AS Larry Wachowski, he changed cinema with the sci-fi film trilogy The Matrix. Now, as Lana Wachowski, Larry has become Hollywood's first top director publicly to change sex.
After a decade of rumour, the reborn director last week outed herself in a promotional video talking about Cloud Atlas, her forthcoming film based on a Booker-nominated novel by British author David Mitchell.
Appearing with younger sibling and co-director Andy, Lana, 47, had fuchsia dreadlocks, a diaphanous grey dress and, most puzzling of all, a breathy, slightly Germanic accent.
How far the sex change has gone remains uncertain, but employees at William Morris, the talent agency that looks after her, now refer to the director as Lana.
Most reviews of the six-minute trailer for Cloud Atlas have focused on the ambitious scope of the film rather than the equally striking appearance of the co-director. Described as the next Inception - the acclaimed Christopher Nolan blockbuster from 2010 - the film boasts dazzling special effects as well as a line-up of British thespians: in this case, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw. The two leads, played by Halle Berry and Tom Hanks, swap names and genders in a story of redemption across two centuries.
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Wachowski, who introduces herself in the promotional film with the words "Hi, I'm Lana", has been "transitioning" for several years, said the Los Angeles Times. Cloud Atlas will be her first directing credit under her new identity.
Larry Wachowski's colourful private life has long fascinated the media. His wife filed for divorce in 2002 after the director was photographed in the Dungeon, a Los Angeles S&M club.
He subsequently bought a mansion in San Francisco for $US2.7 million under the name Laurencia, an early indication the one-time carpenter from Chicago was changing his nature.
Lana is not the first director to change wardrobe. Ed Wood, famed for B-movie sci-fi films in the 50s, routinely dressed in his wife's clothing.