Lilly Wachowski

Lilly Wachowski

Born on Dec. 29. 1967 in Chicago, IL, Andy Wachowski was raised by his father, Ron, a businessman and his mother, Lynne, a nurse and amateur painter. After graduating from Whitney Young High School, which had a noted performing arts curriculum, Wachowski studied at Emerson College in Boston, while Larry attended Bard College in upstate New York. Both dropped out and went into the carpentry business together while writing comic books in their spare time. Eventually, The Wachowskis wrote issues of Clive Barker's Ectokid (1993-94) series for Marvel Comics' imprint Razorline, as well as Clive Barker's Hellraiser (1989-1992) and Clive Barker's Nightbreed (1990) for Epic Comics. The duo wrote and sold their first script to producer Dino De Laurentiis, which eventually became the action thriller "Assassins" (1995), starring Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas as rival hit men forced to work together. Panned by critics, the film veered between generic action and character study while becoming a box office dud.For their directorial debut, The Wachowskis chose a rather risqué project with "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 even Sam Raimi's cult classic "The Evil Dead" (1981), the duo set out to create a modern film noir that would invert the genre. With its elaborately stylish camerawork and intriguing story, "Bound" received generally appreciative reviews. From there, the siblings were propelled to superstardom when they wrote and directed "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, the Wachowskis 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), the Wachowskis 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. While critics were generally warm towards "Reloaded," they were far less forgiving with "Revolutions," with many calling the latter film anticlimactic.The Wachowskis stepped back from directing to 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(s), the brothers 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, the Wachowskis 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. Before the film's premiere, Lana Wachowski emerged from self-imposed seclusion to reveal her transgender status in promotional materials for "Cloud Atlas."Three years later, Lana and Andy Wachowski wrote and 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, the Wachowskis created and produced their first venture for television, the telepathy-based thriller "Sense8" (Netflix 2015-17). On March 8, 2016, Lilly Wachowski revealed herself as a transgender woman, reportedly in response to a hostile tabloid journalist's threats to her privacy.