Who is Joe Wright?
Joe Wright is an English film director, best known for directing films such as ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Atonement.’ Born and raised in London, UK, Joe inherited the love for the art from his parents, who owned a puppet theatre in London. Joe grew up as a bullied and insecure kid and spent a lot of time at his parents’ theatre. He made a short amateur film with his father’s Super 8 Camera and developed a fascination for filmmaking. Following his graduation, he made several short films and worked in a music video production company. He made his feature film debut with the 2005 film ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ which starred Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. The film earned four ‘Academy Award’ nominations along with 6 ‘BAFTA’ nominations. This explosive beginning promised great things in future and Joe proved everyone right, delivering back-to-back critically acclaimed films, such as ‘Hanna,’ ‘Anna Karenina,’ ‘Atonement’ and ‘Darkest Hour.’
Childhood & Early Life
Joe Wright was born Joseph Wright, in London, UK, on August 25, 1972, to Lyndie and John Wright. His parents were puppeteers and owned their own puppet theatre in London, which Joe visited frequently. Joe grew up with two siblings - John and Sarah Wright.
Joe was a dyslexic and that greatly affected his grades. This, along with the fact that he was overweight and eccentric, led to quite a lot of bullying in school. He slowly turned into a shy, emotional kid with anxiety issues.
Indulging in artistic endeavours gave him a safe passage from the horrors of the real world. Joe used to watch his father make puppets; he would also explain the processes to him. This influence was later seen in his films.
Joe also developed interest in painting during his childhood years. He tried his hand at several art forms, such as fine arts and acting. He got to work on his father’s Super 8 camera, which led him to make short films and editing them. This resulted in a lifelong love for the art of filmmaking.
He was bad at academics and graduated high school without GCSEs. He spent one year at the ‘Camberwell University’ in an art foundation course. He also acted in theater. He later earned a degree in fine arts at Central St. Martins. During his last year in college, he earned a scholarship to make a short film for BBC, he made one and earned a lot of accolades, which infused in him a lot of self-confidence.
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When his BBC short film became a success, he was asked to direct a small budget serial ‘Nature Boy.’ It brought him more television work and he got to direct one more serial ‘Bodily Harm.’ The biggest breakthrough of his early career was ‘Charles II: The Power and the Passion.’ It won the ‘BAFTA Award for best Drama Serial.’
He joined a production company ‘Oil Company’ that made music videos. Joe joined the company as an intern. In the late 1990s, he got opportunity to direct a few music videos.
He also indulged in making short films in the early 2000s and also created visuals for bands, such as ‘Underworld’ and ‘Chemical Brothers.’ He had attended many rave parties while researching, and he says that it left a lasting impression on his artistic sensibilities.
In 2005, he made his first feature film, ‘Pride & Prejudice,’ which starred Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name, the film received massive success on the box office and also got critical acclaim. It won 4 ‘Academy Award’ nominations along with 6 ‘BAFTA’ nominations. Joe earned a lot of praise for his work. He made a great mark with his first film; he received appreciation for his unique style of merging traditional storytelling with modern styles.
Joe next began working on another adaptation – on the Booker Prize shortlisted novel ‘Atonement.’ The film, bearing the same title as the book, released in 2007, and turned out to be a yet another massive success, both critically and commercially. The film bagged the ‘BAFTA Award for Best Film’ and was nominated for 7 Oscars and 7 ‘Golden Globes.’ With back-to-back two hugely acclaimed films to his credit, Joe became the most promising new director in the British cinema.
In 2009, he worked on the biopic of musician named Nathaniel Ayers, who was a schizophrenic. The film ‘The Soloist’ starred Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey in the lead roles and received mixed to negative reviews. The film also failed to leave a mark at the box office. However, Joe’s trademark style of taking long tracking shots and using character’s hand gestures to exhibit emotion received a lot of praise.
In his next two films, ‘Hanna’ and ‘Anna Karenina,’ Joe made a solid comeback. Both the films received critical and commercial acclaim.
In 2015, he ventured into fantasy cinema with ‘Pan,’ it was commercial as well as a critical failure.
In 2017, however, he directed ‘Darkest Hour,’ a film based on a specific time period in the life of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The film received huge critical and commercial success and received several award nominations, including ‘BAFTA,’ ‘Academy,’ and ‘Golden Globe.’
Family & Personal Life
Joe Wright met Rosamund Pike in 2005 during the shoot of ‘Pride & Prejudice.’ The couple got engaged, but parted ways in 2008.
In 2010, Joe got married to sitarist Anoushka Shankar. The couple got divorced in 2018, when Anoushka found out about Joe’s affairs. The couple have two sons together.
He has been dating actress Helen Bennett since 2018. The couple has a daughter together.