Leigh Whannell (born January 17, 1977) is an Australian screenwriter, producer and actor, best known for his work on the Saw and Insidious franchises.
He played Adam Stanheight in Saw and Saw III, David in the short film, was one of the writers of Saw, Saw II and Saw III and one of the executive producers of Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Saw V, Saw VI, Saw 3D and Jigsaw.
Leigh Whannell was born in Melbourne, Australia. He 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.
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. Whannell had originally auditioned for the host role, but was later employed as a reporter. His first interview was with Jackie Chan and he has stated that "Recovery is the best job I've ever had ..." Whannell later appeared in Episode 4 of the first season of the RMITV production What's Goin' On There? on June 10, 1998.
While in film school, Whannell met James Wan, who would eventually go on to direct the horror film Saw 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. They wrote a film called Dead Silence, which Wan directed. It was originally slated for a 2006 release, but small problems with the title pushed the release date back to March 2007. In 2006, the duo composed the story for Saw III. Whannell wrote the screenplay for the third time. It was again directed by Bousman and was released on October 27, 2006. Whannell had a featured cameo, reprising his role as Adam from the first film. Saw III grossed $33,610,391 on its opening weekend, making around $129,927,001 worldwide after 38 days in cinemas.
Whannell's writing partner, James Wan, was chosen to direct the film Death Sentence, the first feature film with their participation that they did not write themselves. In the film, Whannell had a small appearance in the role of Spink.
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.
Whannell wrote the script for and acted in the 2011 paranormal thriller film Insidious, which was directed by Wan and produced by Oren Peli. When being asked about the future of the Saw franchise, which came to a temporary end after the seventh film, Saw 3D, was released in 2010, Whannell stated: "It's hard to say 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."
Media reports were published in mid-2013 in regard to Cooties, a film project that Whannell was an executive producer, actor and screenwriter for. The film's plot concerned an extreme virus that infects an isolated elementary school. Whannell made his directing debut on the sequel of Insidious 2, Insidious: Chapter 3, in 2015, which he also wrote.
In 2014, Whannell expressed possible interest in returning to the Saw franchise. However, in a post on his personal blog in November 2013, Whannell described a new chapter beyond his partnership with Wan, as the director had finally reached his goal of making epic-style blockbuster productions. Whannel explained: "Now, he’s off making the films he’s always wanted to make - the big ones. I have no doubt that his name will be added to that special club of film directors that he’s always admired very soon. I’m so happy for him, like a proud father. And that is why it is the end of an era."
|2009||Saw: The Video Game||No||No||Yes|
|2013||Insidious: Chapter 2||Yes||No||Yes|
|2015||Insidious: Chapter 3||Yes||No||Yes|
|2000||Stygian||Clown / Punk Kid|
|2003||The Referees||Footy Mate|
|The Matrix Reloaded||Axel|
|Razor Eaters||Nick D.|
|One Perfect Day||Chris|
|2006||Saw III||Adam Stanheight|
|2009||The Last Supper||Philip|
|Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole||Jatt|
|2012||The Debt Collector||Donovan|
|The Pardon||Clement Moss|
|Insidious: Chapter 2||Specs|
|The Mule||Gavin Alastair Ellis|
|2015||Insidious: Chapter 3||Specs|
|2017||The Bye Bye Man||Larry|
|Keep Watching||Mysterious Guest|
|1999-2000||Blue Heelers||Jared Ryan|
|2013||Insidious: Spectral Sightings||Specs|
|2003||Enter the Matrix||Axel|
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