Bound: 20 things you didn’t know about the Wachowskis’ debut

Revisiting the 90s classic.

Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly. As Corky and Violet in Bound. Image Dino De Laurentiis Company

1996 was a great year for film. Scream changed the face of horror as we know it, Fargo found a way to bring the Coen Brothers into the mainstream and Trainspotting told us to choose life. Sean Connery took Nic Cage to The Rock, while Jerry Maguire showed us the money and Independence Day took on a whole new meaning.

But in amongst the fanfare of what was a bumper year for film, a small modestly-funded project from two writers looking for their big break in Hollywood arrived: Bound.

Having previously worked as writers on the Sylvester Stallone action thriller Assassins, the Wachowskis were looking to make their mark as directors and decided to do so with a neo-noir lesbian love story/crime thriller that, to this day, remains as unique as ever.

It all kicks off when Jennifer Tilly’s Violet, the girlfriend of Joe Pantoliano’s psychopathic gangster Caesar, lays eyes on next door’s handywoman and recently released ex-con Corky, played by Gina Gershon. The two soon fall for each other and set about hatching a plan involving bloody revenge and cold hard cash.

Now, 20 years on its initial release, here are 20 thing you may not have known about the movie that helped The Matrix get made.


Joel Silver has always believed the Wachowskis made Bound as a means to demonstrate their abilities as both writers and directors.


The Wachowskis disagree, claiming they simply wanted to explore the idea of one woman making assumptions about another woman’s sexuality, while splicing in film noir elements from key influencers like Billy Wilder.


Several studios were unsure about the idea of a film with a central lesbian love story and offered to finance it if one of the characters was a man. The Wachowskis declined.


Dino De Laurentis agreed to finance the film to the tune of $6 million having been impressed with their work on the script for Sylvester Stallone action thriller Assassins.


Tilly originally read for the part of Corky with Terminator’s Linda Hamilton taking on the part of Violet. Marcia Gay Harden also auditioned.

Jennifer Tilly in Bound.
Jennifer Tilly One of the first actresses to sign on. Image Dino De Laurentiis Company


However, when Hamilton failed to sign on, Gershon came in to read for Corky with Tilly switching to the character of Violet.


Gershon then recommended Joe Pantoliano for the part of Caesar – it was his first lead role in a film and one he still regards as his favourite.


The cinematography of the film was heavily influenced by Frank Miller’s Sin City neo-noir graphic novels, which the Wachowskis were huge fans of.


Pantoliano prepared for his part by watching John Huston’s The Treasure of Sierra Madre and focusing on Humphrey Bogart’s paranoid performance as Fred C Dobbs.


Gershon cited her influences as Marlon Brando, Clint Eastwood and James Dean.

Gina Gershon in Bound.
Gina Gershon Only joined the project once Linda Hamilton left. Image Dino De Laurentiis Company


Tilly’s character took on almost feline characteristics, often adopting a high-pitched “girly” voice during scenes involving male characters, while a “swishing” noise can be heard every time she walks past the camera when they are planning the movie’s central theft.


Feminist writer and sex educator Susie Bright choreographed all of the lesbian scenes in the film and even appeared as an extra in a bar scene along with Corky.


The film’s main sex scene was filmed in one long continuous take.


Contrary to standard practice, almost the entire crew was present for the sex scenes, moving the walls of the set to allow the Wachowskis total directorial freedom.


Gershon and Tilly prepared for their sex scenes by drinking several shots of tequila.

Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly in Bound.
Corky and Violet. Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly left to right. Image Dino De Laurentiis Company


Very little of the dialogue in the film is improvised with the Wachowskis preferring the actors to keep strictly to the script.


The film took just 38 days to complete.


The film received an R rating, with the Motion Picture Association of America most concerned with several images simulating “hand sex”.


Barry Kivel, who plays Shelly, actually head-butted the toilet for real during one particularly violent scene that takes place in Caesar’s bathroom.


Despite some positive reviews, Bound actually made a loss at the box office, raking in $3.8 million. It has gone on to garner a cult following since and paved the way for The Matrix.

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