PROFILE
Name:
Leigh Whannell
Birth Date:
January 17, 1977
Birth Place:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Nationality:
Australian
BIOGRAPHY
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Saw

Background:

“I've been writing stories since I was a kid and James and I had been talking about wanting to make a film for many years before this. Even though we wrote the film as a means to an end, so that James would have something to direct and I could have something to act in, it wasn't a slough for me to get through it because I love writing. It took me a long time only because I felt like it was all or nothing; that this script had to be good enough to compete at a world level. We didn't want it to be something that was something that was pretty good for a couple of guys from Melbourne. We wanted it to be a good film on a par with other independent films like “Run, Lola, Run” and “Pi” and “Memento,” these cool thrillers that had ticking clock gimmicks to them. They're the type of films we wanted to be up there with.” Leigh Whannell (on “Saw”)

Australian screenwriter, producer and actor Leigh Whannell is famous as the co-creator of the successful American horror franchise “Saw,” with film director James Wan. Starting with the 2003 short film, the small budget first full length film “Saw” (2004, directed by Wan and written by Whannell) was a sleeper hit although critics' responses were mixed. It has since spawned five movie sequels with a seventh set to be released in 2010. The installments were directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, David Hackl and Kevin Greutert and written by Whannell, Bousman, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan with the creators maintaining the franchise as executive producers. Whannell also starred as Adam Faulkner-Stanheight in “Saw,” (2004) where he earned a Teen Choice nomination for his performance, and “Saw III” (2006). Outside of the “Saw” films, Whannell wrote the scripts for “Dead Silence” (2007) and “Insidious” (2011) (both directed by James Wan) and acted in the films “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003), “Razor Eaters” (2003), “One Perfect Day” (2004) and “Dying Breed” (2008). Whannell began his career in show business as an actor while still at college. He branched out as a reporter, presenter and film critic for Australian television before eventually gaining major victory with the “Saw” franchise.

Whannell has been married to Corbett Tuck since October 2009. He owns and drives a Delorean, which is one of only ten in Australia. He names David Lynch and Dario Argento among his favorite directors and “Rope,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Shining” and “Lost Highway” as his favorites movies.


Melbourne

Childhood and Family:

Leigh Whannell was born on January 17, 1977, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. He discovered he had an interest in telling stories by age 4 and began writing at a very young age. While he believes his mother was the one who ignited his passion for storytelling, it was his father, Adam, who worked behind the camera in the television business and contributed to his love of filmmaking. The graduate of Melbourne's Scoresby Primary School was accepted into the influential Media Arts course at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology when he was 18 years old. While there, he met fellow filmmaker James Wan.

Leigh married his girlfriend, Corbett Tuck, on October 10, 2009.


The Matrix Reloaded

Career:

19 year old Leigh Whannell entered show business as an actor when he landed a two episode role on the popular Australian television soap opera “Neighbours” (1996). He went on to play Jared Ryan in two episodes of the police drama “Blue Heelers” during 1999 to 2000. While in his second year of college, in 1999, he received a role on the hit Saturday morning show “Recovery,” which was presented by Dylan Lewis. As a presenter of film reviews, Whannell interviewed celebrities like Russell Crowe, Peter Jackson, George Clooney and Tim Burton. He stayed on the show until its cancellation in 2000.

Whannell made his feature film acting debut in the Aussie horror flick “Stygian” (2000), which was co-written and co-directed by James Wan and Shannon Young. After graduating college, he became a reporter on the show “In Entertainment” (2003) and a presenter and host on Australia television.

In 2003, Whannell landed the small, but notable, role of Axel on the Wachowski brothers science fiction film “The Matrix Reloaded,” the second installment in the “Matrix” trilogy. Starring Keanu Reeves, the film grossed over $742 million against its budget of $150 million. He also voiced Alex in the video game “Enter the Matrix” (2003) and portrayed Nick D. in “Razor Eaters,” a horror film written and directed by Shannon Young and starring Paul Moder and Richard Cawthorne. He then appeared in the 7 minute comedy “The Referees,” which was helmed by Katrina Mathers and written by Holly Salmons.

In an attempt to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a filmmaker, Whannell collaborated with James Wan for his first short, “Saw” (2003), which he wrote and Wan directed. He also acted in the film as David. The feature film version of “Saw,” with Whannell and Wan reprising their writing and directing duty, respectively, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2004, where it was well received by critics. It was released theatrically in the U.S. on October 29, 2004, and in Australia on December 2, 2004. With an original budget of $1.2 million, the film was a commercial success despite receiving mixed reviews from critics. It debuted at No. 3 at the box office with an opening weekend gross of over $18 million. The film went on to earn over $103 million in 9 weeks of being in theaters and Whannell was nominated for a 2005 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Scream Scene. In addition to writing, Whannell also starred in the movie as photographer Adam Faulkner-Stanheight, opposite Cary Elwes as Dr. Lawrence Gordon, Danny Glover as Detective David Tapp, Ken Leung as Detective Steven Sing and Dina Meyer as Detective Allison Kerry, among other actors. 2004 also saw Whannell play the supporting role of Chris in the Australian critically acclaimed dramatic film “One Perfect Day,” for director Paul Currie.

Following the success of “Saw,” Whannell was reunited with Wan to executive produce the sequel “Saw II” (2005), which was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and co-written by Bousman and Whannell. Starring Tobin Bell, Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith, Erik Knudsen, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Franky G., Beverly Mitchell, Glenn Plummer, Dina Meyer and Lyriq Ben, the film earned generally negative reviews from critics, but was another huge financial hit. Costing about $4 million in production, “Saw II” grossed over $31 million during its opening weekend and nearly $153 million over all. The film still holds the record for being the highest grossing “Saw” film to date in the domestic market.

Whannell reprised his role of Adam on “Saw III” (2006), again directed by Bousman. He also co-wrote the script with James Wan and shared the producing responsibility with Wan, Mark Burg and Gregg Hoffman. The last of the “Saw” trilogy, “Saw III” received mixed reviews, but was a massive success at the box office where it grossed over $80 million domestically and over $164 million (as of May 2008) worldwide against its budget of $10 million. “Saw III” currently is the most successful film in the series worldwide to date. The same year, Whannell also contributed characters to Kelly Lynn Pancho's short film “The Scott Tibbs Documentary.”

In 2007, Whannell served as an executive producer on “Saw IV,” which was directed by Bousman and written by newcomers Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan and Thomas Fenton. The $10 million film grossed over $31 million in the United States and over $71 million internationally for a worldwide total of over $134 million. The same year, Whannell also contributed to the story and acted in the James Wan directed film “Death Sentence,” which was loosely based on a 1975 novel by Brian Garfield. The film, starring Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume, was a commercial failure.

Whannell again served as executive producer on the fifth installment, “Saw V,” (2008) which was directed by first timer David Hackl. It collected over $56 million in the domestic market and over $57 million internationally against its budget of $10.8 million. Also that year, Whannell starred as Matt in the Aussie thriller “Dying Breed” (directed by Jody Dwyer) and wrote and acted in the short film “Doggie Heaven” (helmed by James Wan). The following year, he executive produced and played Philip in Angus Sampson's short “The Last Supper” and served as an executive producer for “Saw VI,” which was directed by Kevin Greutert and written by Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan. “Saw VI” grossed over $62 million at the box office.

Whannell has completed filming “The Pardon,” a Hollywood dramatic film directed and co-written by Tom Anton. Cast as Clement Moss, he will costar with Jaime King, T.J. Thyne, M.C. Gainey, John Hawkes and Tim Guinee in the movie. He will also be reunited with James Wan in the upcoming horror film “Insidious” (2011), where he will serve as a writer and Wan is the director, and work as the executive producer on the new “Saw” film, “Saw VII” (2010), from the same director and writing team of “Saw VI.”


Awards:
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