Director Joe Wright was born in London, where his father (who was 65 years old when Joe was born) and mother founded The Little Angel Theatre, a puppet theater in the borough of Islington. Wright was always interested in the arts, spending his time painting, making Super 8 films and performing in a drama club. He is dyslexic and left school with no GCSEs (qualification awards for specified subjects) but still managed to be successful. 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.
He spent a year there before enrolling in fine art and film at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design. In his final year, Wright made a short film for the British Broadcasting Corporation before moving on to direct television miniseries such as Nature Boy, Bob and Rose, Bodily Harm and Charles II: The Power & the Passion—the last of which won the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for Best Drama Serial. During the 1990s, he also worked at Oil Factory, a music video production company. He took on numerous roles on various music videos, including director and casting director.
Wright's feature film debut was a film adaptation of the novel Pride & Prejudice (2005), for which he won a BAFTA award as Most Promising Newcomer. His next project, Atonement (2007), received seven Golden Globe nominations, six Academy Award nominations (and one win for Best Original Score) and BAFTA Awards for Best Production Design and Best Film. He was also the youngest director ever to have a film in the Venice Film Festival. In 2012, Wright took on another classic with his big screen adpatation of Anna Karenina, based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy. For his leading lady, he once again turned to Keira Knightley, who starred in his first project, Pride & Prejudice.
However, he did not call on her services when the time came to film Pan (2015), instead directing Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara and Amanda Seyfried in the film based on the classic story of Peter Pan.
Joe completely changed genre with the biographical drama Darkest Hour (2017), starring Gary Oldman in an Oscar-winning portrayal as Winston Churchill. Next, the director brought life to the criminal drama The Woman in the Window (2020), bringing a new dimension to the novel by A.J. Finn. He again directed Oldman, in addition to Amy Adams and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
He lists British film director David Lean as an influence, and also occasionally tries to compose shots based on classical paintings. He was engaged to actress Rosamund Pike in September 2007, but called it off shortly before the wedding date. Three years later, in 2010, he married singer-songwriter Anoushka Shankar. They had two sons together before they divorced in May 2018. On December 31, 2018, his daughter with girlfriend Haley Bennett was born.
Anna Karenina (2012)
The Soloist (2009)
Pride & Prejudice (2005)