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The Wachowskis

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The Wachowskis - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carrie-Anne Moss, Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, The Matrix

Lana Wachowski (formerly Laurence "Larry" Wachowski, born June 21, 1965) and her brother, Andrew Paul "Andy" Wachowski (born December 29, 1967), known together professionally as the Wachowskis or the Wachowski Starship and formerly as the Wachowski Brothers, are American film directors, screenwriters and producers.


They made their directing debut in 1996 with Bound, and reached fame with their second film The Matrix (1999), 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 heavily involved in the writing and production of other works in the franchise.

Following the commercial success of the Matrix series, they wrote and produced the 2006 film V for Vendetta (an adaptation of the comic of the same name by Alan Moore), and in 2008 released the film Speed Racer, which was a live action adaptation of the Japanese anime series of the same name. Their next film, Cloud Atlas, based on the novel of the same name by David Mitchell and co-written and co-directed by Tom Tykwer, was released on October 26, 2012. Their most recent film, Jupiter Ascending, debuted in 2015, with their television series, Sense8, following later in the year.

Early life

Lana Wachowski was born in Chicago in 1965. Andy Wachowski was born 2½ years later in 1967. Their mother, Lynne (nee Luckinbill), was a nurse and painter whose brother is actor Laurence Luckinbill. Their father, Ron Wachowski, was a businessman of Polish descent. They have two sisters, Julie and Laura; Julie was credited as assistant coordinator in the Wachowskis film Bound, and is a novelist and screenwriter.

Lana and Andy attended Kellogg Elementary School in Chicagos Beverly area, and graduated from Whitney Young High School, known for its performing arts and science curriculum, in 1983 and 1985, respectively. Former students recall them playing Dungeons & Dragons and working in the school’s theater and TV program. Andy then attended Emerson College in Boston, while Lana went to Bard College in New York. Both dropped out before graduating and ran a house-painting and construction business in Chicago while writing for Marvel Comics.

Directors that influenced the pair include Alfred Hitchcock, John Huston, Billy Wilder, Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, Roger Corman, the Coen brothers, John Woo, Akira Kurosawa, Mamoru Oshii, Ridley Scott, George Lucas, Fritz Lang, and Stanley Kubrick. Other reported influences have been writers Hermann Hesse, Homer, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky and philosophers Cornel West and Ken Wilber.

Early work

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 Barkers Hellraiser and Clive Barkers Nightbreed comic series.

In the mid-1990s they branched out into film writing, creating the script for Assassins in 1994. Warner Brothers bought the script and included two more pictures in the contract. Assassins was "totally rewritten" by Brian Helgeland and the Wachowskis tried unsuccessfully to remove their names from the film. They then moved on to their next project, the neo-noir thriller Bound, 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 prominently feature a homosexual relationship without it being central to the plot. Taking advantage of the positive buzz, the Wachowskis asked to direct their next picture, The Matrix.

The Matrix franchise

Their next film, The Matrix, was completed in 1999. It proved to be a success, and spawned two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both released in 2003.

Later work

The Wachowskis next feature-film project was V for Vendetta, an adaptation of Alan Moores comic book of the same name. They wrote and produced the film with Matrix producer Joel Silver, who had previously purchased the film rights to the novel. The film was directed by Wachowski collaborator James McTeigue. The production proceeded without the participation of Moore, who was disappointed with previous Hollywood adaptations of his work, and disagreed with differences between the screenplay and his novel. As a result, Moore is not credited. The films controversial story line and themes have been the target of both criticism and praise from sociopolitical groups. It was released in 2006 and was well received critically and was a box office success, although not on the scale of the Matrix films.

In 2006, the Wachowskis and McTeigue were hired to revamp The Invasion for Warner Brothers. The studio was disappointed in the film as produced by director Oliver Hirschbiegel and hired the Wachowskis to rewrite the script and add new scenes, which McTeigue directed. The film, the fourth adaptation of the novel The Body Snatchers, was not a critical or box office success. The Wachowskis and McTeigue are not credited on the film for their involvement.

The Wachowskis returned to directing with 2008s Speed Racer. The film was an adaptation of a Japanese manga series from the 1950s, which was itself made into an 1960s anime TV series. Upon release the movie was considered a critical and commercial disappointment. While its special effects were noted as outstanding, the storyline is considered lacking. It was also 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. However in later years critics periodically have put the film on lists of underrated or cult films.

Their next directorial outing was Cloud Atlas, adapted from David Mitchells 2004 novel, which drew mixed reviews. The Wachowskis subsequently produced and directed Jupiter Ascending, an original science fiction screenplay they wrote. The film was released February 2015. It stars Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, and features the Wachowskis regular collaborators John Gaeta on the visual effects and Kym Barrett on costumes.

On October 2, 2012, Variety reported the Wachowskis had written three hour-long spec scripts for a TV series dubbed Sense8, developed with Ninja Assassin collaborator J. Michael Straczynski, and were set to shop them around L.A. the coming week, with the help of Straczynskis Studio JMS and Georgeville Television. In their pursuit of the concept, the Wachowskis have penned three spec scripts that are said to resemble their unique storytelling style seen in The Matrix films, and they plan to direct at least a few episodes of the series, should it be made. Producer Marc Rosen of Georgeville Television (GTTV), described the project as "an idea so big in size and scale that it doesnt make sense to try it as a pilot. The only way to let the filmmakers realize their vision on something like this is to do multiple episodes." On March 27, 2013 it was announced ten episodes will be made to be streamed on Netflix late 2014. The series is described as "a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted" which was conceived by the showrunners "after a late night conversation about the ways technology simultaneously unites and divides us".

Future works

In 2008, the Wachowskis were producing for Madhouse an animated film based on their comic book companys Shaolin Cowboy, titled Shaolin Cowboy in The Tomb of Doom. The feature is co-directed by the comic books 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.

Warner Bros. has expressed interest in Hood, a modern adaptation of the Robin Hood legend, which the Wachowskis wrote and plan to direct. They also wrote an Iraq war-set gay romance conspiracy thriller titled CN-9 (or Cobalt Neural 9); however, the project failed to find financing. However the siblings are still keen to make it, even if it has to be made in a different form than film.

Lana stated that after the release of Jupiter Ascending and Sense8, they are going to take a sabbatical because they have worked six years without a break. The Wachowskis also wrote the script of Carnivore and the script of Plastic Man, the latter based on the DC Comics superhero of the same name. Both projects remain unproduced so far.


The siblings admit to a love for telling multipart stories. "Because we grew up on comic books and the Tolkien trilogy, one of the things were interested in is bringing serial fiction to cinema," Lana has said. Andy puts his desire to shake up viewers a bit more bluntly: "We think movies are fairly boring and predictable. We want to screw with audiences expectations." In terms of themes that run through 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" and "the paradox of choice and choicelessness". The Wachowskis cited the art of comic book artist Geof Darrow as an influence on the look of The Matrix. Also, they stated that Ghost in the Shell, Ninja Scroll, and Akira as anime that inspired them. "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.

The Wachowskis cited Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey as one of their main inspirations for Cloud Atlas. They first saw the film when they were seven and ten respectively.

Lanas most influential films are 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Ma vie en rose and My Neighbor Totoro. Both of them 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 their inclusion in the form of deleted scenes would suggest that their films suffer from incompleteness due to logistical or financial studio constraints, which is not the case as they love the finished product. For the same reason their films never received a directors or extended cut. They also avoid recording audio commentary tracks, having participated only once on the track recorded for the LaserDisc of Bound. The siblings explain they discovered offering their interpretation of what their movies mean leads to people being less likely to express their own interpretation. Furthermore they are not interested in the typical commentaries with cast and crew.

Frequent collaborators

The Wachowskis have been noted for hiring the same basic film crew to make their movies. Lana admits they do it in part to make sure prejudice does not enter their place of work. "Its 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.

A list of some of their most notable frequent collaborators includes:

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. EONs 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.

Kinowerks is their pre- and post-production and effects studio, based in Ravenswood, Chicago. It has been acclaimed for its green-friendly design. 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 Tribunes Christopher Pirelli has interviewed the Wachowskis in the facility but was instructed to keep its exact location a secret, as the filmmakers want to avoid having fans showing up at the front door.

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 Barkers Hellraiser and Clive Barkers Nightbreed comic series.

In 2003, they created Burlyman Entertainment and have released comic books based on The Matrix as well as two original bi-monthly series:

  • Shaolin Cowboy created, written, and art 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.
  • Personal life

    Andy has been married to Alisa Blasingame since 1991. Lana married Thea Bloom in 1993; they divorced in 2002. She 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. Lana is a vegetarian.

    Lanas 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 mentioned the possible gender reassignment. The Wachowskis remained silent, and sources close to them denied the rumors. In a 2007 interview Joel Silver, the producer of numerous Wachowski films, stated that the rumors concerning the gender reassignment surgery were "all untrue", further explaining, "they just dont do interviews, so people make things up." Similar statements were made to Fox News by crew members working on the Speed Racer film, with one employee pointing out, "on the call sheets, it still says Larry."

    According to Rovi, Lana completed the transition after Speed Racers release in 2008. The Hollywood Reporter and the New York Times have referred to the Wachowskis as "Andy and Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski", and has referred to the duo as "Andy and Lana Wachowski." On some documents she appears 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 received the Human Rights Campaigns Visibility Award. In her acceptance speech she revealed that she had considered committing suicide once in her youth. Lanas acceptance speech was one of the longest public appearances that either of the notoriously reclusive siblings has ever given. She began by explaining that although she and her brother had not publicly commented on her transitioning during the past decade of rumors about it, this was not because she was ashamed of it, nor had she kept it a secret from her family and friends. Rather, Lana had not commented about her transitioning due to a general shyness about the news media that both she and her brother Andy possess. Comparing it to losing ones virginity as an event which only happens once and is irreversible, the Wachowskis had tried to stay out of the public eye and avoided giving interviews due to fear of losing their personal privacy, fearing that they would never be able to go to a public restaurant again without being noticed and harassed as celebrities. Explaining her decision to appear at the event, she 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 couldnt 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." In February 2014, Lana received the Freedom Award from Equality Illinois at the organizations annual gala in Chicago. "A native of Chicago's Beverly neighborhood, Wachowski made her mark in the world of imagination, most famously by writing, directing and executive producing with her brother Andy Wachowski the The Matrix trilogy as well as films Cloud Atlas, Bound and Speed Racer."


    Lana and Andy are self-proclaimed gamers. As teens they spent their weekends in the attic playing Dungeons & Dragons. They liken the process of the playing parties imagining the same virtual space to the process of filmmaking. Along with some of their friends they wrote a 350-page role-playing game of their own, called High Adventure. The rights to it are available for publishing.

    On the video game front, they had been exchanging letters with Hideo Kojima and finally 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. Shinys David Perry, who ultimately had his company develop and collaborate with them on the Enter the Matrix and The Matrix: Path of Neo video game, was impressed with their familiarity with the medium, which was a big plus 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. Reportedly during a Halo deathmatch they destroyed their Xbox. Actor Collin Chou recounts an instance of visiting their office and finding them playing video games on the floor. Andy is a fan of the Death Jr. PlayStation Portable game.

    Asked about their feelings 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:

    Music videos

    Additionally classifying themselves as "lifelong rabid Bulls fans" they created a revamped introductory animation for Chicago Bulls to open the 2006 - 2007 regular season.

    Comic books

    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.


    The Wachowskis Wikipedia