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Joe Wright
Joe Wright by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Wright at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con
Joseph Wright

(1972-08-25) 25 August 1972 (age 50)
London, England
Occupation Filmmaker
Years active 1997–present
(m. 2010; div. 2019)
Partner(s) Haley Bennett
Children 3

Joseph Wright (born 25 August 1972) is a British film director residing in Somerset, England. His motion pictures include the literary adaptations Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), Anna Karenina (2012), and Cyrano (2021), the action thriller Hanna (2011), Peter Pan origin story Pan (2015), and Darkest Hour (2017), a political drama following Winston Churchill during World War II nominated for Best Picture.

Early life and career

Wright always had an interest in the arts, especially painting. 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 went to Islington Green Secondary School, but left without any GCSEs.

He began his career working at his parents' puppet theatre, the Little Angel Theatre in Islington. 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 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.

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.

On the success of his first short film, he was offered the script for the serial Nature Boy (2000). He followed this up with the serials Bodily Harm (2002) with Timothy Spall and the highly acclaimed Charles II: The Power and the Passion (2003) with Rufus Sewell which won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama Serial.

Feature films

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 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.

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." 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 The film received an aggregate score of 65 from Metacritic, meaning it received generally positive reviews.

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. Saoirse Ronan and Andrea Riseborough were initially cast in the film, but dropped out and were replaced by Alicia Vikander and Ruth Wilson, respectively.

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. The film was negatively received by critics and was considered a commercial flop, failing to recoup its budget at the box office.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.

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. Wright said the film is a rebuke to Donald Trump.

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. 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.

Personal life

After meeting on the set of Pride & Prejudice, Wright began a relationship with actress Rosamund Pike. They were engaged from 2007 to 2008.

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, 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 as a judge concluded that Wright had committed ... and that his wife found living with him “intolerable.”

Since 2017, Wright has been in a relationship with American actress Haley Bennett. Their daughter, Virginia Willow, was born on 27 December 2018 in Brooklyn Heights. As of 2019, the family resides in the United Kingdom in Bruton, in Somerset.


Short film

  • Crocodile Snap (1997)
  • The End (1998)

Feature films

Year Title Distribution
2005 Pride & Prejudice Focus Features / Universal Pictures
2007 Atonement Universal Pictures
2009 The Soloist Paramount Pictures / Universal Pictures
2011 Hanna Focus Features / Sony Pictures Releasing
2012 Anna Karenina Focus Features
2015 Pan Warner Bros. Pictures
2017 Darkest Hour Focus Features / Universal Pictures
2021 The Woman in the Window Netflix
Cyrano United Artists Releasing / Universal Pictures


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"
TBA M. Son of the Century Miniseries

Commercial work

  • "Chanel No. 5: Wherever I Go" (2012)
  • "Chanel No. 5: There You Are" (2012)
  • "Coco Mademoiselle: Chanel" (2014)

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 (2021) Cyrano (2022)
Nonso Anozie YesY YesY
Brenda Blethyn YesY YesY
Michelle Dockery YesY YesY
Brian Tyree Henry YesY YesY
Tom Hollander YesY YesY YesY
Keira Knightley YesY YesY YesY
Matthew Macfadyen YesY YesY
Jena Malone YesY YesY
Ben Mendelsohn YesY YesY
Gary Oldman YesY YesY
Saoirse Ronan YesY YesY
Peter Wight YesY YesY
Olivia Williams YesY YesY
Valerio Bonelli YesY YesY YesY
Bruno Delbonnel YesY YesY
Jacqueline Durran YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY
Sarah Greenwood YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY
Dario Marianelli YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY
Seamus McGarvey YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY
Thomas Napper YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY
Katie Spencer YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY
Paul Tothill YesY YesY YesY YesY YesY

Awards and nominations

Year Title Academy Awards BAFTA Awards Golden Globe Awards
Nominations Wins Nominations Wins Nominations Wins
2005 Pride & Prejudice 4 6 1 2
2007 Atonement 7 1 14 2 7 2
2012 Anna Karenina 4 1 6 1 1
2017 Darkest Hour 6 2 9 2 1 1
2021 Cyrano 1 4 2
Total 22 4 39 6 13 3
Year Title Award Category Result
2005 Pride & Prejudice BAFTA Awards Most Promising Newcomer Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Best New Filmmaker Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Filmmaker Nominated
Empire Awards Best Director Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle British Newcomer of the Year Nominated
2007 Atonement BAFTA Awards Best Direction Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Best Director Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Director Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle Best Director Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Best Director Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Best Director Nominated
2021 The Woman in the Window Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Director Nominated

Directed Academy Award performances

Year Performer Film Result
Academy Award for Best Actor
2018 Gary Oldman Darkest Hour Won
Academy Award for Best Actress
2006 Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice Nominated
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
2008 Saoirse Ronan Atonement Nominated
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