Lana Wachowski Reveals Suicide Plan, Painful Past in Emotional Speech (Exclusive Video)

The "Cloud Atlas" co-director stuns and moves the crowd at HRC's annual gala dinner with a courageous 25-minute talk.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Cloud Atlas co-director Lana Wachowski is breaking her silence on her traumatic childhood.

In a funny, honest and deeply moving speech delivered Oct. 20 at the Human Rights Campaign’s gala fundraising dinner in San Francisco, Wachowski revealed painful details related to growing up transgender.

Q&A: 'Cloud Atlas' Director Lana Wachowski on Her Emotional Coming-Out Speech: 'It Was Just the Universe Saying I Should Do It' 

She once suffered a physical beating at the hands of a Catholic school nun after she failed to join a line of boys and nearly committed suicide as a young adult before being stared down by a man who wandered onto an empty subway platform where Wachowski was standing.

“I don’t know why he wouldn’t look away,” Wachowski told the crowd. “All I know is that because he didn’t, I am still here.”

Wachowski, 47, half of the sibling directing team behind The Matrix trilogy, was on hand to accept the Visibility Award for her recent decision to reverse a long-standing policy of eschewing press and public appearances and to openly acknowledge her transition -- a word she said she dislikes “because of its complicity in a binary gender narrative” -- to womanhood.

TRANSCRIPT: Lana Wachowski's HRC Visibility Award Acceptance Speech 

Surrounded by brother Andy, their parents and her wife, Wachowski shared her coming-out story with a crowd of 600 at the event, which for 28 years has raised funds for LGBT-friendly causes (past HRC Visibility Award honorees include Portia Di Rossi, Precious director Lee Daniels and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black).

A source at the event -- attended by Joel Podolny, incoming vp and dean of Apple University, and Ben Cotner, senior vp acquisitions at Open Road Films -- says the moment Wachowski stepped off the stage after her 25-minute speech, she cried for 10 minutes.

VIDEO: Lana Wachowski Makes Rare On-Camera Appearance to Promote 'Cloud Atlas'

“Lana’s willingness to tell her story will impact and change countless lives across the world,” says HRC president Chad Griffin, who introduced Wachowski. “She is a giant in her industry, and for someone with such success and such profile to be willing to tell their personal story to the world sends a tremendous message to LGBT people across the globe that they too can aspire to be a giant in their industry.”

Ahead of Cloud Atlas’ Oct. 24 L.A. premiere, her first red carpet appearance in 12 years, Wachowski tells The Hollywood Reporter, “They’ve been contacting me off and on for a while, and I’ve always said, 'No, I don’t do that sort of thing.” But her schedule worked out “and my wife thought it was a good idea to do it now."


Twitter: @SethAbramovitch