Also Credited As:Len Ryan Wiseman
About Len Wiseman
Born on March 4, 1973 in Fremont, CA, Wiseman grew up reading comics and dreaming of becoming a filmmaker; his later cinematic vision benefiting greatly from those early days of flipping through DC and Marvel. He had a particular interest in genre films, which would clearly inform his career choices later on. After graduating from Fremont's American High School, Wiseman studied film at De Anza College in San Jose, CA, making two short films there - the second of which helped him land his first professional gig.
He began his film career by starting in the art department on a string of director Roland Emmerich's films. While serving as props assistant on such films as "Stargate" (1994), "Independence Day" (1996), and "Godzilla" (1998), Wiseman absorbed the inner workings of big budget Hollywood productions, later crediting an awareness of some of the more wasteful elements of such films as helpful in planning his future film debut.
Building on his art department background, Wiseman next transitioned into directing short form projects. After helming design-heavy commercials for such clients as PlayStation, Time Warner, and Activision, he moved into directing music videos for a diverse array of musical artists, including such acts as metal-heavy Megadeth and R&B divas, En Vogue. Wiseman also directed videos for somewhat lesser known bands, including Static-X and Brooke Allison. His highly visual style eventually caught on with viewers and critics, garnering him video award nominations - including Best Art Direction for Quarashi's "Stick 'Em Up" at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards and Best Director for Rufus Wainwright's "Across the Universe" at the Music Video Production Association (MVPA) Awards.
More importantly, his director's reel attracted the attention of Dimension Films, who, being a company very impressed with his stylistic screen visions, approached Wiseman to make a modern werewolf movie. While Dimension eventually went with another more tested director for their werewolf film, the offer got Wiseman and his friends/co-creators, Kevin Grevioux and Danny McBride, to thinking - the only way to make their werewolf movie truly unique would be to pit the werewolves against an equally strong opponent - vampires. After developing the script, they brought the newly titled "Underworld" to Lakeshore Entertainment to see if this film company would bite.
Wiseman's elaborate drawings of contemporized monsters and cool urban settings helped the film gain the attachments it needed, including glamorous star Kate Beckinsale. At the time, the part of a "Death Dealer" - a vampire assassin bent on exterminating enemy werewolves - was largely against type for the proper British actress, but she warmed to both her character's butt-kicking strengths, as well as the director's unique vision.
Wiseman's greatest challenge in making "Underworld" was entirely monetary. A script this chock full of special effects and gothic sets would have typically budgeted at $60 million, rather than the approximately $22 million "Underworld" was allotted. At the same time, the director aimed to make a slick "living graphic novel" and didn't want to sacrifice the look he had envisioned. Utilizing his earlier experiences on wasteful past projects, Wiseman focused on such budget-cutting techniques as using sound effects as a replacement for visual gore and an almost exclusive use of practical special effects.
Prior to the film's release, good buzz was such that the "Underworld" trailer became Sony.com's most downloaded (at the time), barely surpassing that of "Spider-Man" (2002). "Underworld" went on to gross nearly $100 million worldwide at the box office and made even more upon its DVD release.
For Wiseman, there was an even greater outcome than his feature film hitting big. While on set, he and Beckinsale fell in love. The attractive couple tied the knot in Los Angeles in May, 2004, making their home in the grungy artist-centric city of Venice Beach rather than the tonier neighborhoods of other inland celebrities.
The success of "Underworld" led to the inevitable sequel. Though budgeted at approximately twice that of the original film, "Underworld: Evolution" (2006) brought in as much box office take as its less expensive predecessor. Still profitable, it was not the runaway success that Wiseman's debut was. The difference being, this film included more digital effects and more gore. Still, in comparison to other similar genre films, Wiseman had kept these elements to a minimum, focusing on what worked in the original "Underworld" - namely, expanding the love story between his now wife and co-star Scott Speedman. No sooner had the second film premiered, when Wiseman was said to be in talks for episode three of the dark, blood-thirsty franchise.
|Kate Beckinsale. Met when he directed her in "Underworld" (2003); married May 9, 2004 in Los Angeles, CA|
|Lily Mo Sheen. Born in 1999; father is Welsh actor Michale Sheen|
|American High School, Fremont , California|
|De Anza College, San Jose , California|
|Co-wrote and produced "Underworld: Awakening"; third film collaboration with Beckinsale|
|Directed the pilot episode of CBS reboot of "Hawaii Five-0"|
|Produced the prequel "Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans"|
|Directed Bruce Willis in "Live Free or Die Hard," the fourth "Die Hard" sequel|
|Helmed the sequel "Underworld: Evolution"; also executive produced|
|Made screenwriting and directing debut with the cult movie "Underworld," starring Kate Beckinsale|
|Earned an MTV award for Best Art Direction for Quarashi's "Stick 'Em Up"|
|Directed music videos for groups such as En Vogue and Megadeth|
|Directed advertisements for PlayStation console games|
|Began career in the art department, working on director Roland Emmerich's blockbuster hits, such as "Stargate"(1994) and "Independence Day" (1996)|