Lilly Wachowski

Lilly Wachowski

For her directorial debut, Wachowski chose "Bound" (1996), a romance-thriller featuring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon as two criminal lesbians in love. Drawing on influences as varied as Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" (1944), Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" (1974) and Sam Raimi's cult classic "The Evil Dead" (1981), the film was a modern film noir that inverted genre tropes. With its elaborately stylish camerawork and intriguing story, "Bound" received generally appreciative reviews. From there, Wachowski was propelled to superstardom by "The Matrix" (1999), a sci-fi-action hybrid that morphed 17th century philosophy with futuristic technology to create a major blockbuster hit. The film drew upon such diverse influences as cyberpunk, anime, Hong Kong action films, Alice in Wonderland, The Bible, Descartes, and postmodern philosopher Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation, which was required reading for both cast and crew. Over a period of more than five years, Wachowski developed the story for this comic book-come-to-life, penning 14 drafts and overseeing the design of some 500 storyboards. The arduous shoot required the actors to undergo extensive physical conditioning so the film's innovative, special effects-driven set pieces would have a unique visual flair. In the end, all the meticulous planning paid off, as the film opened at the top of the box office and eventually grossed over $450 million worldwide. Meanwhile, the film was a massive cultural touchstone and popularized the use of "bullet time" visual effects across every medium. The success of "The Matrix" spawned a franchise that consisted of two sequels, an animated series, and even a number of video games. After the straight-to-DVD release of the animated shorts "The Animatrix" (2003), Wachowski concurrently filmed "The Matrix Reloaded" (2003) and "The Matrix Revolutions" (2003), both of which toned down the philosophical underpinnings of the first film in favor of more amped-up action. Wachowski stepped back from directing to co-write the scripts for the comic book adaptation "V for Vendetta" (2006), starring Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman, and "The Invasion" (2007), an adaptation of Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. Back in the director's chair, she helmed "Speed Racer" (2008), a live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese anime series of the same name. Starring Emile Hirsch as the titular race car driver, as well as Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox and Susan Sarandon, "Speed Racer" was savaged by critics and underperformed at the box office. After producing the martial arts actioner "Ninja Assassin" (2009), starring Rain and Naomie Harris, Wachowski returned to directing with "Cloud Atlas" (2012), a complexly structured epic that traversed multiple characters and storylines throughout various time periods in order to show how one life can have a significant impact on others. Made outside the studio system for a whopping $100 million, "Cloud Atlas" was the most expensive independent movie ever made and received an enthusiastic standing ovation following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, though critics were divided upon its theatrical release. Three years later, Wachowski co-wrote and co-directed "Jupiter Ascending" (2015), a science fiction action-adventure story starring Mila Kunis as a young woman who learns her true identity as the interstellar savior of humanity. The same year, she created and produced her first venture for television, the telepathy-based thriller "Sense8" (Netflix 2015-17). In 2019, Wachowski joined the writing staff of Abby McEnany and Tim Mason's sitcom "Work In Progress" (Showtime 2019-), serving as showrunner and one of the executive producers.