Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer on 'Cloud Atlas,' 'Matrix' Sequels, and Out-of-Line Journalists (Q&A)
THR: So you guys caught them!
Tykwer: Has that ever been exposed publicly?
A. Wachowski: I don’t know.
[NOTE: IMDB.com confirms this goof: “The staff is supposed to be 60 inches tall (6 kadams = 72 inches, minus 1 kadam). The pole that Indy inserts into the hole in the map room towers over his head, indicating (incorrectly) that Indy is less than five feet tall. The laserdisc edition disproves any claim that he's standing on a lower step.”
THR: That’s great. The next question I wanted to pose to the two of you [Andy and Lana]. Did you reach the conclusion together, at the same time, that you wanted to go for this as a career? Or, was one of you sort of ahead of the other as far as making the commitment?
A. Wachowski: I don’t know if it was— I think that we were—
L. Wachowski: We wanted to write together, and we started writing comic books.
A. Wachowski: Yeah, we started doing comic books, and, I mean, we had done everything together. We were in a construction business before that. We were—
L. Wachowski: And we wrote role-playing games together. We wrote, like, a three-hundred-fifty page role playing game when we were kids. And, it’s still available! [laughs]
THR: Yeah? [laughs] Where can we get that, Amazon?
L. Wachowski: No, no publishers. We need a publisher.
THR: Oh, I see, I see...
L. Wachowski: The rights are still available!
THR: So, just each step along the way, you felt together that
L. Wachowski: Somehow playing together—which we did, particularly with role-playing, which we liked—that became writing and making art together. Like, playing just became— Making art was a natural extension of playing together.
A. Wachowski: Yeah. I mean, the step towards filmmaking really came on from— We read Roger Corman’s autobiography, How I Made 100 Movies and Never Lost a Dime, and it was, you know, such a revelation—you know, first of all, how cheap he made his movies, but also, like, “the Corman school.” The talent that’s come out of there is just, you know, absolutely staggering.
L. Wachowski: But we get the movies and we’re like, “Hey, this is pretty good!” And, again, you start inserting your own potential.
A. Wachowski: Correct.
L. Wachowski: You try imagining yourself, “Hey, maybe we could do this!”
A. Wachowski: That’s right. “We could make a Roger Corman movie!” And that’s actually— That was going to be our first foray.
THR: To do that kind of a movie?
A. Wachowski: We wrote this script called Carnivore, this low-budget horror movie, still unproduced.
L. Wachowski: Also, rights still available!
THR: [laughs] I wonder if you can summarize how different things were before and after Run Lola Run and The Matrix, which, I guess, came out within about a year of each other
Tykwer: Within three weeks of each other!
L. Wachowski: Almost the exact span of time that we were born apart.
THR: Oh, my God...
L. Wachowski: How’s that for Cloud Atlas?!
Tykwer: It’s really interesting. And it’s also part of why we, I think, particularly came to each other’s attention. Because those two movies were—I mean, at least the release in America was—kind of the same month and were kind of discussed in similar patterns in ways. It was a philosophical setting that’s driving them, in very different ways, obviously, but there’s, like, those ideas swirling around in a movie that is profoundly trying to be as entertaining as it can get with lots of fun ideas flying around.
THR: None of you were entirely anonymous before those films came out, but I imagine that they must have taken things to a completely different level for you. What were the biggest ways in which things changed after those movies made it big? I guess Run Lola Run came shortly before The Matrix, so [Tom] if you would go first?
Tykwer: It expanded, obviously, the range of possibilities of what— It’s something that objectively happens to you and subjectively it doesn’t. I didn’t reflect about it that much, I have to admit. It was more like— You know, if you look at the movie I did after that, I think I could’ve put that movie together with Lola being not a success or being a success, somehow. You know, it wasn’t like a huge film that I did and a big budget—
L. Wachowski: Princess?
Tykwer: The Princess and the Warrior. It was just a similar movie to the movie I had done before, in terms of the scale, and it was German, and it was, sort of, very particularly local. And I think that was kind of healthy in a way, I guess. I don’t feel I did reflect about it that much, in terms of, “Oh, I can do anything now,” because I don’t really believe in this whole idea that there are all these un-done movies in ourselves that would only happen if the system would turn towards us or embrace us. I think either they’re there or they’re not there, and then you try to develop them. And you have to imagine, I mean, Lana and Andy made The Matrix based on one movie before that was a movie that was made for two million dollars, no?
L. Wachowski: Three.
Tykwer: Three. I mean, like, you know, that kind of a jump is also, kind of, unheard of. In particular, in those days—it was even less possible, and it had to do with the fact that, I think, there was a certain determination. That’s what they wanted to do. There was a certain presence to the idea. And that movie, of course, was expensive just because the ideas in it were expensive, not because they were saying, “Oh, we want to make an expensive movie,” you know? [laughs] I think we would all be happy if it was ten percent of the money that it costs, any movie.
L. Wachowski: For us, because The Matrix was successful, we got to make the other two, which we had— You know, if we were only allowed to make The Matrix, we would’ve been very sad because the movie is an incomplete idea and the other two complete the ideas of that movie, and without them it is kind of a false representation of what we wanted it to be. And so we were very happy. It was like a rush of excitement that we were gonna get to finish the ideas.
A. Wachowski: I mean, I think, like, from a community standpoint, like, the success of those films were more important. Like, the community of filmmakers that we deal with and touch, you know? Like, we were able to get James McTeigue a job, and turned him into a director, and he made V for Vendetta, which we produced. And just, you know, how it extends to our friends and family, you know? We now have a building in Chicago that is like a family business for us. And so I think it’s the way it affects people’s lives around us more than our own careers.