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Lana Wachowski: Celebrity ‘can actually worsen your life’

Directors Andy (L) and Lana Wachowski attend a news conference for their film "Cloud Atlas" at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival September 9, 2012.


It was the pink (and purple) elephant in the room: All of the reporters (from all over the world) were waiting for the other to ask Lana Wachowski about her transformation. In the end it took 29 minutes at the Cloud Atlas press conference Sunday afternoon to get the question.

Let's rewind for a second. There are a few things you should know about the Wachowski siblings. First: The famous Matrix directors are notoriously media shy.

Second: Lana Wachowski was originally Larry Wachowski and was raised as a boy.

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Third: Lana's debut public appearance as her fully transformed female self was in a non-trailer trailer for Cloud Atlas.

Okay, so let's go to back to the presser. The question, which began with "Andy and Lana, you were both raised as boys…," was interrupted to allow South Korean starlet Doona Bae to finish answering the last question about stress she experienced on the set. Then when the reporter finished the query about what prompted Lana Wachowski to go public with her gender transformation, there was a quick silence before Lana folded into herself and kind of nervously giggled. It was the same noise you might hear from your prudish girlfriend after asking her about her sex life.

Tom Hanks, who was seated beside Lana, jumped in and said: "You knew this was coming."

Lana, who was wearing an iridescent lilac dress with a knitted black cardigan (and her now-trademark neon pink and purple dreads), hesitantly started to explain:

"Ah, yeah, I did feel some responsibility to the GLBT people and some people had been asking me to be more public. But me and Andy, we love our privacy, our anonymity. Being a celebrity doesn't do much to improve yourself. We think it can actually worsen your life. So it was a big decision and it took a long time."

Andy, who was to her right, was supportive throughout the press conference. The two shared many hugs. At one point, it looked like Andy placed his hand on Lana's knee.

The pair also talked about how deep their friendship extends.

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"We just always played together and were pretty inseparable as kids," said Andy. "We never wanted to work apart."

"There is something beautiful in having someone who could have childhood dreams of being writers or filmmakers together," said Lana.

But the press conference wasn't all deeply emotional stuff. There were many laughs – most at the expense of Hugh Grant. The charmingly jerky Brit was celebrating his 52nd birthday; the entire room serenaded him with an impromptu rendition of Happy Birthday.

And then the cast (there were 16 stars present at the press conference) gave him a bit of a roast when asked who their favourite character to play was. Many men said "Hugh Grant's wife" with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks.

Jim Broadbent mentioned that in some scenes he didn't even realize he was working with Grant until the inevitable moment when Grant would say "Oh f–k off".

But Grant got the biggest laugh of them all. When asked about his favourite character, he talked about his portrayal of the post-apocalyptic villain Cannibal.

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"I have actually kept the costume," he said. "Mostly so I can slip it and watch the telly by myself."

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