The world has changed and so has The Matrix.
It’s been 18 years since we last followed Neo’s (Keanu Reeves) journey through life in the Matrix. Just like the way we approach technology in the real world has evolved, so has the phenomenon that changed the world.
Now that the franchise is back, it’s filled with both changes and similarities to the original with an update to characters like Morpheus, who was originally portrayed by Laurence Fishburne and now has a new meaning through Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Much like the journey through life teaches us lessons, the stars of The Matrix Resurrections explain how being a part of such a legendary film franchise has changed their lives.
Shadow and Act recently spoke to Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
Chopra-Jones was in her prime teen years when 'The Matrix' first came out and now life comes full-circle for the actress who plays Sati in 'The Matrix Resurrections.'
“I remember being like 16 or 17 when the first one came out and I remember how it sort of shifted pop culture and how movies and visual effects changed after that,” she told Shadow and Act. “So it was very exciting to be a part of the movie and to get invited to the playground as a new kid on the block which is why I took the responsibility of my character very seriously. Sati was strategically placed in the last movie as a foreshadowing of what’s to come in the next one. It only took 18 years to make that next one.”
Leaning heavily on the film’s writer and director, Lana Wachowski, Chopra-Jones was able to better understand not only her character’s purpose but a lot about her own life’s purpose in the process.
“I asked that question to myself every day, ‘What is my life’s purpose?’” she recalled. “I think what I’ve realized is that I’m most useful to the world when I use the platform that I have for promoting art, for promoting people’s voices. I think that my purpose now, especially being in the entertainment business, is to use this large and massive reach for good.”
Along with Chopra-Jones, there were more new kids on the block for the return of The Matrix franchise.
Much like it was a dream come from true for her, the same sentiments apply for Groff as Agent Smith and Henwick who plays Bugs.
“It’s surreal and it’s trippy,” expressed Henwick. “I am a huge fan of the original because it really blew my mind and I know that Lana and Lilly were approached hundreds of times over the years to make another one. They’ve always said ‘no’ so I really never thought it was going to happen, let alone that I would get to be a part of it.”
On the other hand, Groff was not only excited to have a role in bringing the new film to life but says that the experience was very cathartic for him.
“I became a part of myself that I’ve never tapped into before,” he explained as he reflected on training for the epic fight scenes. “There was this huge fight training aspect of it where it was strong, heavy punches that were very brutal, yet also cathartic and really, really fun.”
Abdul-Mateen is now Morpheus, but he has made it clear that his character isn’t the same as the one that was portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in the previous installments of 'The Matrix' franchise.
In fact, while Morpheus was on the path of self-discovery, art imitated life because the same applied to Abdul-Mateen who says that he learned to not be afraid of change during the making of the film.
“Don’t be afraid to switch it up,” he said. “Sometimes in order to get real change you have to really thrust yourself into that change, you have to make a complete 180 or you have to really just jump forward. I think that the way that Morpheus reintroduced himself to the world, in that gold suit or just coming out with the colors and making a bold physical fashion statement, was his way of saying that this is my rebirth.”
He further explains how and why Morpheus came out of the gate swinging in order to really change up the rhythm of what lovers of the film franchise may be used to. Abdul-Mateen also explains how this rebirth will be applied to his own life.
“I think you’ve got to do that in life in order to really change up the rhythms and to kind of put yourself on a different path so I think that’s something that I’ll probably take with myself, maybe not in my fashion or wardrobe, but maybe in other areas of life. I’ll figure it out.”
While 'The Matrix Resurrections' has some new characters and an obvious new approach to the overall story, some things remain the same like the film’s legends Reeves and Moss, who plays Trinity.
The new film is a reflection of society and its current relationship with technology. As the world has evolved, so does the way we depend on the tools and resources that can be used to connect us.
Eighteen years have passed since the last installment, The Matrix Reloaded, and now there will be a whole new generation of filmgoers who will be introduced to the world of the Matrix through this new chapter. Moss explains why she wants them to have their own perception of what it all means rather than imposing her thoughts as a character within the film.
“I’m more interested in what they might think or feel,” she shared. “I’m curious, but I’m not looking to import anything on them. Instead, I’d like to receive what the conversations or the ideas around it might be or the reactions to [the film].”
For Reeves, the sentiments are the same and he says that their return to the set was everything that he expected it would be.
“It was wonderful, I loved every minute of it,” said Reeves.
The Matrix Resurrections premieres in theaters and will be available for streaming on HBO Max starting December 22.
Watch the interviews below: