Joe Wright
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Joe Wright

Joe Wright
Joe Wright by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Wright at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con
Born1971 (age 48–49)
OccupationFilm director
Years active1997-present
(m. 2010; div. 2019)
Haley Bennett

Joseph Wright (born 1971) is an English film director. His motion pictures include the literary adaptations Pride & Prejudice (2005) and Anna Karenina (2012), the romantic war drama Atonement (2007), the action thriller Hanna (2011), Peter Pan origin story Pan (2015),[1] and Darkest Hour (2017), a political drama following Winston Churchill during World War II.[2]

Early life and career

Wright always had an interest in the arts, especially painting.[3] He would also make films on his Super 8 camera as well as spend time in the evenings acting in a drama club. Wright is dyslexic. He left school without any GCSEs.[4]

He began his career working at his parents' puppet theatre. He also took classes at the Anna Scher Theatre School and acted professionally on stage and camera. He spent an art foundation year at Camberwell College of Arts, before taking a degree in fine art and film at Central St Martins[5] where he was tutored by Malcolm Le Grice and Vera Neubauer. In his last year of studies he received a scholarship to make a short film for the BBC that won several awards. On the success of the short, he was offered the script for the serial Nature Boy.[6] He followed this up with the serials Bodily Harm with Timothy Spall, and the highly acclaimed Charles II: The Power and the Passion with Rufus Sewell which won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Serial.

During the 1990s he worked at Oil Factory, a music video production company based in Caledonian Road, Kings Cross. He worked on a variety of productions in numerous roles, including casting director. Here he was able to get the opportunity to direct some music videos. Alongside this, particularly on the strength of his short film work, he was also developing The End, his second short film. During this decade Wright also worked part-time as a roadie for Vegetable Vision who created visuals for various electronic music bands, such as Chemical Brothers, Darren Emerson, Underworld and Andrew Weatherall. He attributes some of the aesthetic and emotion of the UK rave scene as an influence on his work.[7]

Personal life

In 2007, Wright became engaged to actress Rosamund Pike, but the wedding was called off in 2008.[8]

Wright was married to sitarist Anoushka Shankar, daughter of Ravi Shankar and half-sister of Norah Jones from 2010 until 2019. They have two sons; Zubin Shankar Wright,[9] who was born in February 2011, and Mohan Shankar Wright, who was born in February 2015. They separated in December 2017 and their divorce was finalized in September 2019.[10] Court documents reveal that Wright had an affair.[11]

Wright was seen with American actress Haley Bennett in January 2018. Their daughter Virginia Willow was born on December 31, 2018, in Brooklyn Heights where Wright and Bennett reside.[12][13][14][15]

Feature films

Pride & Prejudice

In 2005, he made the transition to feature films with the critically acclaimed adaptation of Pride & Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. The film received numerous accolades including 4 Academy Award nominations (including Best Actress), 6 BAFTA nominations (Wright won the BAFTA for most promising newcomer) among a host of other nominations and wins.


Wright's next feature was an adaptation of Ian McEwan's Booker Prize shortlisted novel Atonement, which was released in 2007, reuniting Wright with Keira Knightley, and also stars James McAvoy and Saoirse Ronan. On 13 December 2007, the film was nominated for seven Golden Globe Awards, more than any other film that year. Though Wright himself was not nominated for director, the film received seven Academy Award nominations, winning only for Best Original Score. At the BAFTA Awards it received 14 nominations and went on to win for Best Production Design and Best Film.

The Soloist

His next film was The Soloist which stars Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. It is about the "true story of musical prodigy Nathaniel Ayers, who developed schizophrenia in his second year at Juilliard and ended up homeless on the streets of downtown L.A. where he performs the violin and cello."[16] It was to be released on 21 November 2008; however the release date was pushed back to 24 April 2009.


Wright reunited with Atonement star Saoirse Ronan for the 2011 action thriller Hanna. The title character is a 15-year-old girl trained since birth to be an assassin by her father (Eric Bana), a rogue CIA asset. The movie received mostly positive reviews with Roger Ebert calling it a "first rate thriller" in his review[17] The film received an aggregate score of 65 from Metacritic, meaning it received generally positive reviews.[18]

Anna Karenina

Wright directed the 2012 screen adaptation by Sir Tom Stoppard of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel Anna Karenina. The cast included Keira Knightley as Anna, Jude Law as her husband, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as her young love, Irish actor Domhnall Gleeson as Konstantin Levin, as well as Kelly Macdonald, Olivia Williams, Matthew Macfadyen, and Michelle Dockery.[19][20]Saoirse Ronan and Andrea Riseborough were initially cast in the film, but dropped out and were replaced by Alicia Vikander and Ruth Wilson, respectively.[21][22][23]


Wright then directed the 2015 prequel to Peter Pan for Warner Bros. The film starred Hugh Jackman, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Amanda Seyfried and Levi Miller as Peter. The screenplay by actor-turned-screenwriter Jason Fuchs was from the 2013 Hollywood Black List, a selection of popular unproduced scripts.[24]

Rooney Mara's casting as Tiger Lily caused a controversy, due to her being of European ancestry, while Tiger Lily is traditionally portrayed as being Native American.[25]

Darkest Hour

Wright's 2017 film Darkest Hour covers a pivotal month in the life of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The film stars Gary Oldman as Churchill, along with Ben Mendelsohn, Ronald Pickup, David Schofield, Kristin Scott Thomas, Samuel West and Lily James.[26]

Directorial trademarks

Wright won a BAFTA award for best newcomer for Pride & Prejudice and was the youngest director to have a film open the Venice Film Festival with Atonement.[27] According to the director's commentary on Pride & Prejudice, Wright is influenced by the work of British film director David Lean, and possessing a certain knowledge of art history, tries sometimes to compose his shots after classical paintings.

Charles II: The Power and The Passion, Pride & Prejudice, Atonement and Hanna all have long tracking shots in them. Atonement has a continuous 5 minute and 5 second shot of the Dunkirk evacuation. "Basically, I just like showing off", Wright told the audience at the Hay Festival.[28]



Year Title Notes
1997 Crocodile Snap Short film
1998 The End Short film
2005 Pride & Prejudice BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best New Filmmaker
Nominated - Chicago Film Critics Association for Most Promising Filmmaker
Nominated - Empire Awards for Best Director
Nominated - London Film Critics' Circle for British Newcomer of the Year
2007 Atonement Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated - Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Nominated - London Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director
Nominated - Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards for Best Director
Nominated - Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
2009 The Soloist
2011 Hanna
2012 Anna Karenina Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best British Film
2015 Pan
2017 Darkest Hour
2020 The Woman in the Window Post-production


Year Title Notes
2000 Nature Boy 4 episodes
2001 Bob & Rose 4 episodes
2002 Bodily Harm Miniseries
2003 Charles II: The Power and the Passion Miniseries;
4 episodes
2016 Black Mirror Episode: "Nosedive"

Commercial work

Casting and crew

Artist Pride & Prejudice (2005) Atonement (2007) The Soloist (2009) Hanna (2011) Anna Karenina (2012) Pan (2015) Darkest Hour (2017) The Woman in the Window (2020)
Nonso Anozie ?Y ?Y
Brenda Blethyn ?Y ?Y
Michelle Dockery ?Y ?Y
Tom Hollander ?Y ?Y ?Y
Keira Knightley ?Y ?Y ?Y
Matthew Macfadyen ?Y ?Y
Jena Malone ?Y ?Y
Gary Oldman ?Y ?Y
Saoirse Ronan ?Y ?Y
Peter Wight ?Y ?Y
Olivia Williams ?Y ?Y
Valerio Bonelli ?Y ?Y
Bruno Delbonnel ?Y ?Y
Jacqueline Durran ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y
Sarah Greenwood ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y
Dario Marianelli ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y
Seamus McGarvey ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y
Thomas Napper ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y
Katie Spencer ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y
Paul Tothill ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y ?Y

Directed Academy Award performances


  1. ^ "Garrett Hedlund Offered Captain Hook Role in 'Pan'". Archived from the original on 30 January 2014.
  2. ^ Keene, Allison. "Director Joe Wright May Return to WWII with Winston Churchill Drama". Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ "Joe Wright bio". Retrieved 2009. Quote: "He took improv workshops at the Anna Scher Theatre, and with his portfolio of paintings and Super 8 films, was accepted into Camberwell School of the Arts."
  4. ^ Greenstreet, Rosanna (3 August 2013). "Q & A with Joe Wright". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ "It's all about bums on seats - interview with Joe Wright". London. Guardian. 10 February 2008. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "Joe Wright Biographer". Yahoo! Movies. Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 2009. Quote: "Wright started working in British television, beginning with the cult hit miniseries Nature Boy." (BBC, 2000)
  7. ^ Solomons, Jason It's all about bums on seats The Observer. 10 February 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  8. ^ Barber, Lynn (23 May 2009). ""I don't sleep around, if that's what you mean ... Would you like some more cake?"". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "Anoushka Shankar's pregnant!". TNN. 27 August 2010. Retrieved 2010.
  10. ^ "Wright-Shankar's marriage comes to an end". TOI.
  11. ^ "Court grants end to Anoushka Shankar Marriage to Joe Wright".
  12. ^ "Wright and Bannett expecting".
  13. ^ "Instagram post by Haley Bennett o May 15, 2019 at 3:13pm UTC". Instagram.
  14. ^ "Haley Bennett on Instagram: "Being a momma has changed me and my life in ways that I never could have imagined. I am so grateful. I can't imagine life without this..."". Instagram.
  15. ^ "How a New Generation of Designers Is Shaking Up Storied Fashion Houses", Vogue (magazine), February 13, 2018. Accessed February 12, 2019. "Back in Brooklyn Heights with her rescue dog, River, Bennett's personal goal is about 'transforming and decorating my house. I have 60 pairs of shoes--and no forks.'"
  16. ^ Fleming, Michael (16 August 2007). "Jamie Foxx tunes up for 'Soloist': Oscar winner to star in DreamWorks drama". Variety. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 2009.
  17. ^ "Hanna". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2017.
  18. ^ "Critic Reviews for Hanna". Metacritic. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 2012.
  19. ^ Germain Lussier (4 June 2011). "Joe Wright's 'Anna Karenina' Welcomes Saoirse Ronan, Kelly Macdonald, Olivia Williams And More". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2011.
  20. ^ "Domhnall Gleeson Lands Role in Joe Wright's 'Anna Karenina'". IFTN. Retrieved 2011.
  21. ^ Patrick Collinson (29 July 2011). "Fancy owning a piece of film history". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2011.
  22. ^ Nigel M Smith (18 August 2011). "Andrea Riseborough Talks Madonna, RADA and "Brighton Rock": What's Next". Indie Wire. Retrieved 2011.
  23. ^ "Tannishtha Chatterjee joins Jude Law's film". The Times Of India. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 2017.
  24. ^ Kroll, Justin (16 December 2013). "The Black List Announces 2013 Screenplays (Complete List)". Variety. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ Perlman, Jake (13 March 2014). "Rooney Mara as 'Peter Pan's' Tiger Lily: A look at the controversy | PopWatch |". Retrieved 2017.
  26. ^ McNary, Dave (6 September 2016). "Gary Oldman's Winston Churchill Film 'Darkest Hour' Gets Release Date, Rounds Out Cast". Variety. Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ Vo, Alex (14 September 2007). "Toronto Film Fest: An Interview with Atonement Director Joe Wright". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009.
  28. ^ Brooks, Xan (3 June 2007). "Hay festival: Atonement looks mightily impressive". London: Retrieved 2009.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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