Leigh Whannell

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Leigh Whannell
Leigh Whannell Saw 3D premiere.jpg
Whannell at the Saw 3D premiere (28 October 2010)
Born (1977-01-17) 17 January 1977 (age 37)
Melbourne, Australia
Years active 1996–present
Spouse(s) Corbett Tuck (m. 2009)

Leigh Whannell (born 17 January 1977) is an Australian screenwriter, producer, and actor. He is best known for writing movies directed by his friend James Wan, including Saw (2004), Dead Silence (2007), Death Sentence (2007), Insidious (2011) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013).

Whannell and Wan are the creators of the Saw franchise. Whannel wrote the first installment, co-wrote the second and third installments, was producer or executive producer for all the films, and appeared as the "Adam Stanheight" character in four of the installments.[1][self-published source?] He also acted as the writer of the Saw video game (2009), and the upcoming film Cooties.

Early life[edit]

Whannell was born in Melbourne, Australia, and believes that he inherited his love of storytelling from his mother and his fondness of filmmaking from his father, who was a cameraman in the television industry.[1]

Television[edit]

A writer since childhood, Whannell worked as a reporter and film critic for several Australian television shows, including ABC's Recovery, a Saturday morning youth-oriented program that was hosted by Dylan Lewis.[2][self-published source?] Whannell has described the show in a 2011 blog post:

The result was that instead of following the usual MTV ideal of what teenagers want in a TV show—“Hey kids, coming up next we’ve got some seriously WICKED windsurfing moves!!”—Recovery managed to tap into the so-called “alternative” movement that was in full swing at the time by giving teenagers what they actually want: genuine, unpolished anarchy.[3]

Whannell had originally auditioned for the host role, but was later employed as a reporter; Whannell's first interview was with Jackie Chan and he has stated that "Recovery is the best job I’ve ever had ..."[this quote needs a citation]

Film[edit]

In 2003, Whannell appeared in a minor role in The Matrix Reloaded, as well as the video game Enter The Matrix as the character "Axel".

While in film school, Whannell met Wan, who would eventually go on to direct the horror film Saw (co-written by Wan and Whannell) in 2004. After making a short film to showcase the intensity of the script, the feature film was made and became a low-budget sleeper hit in late 2004. Whannell played Adam Stanheight in the film, one of the main characters. The popularity of Saw led to a sequel, Saw II, which was directed and co-written by Darren Lynn Bousman, and on which Whannell co-wrote and revised Bousman's original script, titled The Desperate. Whannell also served as an executive producer.

Around the same time, Whannell returned to collaborate with Wan and they wrote a film called Dead Silence, which Wan directed. It was slated for a 2006 release, but small problems with the title pushed the release date back to March 2007, when it was released as Dead Silence. In 2006, the duo composed the story for Saw III, with Whannell writing the screenplay for the third time. It was again directed by Bousman and was released on 27 October 2006. Whannell has a featured cameo, reprising his role as Adam. Saw III was a huge financial success and raked in $33,610,391[4] on its opening weekend, making around $129,927,001 worldwide (after 38 days in cinemas) and is currently the most successful Saw film to date.

Whannell's writing partner, Wan, was chosen to direct the film Death Sentence, the first feature film with their participation that they did not write themselves. Whannell has a small role as Spink in Death Sentence.

Whannell (right) and James Wan (left) attending the Saw 3D premiere on 27 October 2010.

In 2008, Whannell took off his "writing hat" to perform alongside Nathan Phillips in Dying Breed, a low-budget Australian horror film about a team of zoologists exploring the Tasmanian wilderness to locate a creature thought extinct, the thylacine, aka Tasmanian tiger. Instead, they wander into the domain of cannibals who retain their ancestor Alexander Pearce's taste for human flesh, and become prey.

Before and during the production of Saw, Whannell sought medical treatment. "I was going through a bit of a tough time healthwise and suffering anxiety," says Whannell. "The anxiety manifested itself in physical ways. I was suffering headaches everyday for nearly a year. It was serious stuff and really started affecting my life." Spending time in a hospital inspired him to endow the lead antagonist of the Saw series, Jigsaw/John Kramer, with cancer. "It was weird to be 25 and sitting in a neurological ward and I'm surrounded by people who actually had brain tumors. It was very scary and it was my first proper look at mortality. I really wanted to get my health back and it really hammered home how important good health is. If you've got that, you've got everything."[5]

Whannell wrote the script for and acted in the 2011 paranormal thriller film, Insidious, which was directed by Wan and produced by Oren Peli.[6]

In relation to the Saw franchise, Whannell stated, also in 2011:

It's hard to day definitively, because we don't own the copyright for it. The producers could make 10 more if they wanted to. But, if we're to take them at face value, they told us that they were definitely done with it. They're pretty exhausted. They've been making one a year every year for the past seven years, so I think they need some time off.[7]

Media reports were published in mid-2013 in regard to Cooties, a film project that Whannell is an executive producer, actor and screenwriter for. The film's plot concerns an extreme virus that infects an isolated elementary school.[8] Numerous Internet sources then confirmed the forthcoming production of Insidious: Chapter 3 in October/November 2013, but the Screen Rant website was the only source to state that Whannell will be responsible for writing the script.[9]

Filmography[edit]

Actor[edit]

Producer[edit]

  • Saw II (2005)
  • Saw III (2006)
  • Saw IV (2007), Executive Producer
  • Saw V (2008), Executive Producer
  • Saw VI (2009), Executive Producer
  • Saw 3D (2010), Executive Producer
  • Cooties (2014), Executive Producer
  • The Mule (2014), Executive Producer

Writer[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Leigh Whannell". SuperiorPics.com. SuperiorPics.com. 2012. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Mickeyjuice (15 November 2006). "Leigh Whannell reviewing 'SpaceBalls' on Recovery (1998)". YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  3. ^ Whannell, Leigh (10 July 2011). "My Years In Recovery: A Sordid Tale Of Celebrity, Anarchy And Graffitied Footwear". The Word in the Stone. Leigh Whannell. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  4. ^ "Saw III". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  5. ^ Dercksen, Daniel (2007). "Facing Up To The Fear". The Writing Studio. Daniel E. Dercksen. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Barton, Steve (5 February 2010). "Saw Creators Get Insidious with Paranormal Team". Dread Central. Dread Central Media, LLC. Retrieved 2 October 2012. 
  7. ^ The Infamous Billy The Kidd (30 March 2011). "The Kidd Goes 2-On-1 With The Creators Of Saw, James Wan & Leigh Whannell, To Discuss Their New Film Insidious". InfamousKidd.com. InfamousKidd.com. WTF Productions. Retrieved 2 October 2012. [dead link]
  8. ^ Matt Molgaard (15 July 2013). "Leigh Whannell's 'Cooties' Cast Grows with Rainn Wilson and Alison Pill". Best-Horror-Movies.com. Best-Horror-Movies.com. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  9. ^ H. Shaw-Williams (November 2013). "‘Insidious: Chapter 3′ Scheduled for a Spring 2015 Release". Screen Rant. Screen Rant, LLC. Retrieved 21 February 2014. 

External links[edit]