Lilly Wachowski

Lilly Wachowski Biography

Director, Screenwriter, Filmmaker (1967–)
Lilly Wachowski is a writer, director and producer known for sci-fi and action films, including 'The Matrix' trilogy, 'V for Vendetta' and 'Cloud Atlas.'


Born on December 29, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois, Lilly Wachowski wrote for comics before working with sibling Lana to create the sexy thriller Bound. The Wachowskis then found great global success with the groundbreaking sci-fi feature The Matrix, followed by two sequels. The two later produced and wrote an adaptation of V for Vendetta and directed adaptations of Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas. They are also known for the Netflix series Sense8.

Early Life and Career

Lilly Wachowski was born on December 29, 1967, in Chicago, Illinois. Lilly grew up as Andrew "Andy" Wachowski, with older sibling Laurence, who later came out as transgender as well and changed her name to Lana. Lilly's parents, Lynne and Ron Wachowski, were avid filmgoers who treated their children to a variety of cinematic treats. Lilly attended Whitney M. Young Magnet High School before enrolling at Emerson College. She left school to run her own painting and carpentry business with Lana while writing for a Marvel Comics imprint series, Ectokid. Lilly wed Alisa Blasingame in 1991.

The Wachowski siblings started working in Hollywood with producer Joel Silver by penning a script for the Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas action flick Assassins (1995). They were then given directing and screenwriting duties for the sultry, women-centered heist film Bound (1996), starring Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly.

Launching 'The Matrix'

The siblings (formerly known as "the Wachowski Brothers") ended up directing and co-writing a groundbreaking work that explored existential philosophies in a dynamic storyline: The Matrix. The 1999 Warner Bros. film, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss, had a story that scrutinized the virtual world of a future era and revolutionized the interplay of action choreography and CGI effects. The movie became a global blockbuster and was followed by two 2003 sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, with the trilogy earning more than $1 billion worldwide. Though enjoying huge success, the siblings maintained their privacy, negotiating with Warner Bros. that they wouldn't do press.

Lilly helped to establish Burlyman Entertainment, a comic and graphic novel publisher, in 2004. The siblings stayed in that literary world for their next project, producing and writing the 2006 film adaptation of the Alan Moore graphic novel V for Vendetta. The movie, directed by James McTeigue, starred Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman as characters in a dystopic England undergoing revolution as sparked by a masked figure.

In 2008, the siblings produced, directed and co-wrote a kaleidoscopic adaptation of the 1960s animated series Speed Racer. The two returned to working as producers with McTeigue for 2009's Ninja Assassin.  

'Cloud Atlas' and 'Jupiter Ascending'

2012 was a momentous year for the Wachowskis. In late October, they released their adaptation of the David Mitchell novel Cloud Atlas, which they co-directed with German filmmaker Tom Tykwer, and which features Halle Berry and Tom Hanks. Around this time Lana also began making public statements about her experience as a transgender citizen. 

In February 2015, the Wachowskis released their next film, Jupiter Ascending, a space opera starring Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne. Though offering majestic visuals, the movie was panned by critics and opened to moderate box office attendance. Later in the year the duo released the better received Netflix series Sense8, following a group of individuals across the globe who are supernaturally connected.

Come Out As Transgender

In March 2016, Lilly came out as transgender, after a reporter from the tabloid The Daily Mail hinted that the publication would leak a story about her transition. She gave a full statement, speaking also on behalf of trans rights in general, to the Windy City Times

"Being transgender is not easy. We live in a majority-enforced gender binary world. This means when you're transgender you have to face the hard reality of living the rest of your life in a world that is openly hostile to you.I am one of the lucky ones. Having the support of my family and the means to afford doctors and therapists has given me the chance to actually survive this process. Transgender people without support, means and privilege do not have this luxury. And many do not survive." Lilly Wachowski 

Lilly Wachowski Self-Portrait Photo via Windy City Times

(Photo: Self portrait of Lilly Wachowski via Windy City Times.)

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