Keanu Reeves is jet-lagged. The 57-yr-old Hollywood lifer has just arrived in Los Angeles just after a flight from Jordan, wherever he was filming the fourth John Wick, a punishing franchise not exactly recognised for its leisurely rate. He has not been household in eight months, but rather of sleeping it off, he’s at a picture shoot. Fatigue sets in. He buries his eyes in his palms, trying to rub lifestyle back into his strained pupils soon after the constant pop, pop, pop of the camera’s flash.
Getting his image taken doesn’t rank substantial on Reeves’ checklist of preferred issues. It by no means has. But he appears to be like up and smiles when a pair of comforting hands rest on his shoulders: They belong to Carrie-Anne Moss, his longtime costar from the Matrix flicks, positioning herself behind him for the shot. There’s an simplicity between them that will come from 20-furthermore yrs of friendship — a friendship that started in the late ’90s when the pair fulfilled on the genre-redefining sci-fi movie that turned out to be so influential, it solitary-handedly launched phrases like “glitch in the Matrix” and “purple-pilling” to the pop lifestyle lexicon.
Moss phone calls their connection effortless. “We have been via this encounter alongside one another as companions,” claims the actress, 54. “The only way I can explain it is like a soul friendship.” Their unique bond produced 1999’s The Matrix what it is now, and The Matrix, in change, adjusted the training course of moviemaking on the eve of a new millennium.
That 1st film, motivated by then-geekier genres like cyberpunk and anime, envisioned a grim future in which our planet, unbeknownst to us, experienced been taken above by machines: Applying a simulated fact, artificial intelligence keeps people docile ample to harvest for electrical power. At the heart of this brainy significant idea was Reeves’ Neo, a bored place of work worker moonlighting as a computer hacker who escapes the simulation, and Moss’ Trinity, a female from the genuine earth with the capacity to jack into the Matrix — not to point out a talent for executing gravity-defying battle moves although clad in slick black leather.
Immediately after all these many years, neither star would’ve guessed that they’d be again collectively speaking about yet a different sequel, The Matrix Resurrections, which lands in theaters and on HBO Max Dec. 22. How could they? Sibling directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski, the architects of the franchise, were being company in their resolve that the 1st three installments would serve as a comprehensive trilogy, definitively ending in 2003 with The Matrix Revolutions… and (two-ten years-old spoiler inform!) with both Neo and Trinity dying at the stop.
When questioned why he agreed to return to the series just after a practically two-10 years hiatus, Reeves features a extremely uncomplicated explanation: “We had filmmakers who you needed to say indeed to,” he claims. Additionally, he adds, “[we had] product that you wished to commit to, to give every little thing that you could to.”
The precise journey to Resurrections, nonetheless, was a very little far more sophisticated than that. At a Berlin screenwriting panel back in September, Lana claimed that each individual year, Warner Bros. would check with her and Lilly to make a further Matrix motion picture, but they constantly declined. In 2017, screenwriter Zak Penn (X-Adult males: The Previous Stand, The Avengers) discovered that he was working on undisclosed Matrix initiatives with out the involvement of the Wachowskis, who had stepped absent from function filmmaking following the disastrous reception to 2015’s Jupiter Ascending. Lilly instructed The Hollywood Reporter in 2020 that company interference on her films pushed her to a “breaking point.” In its place of continuing her collaboration with Lana, she reported that she essential to “reconnect” with herself as an artist by going again to university and performing on other jobs.
“The Matrix was a groundbreaking movie and giving that legacy to somebody else I imagine [would have been a] horrendous oversight,” claims Jada Pinkett Smith, returning for Resurrections as her character Niobe from the initially two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
For Lana, it was a collection of tragic, existence-altering gatherings that at some point improved her brain: the loss of life of her mom and dad and a close friend. “I did not definitely know how to method that variety of grief,” she explained at the Berlin panel. “I hadn’t skilled it that closely.” The Matrix‘s characters gave her ease and comfort: “I couldn’t have my mother and dad, yet all of a sudden I had Neo and Trinity, arguably the two most critical characters in my existence.”
Profound private alter has usually been central to the Matrix universe. The Wachowskis came out as trans and underwent gender reassignment surgical treatment in the several years given that Reloaded and Revolutions both of those hit theaters in 2003. This awakening may have been an unspoken portion of The Matrix because the starting Reeves remembers an early draft of the original script that highlighted a character who entered the Matrix earth as a distinctive sexual intercourse. “I consider the studio wasn’t completely ready for that,” he says.
“Technology paradoxically introduced us closer with each other although also isolating or inculcating us from just about every other,” Lana Wachowski, 56, writes to EW. (In a extremely Matrix-like go, the director did not sit for an job interview, preferring to communicate through e-mail.) “The electrical power of technological know-how to lure or limit our subjective reality was an significant part of the new narrative for Matrix Resurrections.” She describes that “the story [for Resurrections] exploded relatively fully fashioned” from her intellect. Neo and Trinity are seemingly alive and well, but their minds are locked absent within the Matrix, which has come to be more dangerous. They have no evident memory of their previous, still Neo is haunted by it. He sees flashes of what transpired in the prior films in his goals, in what he thinks is everyday lifetime.
That life now incorporates Bugs (Star Wars: The Drive Awakens‘ Jessica Henwick), a blue-haired gunslinger with a white rabbit tattoo. When she crosses Neo’s path, we get much more clues about just why Lana felt so compelled to return to The Matrix. (There is certainly also a pretty meta treatment of that pretty query in the movie.) “Art is a mirror,” Wachowski writes. “Most will like to gaze at the surface area but there will be persons like me who get pleasure from what lies at the rear of the searching glass. I produced this motion picture for them.”
Henwick, 29, claims “a new tone” and “a new glimpse” that tends to make Resurrections much more vivid and “joyous.” Reeves, also, was “struck by how considerably humor is in it” — but that won’t signify Neo will be cracking quips like Tony Stark. “It can be throwing down the Matrix gauntlet once again it’s tremendous clever, clever, entertaining, suspenseful, and humorous,” he says. Provides Watchmen and Candyman star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, 35, who plays Morpheus, a distinct variation of Neo’s mentor originated by Laurence Fishburne: “Out of all of the sci-fi items that I’ve finished, Matrix is the just one that is the most grounded in truth, ironically. There are all of the higher ideas bordering The Matrix in our tale, but seriously you will find so significantly coronary heart and humanity that is driving this narrative.”
Emphasis on heart. “Not that it essential it,” suggests Reeves, “but unquestionably the depth of why this movie obtained designed is the perception of it getting a really like story concerning Trinity and Neo.” It was Lana’s deep link to the people that resonated with her stars. Reeves remembers the dialogue when Lana first instructed him about her thought for another sequel. “It was one particular of those people phone phone calls exactly where even though you happen to be at home, you stand up,” he suggests.
For her part, Moss saw the new movie as a uncommon “prospect to embody” Lana’s love. “I have under no circumstances felt that way ahead of, wherever I could see that I am an extension of her coronary heart in taking part in this function,” she suggests. Provides Jonathan Groff (Frozen, Hamilton), 36, who performs a go well with who could be more than he appears to be: “When I read through the script for this motion picture I cried, mainly because the concept of looking at these two iconic actors in these two iconic pieces coming back and fighting to have their enjoy again just wrecked me.”
In the 22 many years because The Matrix to start with strike theaters, audiences have never stopped wrestling with its themes — about breaking no cost from oppressive programs and opening one’s intellect to concealed truths. However, a single issue that everyone can concur on is the innovative impact the sequence has experienced on sci-fi tropes, specifically when it arrives to action scenes, and Resurrections doesn’t disappoint.
Filming started in February 2020, and the many cloak-and-dagger attempts to preserve one of the most expected productions in several years a top secret failed to rather perform out: Bystanders leaked on social media a scene that was shot in San Francisco in which Reeves and Moss stand at the edge of a constructing a lot more than 40 floors significant, swarmed by missile-launching helicopters, with no alternative but to jump. According to stunt coordinator Scott Rogers, who also labored with Reeves on the 3rd and fourth installments of John Wick, Lana observed this sequence as a metaphor for the full film. “For her, the studio, the actors, all people,” he says, “you might be having this leap of religion.” Counters Reeves: “We have an extraordinary filmmaker, a visionary, these remarkable roles with the variety of storytelling and strategies and promotion of imagined. A leap of religion? We have a lot of faith in that leap.”
Moss claims she had “a good deal of obstructions to prevail over” just before she was able to do the scene. She sat down at a desk with her husband just before the shoot to go over it. “He is like, ‘You truly gonna do this?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, totally. I never know how I’m going to get there, but I know I’m likely to get there.'”
“If we’re there, it truly is not a stunt,” jokes Reeves, indicating the stunt execs are the kinds who basically do the harmful stuff. “But Scott established up a situation where by we could do it. So, we did.” Moss acknowledges how her actual physical abilities have transformed from 20 many years in the past when she was filming shut-quarter combat scenes with additional simplicity. It was about “respecting that time has passed, that my body’s experienced three young children,” she says. “But I also appreciated that problem.”
Henwick experienced her personal leap of faith to consider. Finest known for actively playing Nymeria Sand on Video game of Thrones and Colleen Wing on Iron Fist, she was up for a function in Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings at the very same time she was up for the part of Bugs. Both Disney and Warner Bros. understood about the other supply and gave her an ultimatum: She could audition for their motion picture only if she forfeited the competing challenge. Neither role was guaranteed. “It was a red-capsule/blue-tablet instant for me,” she suggests.
Henwick sees Bugs as “the audience’s eyes” into Resurrections, which is how one particular may well seem at all of the actors new to The Matrix. Abdul-Mateen credits Reeves for “pushing us and location the normal” for the function. Groff concurs. “[Keanu] taught me so substantially about the settlement of two people to hit every single other, but not hurt each individual other,” the Broadway-properly trained actor states. “When our battle was about, I felt deeply related to him in a physical way.” It can be not shed on Groff, who arrived out publicly as homosexual in 2009, that he is associated in these an action-weighty movie when queer persons have not largely been welcomed into that space. That’s a different testomony to Wachowski, who brought back lots of crew customers from Sense8, a sequence that prominently highlighted LGBTQ stories, though welcoming new faces into her resourceful spouse and children.
To the two actors who know her best, Lana felt like a distinctive director in some techniques. Reeves remembers that on the original trilogy, she was “additional powering the monitor” but “still fingers-on.” With Resurrections, “she was collaborating more with the movement of the digicam, and more interested in performing than rehearsing.” It was a lot less about prep and a lot more about everyone’s readiness to obtain the surprising in the instant. Reeves confesses they “barely rehearsed, if at all.”
In other ways, doing the job on Resurrections was like reuniting with an outdated mate. At the time Lana known as “Motion!” Moss states she went appropriate back again to where by she was with Reeves in the authentic motion picture. “Most of my scenes are with Keanu, and it was just a enjoyment to sit across from him and do that all over again,” she claims, as she and Reeves sit aspect by side in matching director’s chairs. “He has a masterful comprehending of action. I’ve watched him mature in the previous 20 several years. I’m in awe of it.”
Reeves shakes his head again and forth as she speaks, silently protesting. “But you’ve bought a taste,” he responds. “It is Trinity! It can be Carrie-Anne Moss, Trinity flavor. All the fierceness and brain, emphasis, commitment is there in the gestures. Untamed and wild and controlled.”
Right after all these several years, it’s nevertheless a flavor we are unable to get sufficient of. Prior to Moss and Reeves alter into their upcoming outfits for the picture shoot, they slip away, catching up on each individual other’s lives due to the fact building Resurrections. They drive through the studio’s back exit, flooding the darkened home with afternoon sunshine. Followers of the films could possibly instantly imagine of the doorway of mild, a portal Neo would use to slip into the electronic “backdoor” of the Matrix. But that’s not quite it. “They are getting a cigarette crack,” a crew member suggests. In this universe, even the most relaxed of exits seems to be amazing.
Movement path and images by Dan Winters for EW. DP and Post-generation Alex Themistocleous Generation: Michelle Stark Extra write-up-creation: Ethan Bellows Structure: Chuck Kerr Established design and style: Ed Murphy Reeves’ styling: Jeanne Yang/The Wall Group Hair: Nina Paskowitz Makeup: Geri Oppenheim Moss’ styling: Sydney Lopez/Two Administration Hair: Sunnie Brook/Forward Atists Make-up: Patti Dubroff/Forward Artists. Include seem: Reeves: Jacket: Hermes Shirt: James Perse Moss: Gown: Jonathan Simkhai Earrings: Nouvel Heritage.