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As dense and hard to unravel as they make their films, Andy and Lana Wachowski have created a public image that is perhaps even more mysterious.
The writer/directors that made The Matrix Trilogy and penned V for Vendetta, the pair are known for their intelligence and disinterest in giving interviews, which combined with a significant shift in Lana’s personal life, has made their story more compelling than ever. The New Yorker focused a long feature on the siblings, with very revealing results.
Here are seven things we learned from the profile:
1. They first discovered David Mitchell‘s 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, thanks to Natalie Portman, who was reading it on the set of V for Vendetta.
2. Using the same actors (such as Tom Hanks and Halle Berry) to represent souls, and thus play multiple roles, was the Wachowskis’ idea. It helped them solve the challenged posed by the book’s non-linear timeline, and portray the connection between the characters.
3. Lana, who was born a boy named Larry, began struggling with gender identity from an early age. In third grade, Larry was frozen by the choice between walking in the girls’ and boys’ line entrance to their Catholic school. Choosing the girl line, he was often bullied for being “betwixt.”
4. They were Dungeons & Dragons obsessed.
5. So unhappy were they with the final film that came from their debut screenplay, Assassins, they tried to get their name taken off the credits. Didn’t work.
6. The sequel to The Matrix filmed in Australia, and was marked with problems: two actors died before the shoot, and a grip committed suicide. It’s also when Lana, then Larry, began to struggle with his gender identity.
“For years, I couldn’t even say the words ‘transgendered’ or ‘transsexual,” Lana said. “When I began to admit it to myself, I knew I would eventually have to tell my parents and my brother and my sisters. This fact would inject such terror into me that I would not sleep for days.”V
7. Cloud Atlas has a long legacy of financial struggles. Warner Bros. withdrew support; gave it back, but in a lower amount than the Wachowskis wanted, when Hanks signed on; and cobbling independent financing was difficult.
“It is super frustrating that people think that it’s like a stock market,” Andy Wachowski said. “You bet on the movie you like because you have taste. It’s not like buying Shell Oil. You get into the movie business because you like movies. Not because you like money.”
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