom the Wachowskis had introduced the novel several years earlier. The filmmakers failed to secure funding from a studio (save for $20 million by Warner Bros.) and was produced independently after much trouble. With a budget of over $100 million it was noted as the most expensive independent movie to that date and the first attempt at a German blockbuster. The movie opened at the 37th annual Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012 to acclaim and received a loud and lengthy standing ovation. In its general release a month later, it received polarizing reviews and eventually appeared in both "Best Film" and "Worst Film" lists. Overall reviews were mixed to positive. The film received many nominations and awards, particularly for its technical aspects, including ten nominations in the German Film Awards out of which it won five and five Saturn Award nominations out of which it won two. In contrast to Moore's aversion to the script and production of V for Vendetta, David Mitchell liked the script of Cloud Atlas, spent some time on the set (including filming a cameo) and had a positive impression about the end result. According to the Wachowskis the movie was the hardest of their films to make, the one they are the most proud of, and the one they have been told has touched people's lives the most. They believe Cloud Atlas will be the film they will be remembered for.
The Wachowskis subsequently produced and directed Jupiter Ascending, an original space opera screenplay they wrote. The film was released in 2015. It stars Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, and features the Wachowskis' regular collaborators John Gaeta on visual effects and Kym Barrett on costumes. According to Deadline, the financial and critical failure of Jupiter Ascending caused their business relationship with Warner Bros. that began with The Matrix franchise to be terminated.
Their next project was the Netflix science fiction drama series Sense8, created and written with J. Michael Straczynski. Sense8 features an international ensemble cast and it is shot in a multitude of cities around the world. The Wachowskis directed most of the episodes of the first season with the rest being handled by McTeigue, Tykwer and their go-to visual effects supervisor on their movies, Dan Glass, on his directorial debut. The first season premiered in 2015 to generally positive reviews particularly for the scale of the production and the presentation of diverse and LGBT characters and themes, winning the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series. It has also received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music. A Christmas special was released December 23, 2016 with the remainder of the show's second season released in May 2017. Subsequently, the third season was cancelled, and Sense8 concluded with a two-hour finale which aired in June 2018.
In January 2019, Deadline reported that Lilly was to executive produce, co-write, and co-direct a drama series called Work in Progress, based on a pilot of the same name by Abby McEnany and Tim Mason.
The Wachowskis admit to a love for telling multi-part stories. "Because we grew up on comic books and the Tolkien trilogy, one of the things we're interested in is bringing serial fiction to cinema," Lana has said. Lilly says: "We think movies are fairly boring and predictable. We want to screw with audiences' expectations." In terms of themes expressed in their body of work, Lana has cited "the inexplicable nature of the universe [being] in constant dialogue with our own consciousness and our consciousness actually affect[ing] the inexplicable nature of the universe", "interconnectivity and about truth beneath the surface", "the paradox of choice and choicelessness", "transcendence ... transcending archetypal boxes, stereotypes", "race ... an important component" and "gender ... it's one of our most significant cultural subjects".
The Wachowskis cited the art of comic book artist Geof Darrow as an influence on the look of The Matrix. Also, they said that Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, and Akira were anime that inspired them, saying "in anime, one thing that they do that we tried to bring to our film was a juxtaposition of time and space in action beats".
Lana has most been influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Ma vie en rose, and My Neighbor Totoro. Both Wachowskis are fans of the Ghost in the Shell, Akira, Wicked City, Ninja Scroll and Fist of the North Star anime films.
None of the home video releases of their films feature any deleted scenes. Lana says that despite often having to cut scenes from their movies, they do not want to include deleted scenes in such releases, as this would suggest that their films suffer from incompleteness. They love their finished products and believe them complete. For the same reason, they have not released their films for home video with director's or extended cuts. They also avoid recording audio commentary tracks, having participated only on the track recorded for the LaserDisc of Bound. The sisters say they learned that offering an interpretation of their movies means that viewers will be less likely to express their own interpretation.
The Wachowskis frequently hire the same basic film crew to make their movies. Lana says they do it in part to ensure a positive environment. "It's like family. Everyone is very respectful of each other," says Lana. They used the same practice while selecting the television crew for their Netflix show, Sense8.
Some of their most notable frequent collaborators are:
|Crew member||Bound||The Matrix||The Matrix Reloaded||The Matrix Revolutions||Speed Racer||Cloud Atlas||Jupiter Ascending||Sense8||Roles||Notes|
|Kym Barrett||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Costume designer||Also credited in Enter the Matrix.|
|Hugh Bateup||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Production designer, (supervising) art director|
|Alexander Berner||Yes||Yes||Film editor|
|Geof Darrow||Yes||Yes||Yes||Uncredited||Uncredited||Uncredited||Conceptual designer, conceptual artist||Also worked on Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending.
Founded Burlyman Entertainment along with the Wachowskis and Steve Skroce and worked on Shaolin Cowboy, Doc Frankenstein and The Matrix Comics.
|Dane Davis||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Sound designer, supervising sound editor||Also credited in The Animatrix, Ninja Assassin and Enter the Matrix.|
|Don Davis||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Composer||Also credited in The Animatrix, Enter the Matrix and The Matrix Online.|
|John Gaeta||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Visual effects supervisor, visual effects designer||Also credited in Ninja Assassin, Enter the Matrix and The Matrix Comics.|
|Dan Glass||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Visual effects supervisor, TV episode director||Directed an episode of Sense8. Also credited in V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin and Enter the Matrix.|
|Grant Hill||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Producer, executive producer, unit production manager||Also credited in V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin and Enter the Matrix.|
|James McTeigue||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||First assistant director, second unit director, TV episode director||Also worked on The Invasion and Enter the Matrix.
Also director of the Wachowski-produced V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin.
|Owen Paterson||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Production designer||Also credited in V for Vendetta and Enter the Matrix.|
|Bill Pope||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Director of photography||Also credited in Enter the Matrix. Pope says he hasn't been asked to work again with the Wachowskis since a fall out they had during The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.|
|Joel Silver||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Producer||Also producer of Assassins, The Animatrix (executive producer), V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin, Enter the Matrix and The Matrix Online.
According to a March 2017 article by The Hollywood Reporter, Silver has a strained relationship with the Wachowskis.
|Steve Skroce||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Uncredited||Uncredited||Uncredited||Storyboard artist||Also worked on Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending and Sense8.
Also credited in V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin. Founded Burlyman Entertainment along with the Wachowskis and Geof Darrow, and worked on Ectokid, Doc Frankenstein, and The Matrix Comics.
|Zach Staenberg||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Film editor||Also credited in Enter the Matrix, The Matrix: Path of Neo.|
|Ethan Stoller||Yes||Yes||Yes||Music consultant, music editor, composer||Also provided music for the extras in the home video releases of Speed Racer and was credited in V for Vendetta, Ninja Assassin and Google Me Love.
He has known the Wachowskis since high school.
|John Toll||Yes||Yes||Yes||Director of photography, executive producer|
|Tom Tykwer||Yes||Yes||Yes||Composer, co-writer, co-director, TV episode director|
|Jeremy Woodhead||Yes||Yes||Yes||Makeup, hair and prosthetics designer||Also credited in V for Vendetta and Ninja Assassin.|
|Cast member||Bound||The Matrix trilogy||Speed Racer||Cloud Atlas||Jupiter Ascending||Sense8||Notes|
(Part 1 only)
|Hugo Weaving||Yes||Yes||Also starred in V for Vendetta, made an appearance in Enter the Matrix and was credited in The Matrix: Path of Neo for the use of clips from The Matrix films in which he featured.|
As film producers and comic book publishers
During The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, The Animatrix and Enter the Matrix production, the Wachowskis created EON Entertainment (not to be confused with Eon Productions), their production company to coordinate and direct all involved partners. It is also where the films were edited together, after the various FX vendors sent their finished work. EON's internal VFX team, ESC, did a number of visual effect shots for the two Matrix sequels and coordinated the other vendors. ESC was shut down in summer 2004. Anarchos Productions (credited in Cloud Atlas as Anarchos Pictures) is their production company that has been billed for all their films starting with V for Vendetta up to the first season of Sense8. In the second season and following Lilly's break from the show, Anarchos is replaced by Venus Castina Productions, a production company created by Lana Wachowski and her wife, Karin Winslow. Venus Castina is an epithet of the Roman goddess Venus, who in this form, was supposedly associated with "the yearnings of feminine souls locked up in male bodies". In the Sense8 series finale, the real book Venus Castina: Famous female impersonators celestial and human makes an appearance as the unlikely object that brought a lesbian couple together; according to Lana and the actresses that portray the couple, the duo have been based on Lana and Karin.
Kinowerks is their pre- and post-production and effects studio, based in the Ravenswood neighbourhood of Chicago. It has been acclaimed for its green-friendly design, including solar panels, a planted roof, countertops and floors made of recycled materials, plug-in car stations, a water reuse and filtration system, skylights, and a pneumatic elevator. Roger Ebert was invited to watch a restored print of The Godfather in the Kinowerks facilities and met the Wachowskis, but he was oblivious to the fact the studio belonged to them. The Chicago Tribune's Christopher Pirelli, the facility is very low-key: "an industrial building that appears neither old nor especially new" and "It could be an upscale dentist's office" while the "inside is rather unexpected" and has numerous mementos of past film projects. On October 22, 2018, the Wachowskis announced their plans to close and list Kinowerks for $5 million.
Prior to working in the film industry, the Wachowskis wrote comic books for Marvel Comics' Razorline imprint, namely Ectokid (created by horror novelist Clive Barker) in 1993 as well as writing for Epic Comics' Clive Barker's Hellraiser and Clive Barker's Nightbreed comic series.
- Shaolin Cowboy – created, written, and drawn by Geof Darrow (the Wachowskis contributed the opening dialogue to each issue)
- Doc Frankenstein – created by Geof Darrow and Steve Skroce, written by the Wachowskis, with art by Skroce.
The Wachowskis' first script was a thriller called Carnivore. It has been described as "a Corman-style, low-budget horror movie that dealt with cannibalism or, more specifically, rich people being eaten by cannibals". The writing was well received and the script made the duo noticed, although interest in making the movie was low as executives told them "This is a bad idea. I can't make this. I'm rich." Years later, on April 6, 1999, a week after The Matrix opened in American theaters, Variety reported Trimark was looking to buy the script and were in talks with George Romero to direct it with production scheduled to begin in August. In April 2001, news of the Wachowskis producing it for Lionsgate and looking for a director surfaced again, and in August 2003 a second time, with their go-to cinematographer Bill Pope rumored to be making his directorial debut with it. The film ultimately went unproduced.
Another two of their earliest scripts which were never produced were Plastic Man, based on the DC Comics superhero of the same name and Vertical Run based on the book of the same name by Joseph R. Garber.
After completing The Matrix, the Wachowskis were looking to make an animated adaptation of Frank Miller's Hard Boiled graphic novel. The comic was drawn by Geof Darrow, the conceptional designer of The Matrix and later its sequels. The project didn't move forward because Miller didn't want it to be an animated film.
In November 2000, Variety reported the Wachowskis would produce, co-create and direct second unit on a new Conan the Barbarian movie for Warner Bros. which was to be written and directed by John Milius and which could see Arnold Schwarzenegger make an appearance. The Wachowskis were planning to juggle their pre-production involvement on the movie and work on The Matrix sequels at the same time. In January 2004 it was reported that development on King Conan: Crown of Iron had stalled for years because of the Wachowskis' involvement in The Matrix sequels and now that the movies were complete they decided to abandon the project of their own volition because of the frequent clashes they had experienced with Milius concerning the tone and direction of the movie. Lana once suggested Conan the Barbarian as her favorite movie based on comics to which Lilly also responded enthusiastically.
In 2008, the Wachowskis were producing for Madhouse an animated film based on their comic book company's Shaolin Cowboy, titled Shaolin Cowboy in The Tomb of Doom. The feature is co-directed by the comic book's creator Geof Darrow and Seiji Mizushima, a Japanese director. When the American financiers backed out, the film was left half-finished and in need of $3 million. Darrow does not believe that the required amount of money to finish it will be found.
In December 2009, Arianna Huffington tweeted pictures of herself on the set of "a Wachowskis movie on Iraq from the perspective of the future". CHUD.com reported what the Wachowskis were doing was camera tests and shooting of test footage on the Red digital camera for a future movie, but not shooting the movie itself. In March 2010, Jesse Ventura said he had also shot for the project right before Huffington. Both of them were dressed as people from roughly 100 years in the future and they were asked to improvise without a script about the Iraq War. In May 2010, Deadline reported the movie was going to be a hard-R story that would begin in the future but move back to the then-current war in Iraq and center on the homosexual relationship between an American soldier and an Iraqi. The Wachowskis completed the script and were searching for funding to direct it. In July 2010, the movie was reported to have begun casting under the codename CN9 (or CN-9), and in August 2010 the full name was revealed as Cobalt Neural 9. In September 2010, Vulture posted additional details about the script and revealed the movie would be told in found footage-style from the perspective of digital archaeologists from the future. An estimated $20 million budget was reported although they were told a studio would "never, ever" finance it but perhaps the Wachowskis could do it themselves. In December 2010, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Salman Rushdie and Cornel West had also shot talking head sequences along with the previously reported involvement of Huffington and Ventura but the Wachowskis were looking into other movies because of troubles financing it. In September 2012, Aleksandar Hemon wrote about the making of Cloud Atlas and recalled he too was one of the people the Wachowskis had invited to interview in December 2009, to help inspire the script of Cobalt Neural 9. The last update on the film was in October 2012, when the Wachowskis were asked about it and they responded they were still keen to make it, because they had invested both financially ($5 million) and emotionally into it, even if that ends up being in a different form than film.
In December 2010, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the Wachowskis were planning to direct for Warner Bros. a script of theirs called Hood, which was a modern adaptation of the Robin Hood legend. The Wachowskis were said to be reaching out to actors, including Will Smith.
Lilly has been married to Alisa Blasingame since 1991. Lana married Thea Bloom in 1993; they divorced in 2002. Lana subsequently began dating Karin Winslow; they married in 2009. Winslow is a board member of the Chicago House and Social Service Agency.
Raised by a "hardcore atheist" father and an "ex-Catholic turned Shamanist" mother, the duo once described their religious beliefs as non-denominational (Christians). Lana is a vegetarian. During the Democratic Party presidential primaries of 2016, The Advocate posted a video message of Lana talking about why she would be supporting Bernie Sanders.
Lana's gender transition
Rumors that Lana Wachowski was transitioning spread in the early 2000s, though neither sibling spoke directly on the subject at the time. In 2003, Gothamist.com reported the possible transition. In a 2007 interview Joel Silver, the producer of numerous Wachowski films, said that the rumors concerning the transition were "all untrue", saying that "they just don't do interviews, so people make things up." Crew members working on Speed Racer said similarly.
In a September 2012 interview with Aleksander Hemon of The New Yorker, Lana discussed the confusion of early life. She described an incident in third grade at Catholic School when she was hesitant to join the boys' line and unconsciously accepted herself as belonging to the girls’.
Lana completed her transition after Speed Racer's release in 2008, and by at least December 2010, trade magazines and newspapers referred to her as "Lana Wachowski", and to the duo as "Andy and Lana Wachowski." On some documents her name is shown as Laurenca Wachowski. In July 2012, Lana made her first public appearance after transitioning, in a video discussing the creative process behind Cloud Atlas. Lana is the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender.
In October 2012, Lana Wachowski received the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award. In her acceptance speech, she revealed that once during her youth, she had considered committing suicide because of her feelings of confusion about identity. Her acceptance speech was one of the longest public appearances by either of the notoriously reclusive sisters. Lana said that, although she and Lilly had not publicly commented on her transitioning during the previous decade, it was not because she was ashamed of it, nor had she kept it a secret from her family and friends. Rather, she stated, the two are generally shy about the news media and prefer to maintain their privacy. Comparing media exposure to losing one's virginity as an irreversible event that only happens once, the Wachowskis had tried to stay out of the public eye. They feared losing their privacy and the ability to go to public places without being noticed and harassed as celebrities.
Explaining her decision to appear at the HRC event, Lana said,
There are some things we do for ourselves, but there are some things we do for others. I am here because when I was young, I wanted very badly to be a writer, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I couldn't find anyone like me in the world and it felt like my dreams were foreclosed simply because my gender was less typical than others. If I can be that person for someone else, then the sacrifice of my private civic life may have value.
Lilly's gender transition
In March 2016, Lilly Wachowski also came out as a transgender woman, issuing a statement to the Windy City Times after a visit from a reporter from the Daily Mail newspaper, who had attempted to get an interview with her about it. In that article, she said, "I am one of the lucky ones. Having the support of my family and the means to afford doctors and therapists has given me the chance to actually survive this process. Transgender people without support, means and privilege do not have this luxury. And many do not survive."
Her first public appearance following transition was a few weeks later, at the 27th GLAAD Media Awards, where she accepted an award for her Netflix series Sense8 for Outstanding Drama Series. She said, "I didn't feel obligated to be here, but I wanted to do something. And it's serendipitous that the awards were a couple of weeks later and our show was up for an award."
Lana and Lilly are self-proclaimed gamers. As teens they spent their weekends in the attic playing Dungeons & Dragons. They liken the process of their playing parties to their process of filmmaking. Along with some of their friends, they wrote a 350-page role-playing game of their own, called High Adventure.
On the video game front, they had been exchanging letters with Hideo Kojima and met him during a Famitsu interview in late 1999. Metal Gear Solid was the first video game they played after finishing work on The Matrix. Candidates for an adaptation of the first Matrix movie to video game form included Kojima, Bungie and Shiny Entertainment, whose Messiah PC game impressed them. Shiny's David Perry, who ultimately had his company develop and collaborate with them on the Enter the Matrix and The Matrix: Path of Neo video games, was impressed with their familiarity with the medium; this proved helpful during development. The Wachowskis owned both a PlayStation 2 and Xbox video game console and played several games such as Splinter Cell and Halo 2. They reportedly destroyed their Xbox during a Halo deathmatch. Actor Collin Chou recounts an instance of visiting their office and finding them playing video games on the floor. Lilly is a fan of the Death Jr. PlayStation Portable game.
Asked about their feelings about turning the tightly controlled Matrix saga to the unpredictable form of an MMORPG with The Matrix Online, the duo appeared enthusiastic about the nature and possibilities of video games:
The "vagaries of an MMO where unpredictable player behavior is the rule," is the reason for doing it. Our films were never intended for a passive audience. There are enough of those kinds of films being made. We wanted our audience to have to work, to have to think, to have to actually participate in order to enjoy them. This may be because while we enjoy movies, we also spend a lot of time (as in crack-den amounts of time) gaming.
Gaming engages your mind actively whereas most genre films (the films we tend to watch) are designed to provoke as little thinking as possible. Consider why the films in which everyone knows exactly what is going to happen are the films that make the most money.
Yet the fact that The Matrix films are three of the most successful adult films in history (despite of what much of the media would have us believe), suggests that there are other people like us. Those are the people, the people who thought about it, who worked at it, who we ultimately made the trilogy for and it now makes perfect sense to us that they should inherit the storyline. For us, the idea of watching our baby evolve inside the virtual bubble-world of this new radically developing medium, which has in our opinion the potential of combining the best attributes of films and games, of synthesizing reality TV with soap opera, RPGs and Mortal Combat [sic], is fantastically exciting.— The Wachowskis
|Year||Title||Functioned as||Rotten Tomatoes||Metacritic||Budget||Box Office||Notes|
|1995||Assassins||Yes||15%||N/A||$50 million||$30 million|||
|1996||Bound||Yes||Yes||Yes||88%||61||$6 million||$7 million|
|1999||The Matrix||Yes||Yes||Yes||87%||73||$63 million||$463.5 million|
|2001||The Matrix Revisited||Yes||71%||N/A||N/A||N/A||Documentary|
Wrote: "Final Flight of the Osiris"
Story by: "The Second Renaissance Part I & II" and "Kid's Story"
|The Matrix Reloaded||Yes||Yes||Yes||73%||62||$150 million||$742.1 million|
|The Matrix Revolutions||Yes||Yes||Yes||36%||47||$150 million||$427.3 million|
|2005||V for Vendetta||Yes||Yes||73%||62||$54 million||$132.5 million||Second unit directors (uncredited)|
|2008||Speed Racer||Yes||Yes||Yes||40%||37||$120 million||$93.9 million|
|2012||Cloud Atlas||Yes||Yes||Yes||66%||55||$146.7 million||$130.5 million||Co-directed with Tom Tykwer|
|2014||Google Me Love||Yes||Short film|
|2015||Jupiter Ascending||Yes||Yes||Yes||26%||40||$176 million||$184 million|
|2015–2018||Sense8||Yes||Season 1: The Wachowskis
Season 2: Lana Wachowski
|Season 1: The Wachowskis
Season 2: Lana Wachowski
|Season 1: The Wachowskis
Season 2: Lana Wachowski
|Season 1: 70%
Season 2: 91%
|Co-created with J. Michael Straczynski|
|2003||Enter the Matrix||Yes||Yes|||
|2005||The Matrix Online||Yes|||
|The Matrix: Path of Neo||Yes||Yes|||
|1989–1994||Clive Barker's Hellraiser||Lana Wachowski||Issues: 8–9, 12–13 and Hellraiser: Spring Slaughter – Razing Hell|
|1992||Clive Barker's Nightbreed||Lana Wachowski||Issue: 17|
|1993||Clive Barker's Book of the Damned||Lana Wachowski||Volumes: 1–2 and 4.|
|1993–1994||Ectokid||Lana Wachowski||Issues: 3–9|
|1999–2004||The Matrix Comics||Yes||Yes||Written "Bits and Pieces of Information"|
|2004–2007||Shaolin Cowboy||Recap only||Yes|||
The Art of the Matrix book credits them for including their screenplay and additional art. The Wachowskis also wrote an introduction to the 2005 published Vol. 2: Tag trade paperback of Ex Machina comic book, being big fans of it. Additionally Lana Wachowski wrote the introduction to the 2012 published No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics collection of LGBTQ comic book stories.
Awards and nominations
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