New York Post (US), May 21, 2003
by Marcus Baram
"Matrix" creators Larry and Andy Wachowski let their mom settle arguments on the set of their movies, like Reloaded
May 21, 2003 -- LARRY Wachowski wears long hoop earrings and seems to enjoy spending time with a busty dominatrix. His brother Andy spends hours discussing philosophy and quantum physics in coffee shops. But that's only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the weird ways of the brothers Wachowski, the reclusive geniuses behind "The Matrix" movies.
After breaking box-office records, the sibs are as far from the spotlight as possible.
Andy, 35, has been described as a brawny, beer-drinking sci-fi fan while the more refined Larry, 37, prefers to discuss philosophy. And a report in the Mail on Sunday suggested he may be into bondage and donning heels and dresses.
But they seem joined at the hip when it comes to their fascination with Japanese anime, comics and B-grade movies - and their horror of the spotlight.
Soon after moving to Hollywood, where they at first worked as housepainters and carpenters, they wrote a gory screenplay, "Carnivore," about cannibals who preyed on yuppies. It was too dark to attract investors.
"The script was too disturbing," Andy told another newspaper in a rare 1999 interview. "We showed it to some people in Hollywood who said: 'This is a bad idea. I can't make this. I'm rich.' "
The brothers had to cut their 1996 lesbian thriller, "Bound," after test audiences walked out of a graphic sex scene and a violent sequence in which a character's finger was sliced off with pruning shears.
"The fun is in bending and twisting convention," Andy said in the interview.
The fun, for them, is also avoiding the press. Since starting work on the first "Matrix" in 1999, the brothers have refused to do any publicity. They have a clause in their contract that they wouldn't be photographed or quoted in any promotional material for "The Matrix Reloaded" or the third installment of the trilogy, "The Matrix Revolutions," due Nov. 5.
"They love everything about moviemaking except one thing: the press," "Matrix" producer Joel Silver told USA Today. "They want their films to do the talking for them."
That press paranoia seems to extend to others - family member Julie Wachowski, reached in Chicago, hung up yesterday on a Post reporter, shouting "We don't talk to the press."
Nor do they mingle much: On the set of "The Matrix Reloaded," crew were reportedly instructed not to talk to the brothers and to keep at least 20 feet away from them.
The secretive siblings grew up in Chicago and still have homes in the city's tony Andersonville neighborhood.
Their mother, Lynne, who still resolves arguments between the brothers, was a nurse-turned-expressionist painter (whose work's been described as "bursts of color and monsters").
Their father, Ronald, owned a machinery-importing business. On weekends, the family would go on "movie orgies" where they'd see three pictures a day.
The brothers became obsessed with comic books and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy as teens, creating their own comics, writing in longhand on legal pads, passing dialogue back and forth to each other.
After dropping out of college (Larry went to Bard College in upstate New York, Andy to Emerson College in Boston), the brothers moved back to Chicago and set up a housepainting and carpentry business. Their final project: a home for their parents.
After moving to L.A. in the early '90s, they painted mansions in the Hollywood Hills until they read about how low-budget director Roger Corman financed his own movies.
That inspired them to write "Carnivore," which may have repelled investors but attracted Dino De Laurentiis, who hired them to write "Assassins," the Sylvester Stallone-Antonio Banderas action movie. The Wachowskis tried taking their names off that flop after the studio altered the movie.
At that point, they nearly quit the movies, but they were determined to combine their interest in philosophy and martial arts, spending years refining the idea behind "The Matrix."
To convince the execs at Warner Bros. to finance the movie, the brothers hired cartoonists to make a 600-page comic book which became the visual blueprint for the movie.
Despite their enormous success - "Reloaded" made $93.3 million over the weekend and they've personally taken home $10 million-plus - the brothers stay close to their Chicago roots. Although they both own homes in Venice Beach, Calif., they avoid the Hollywood scene as much as possible.
"They threw a party for the cast and crew of 'The Matrix' at their house, but they haven't done anything this year," says Susan Hurst, a Chicago neighbor who's yet to meet them.
"I just hear reports from their family and other neighbors," she said. "They really keep to themselves."