The Matrix franchise has been around for over two decades now and first debuted in 1999. Now, this December, the franchise has come forward with the announcement of its fourth installment starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Keanu Reeves will be once again undertaking his role as Neo, fourth time running, but you would be surprised to know that he was not the first choice for the character. Fans have been awaiting the fourth film in the franchise with bated breaths, hoping for it to exceed expectations and become a cinematic masterpiece to be remembered for years to come.
While the film continues to be a mass phenomenon even today, the beginning days of the franchise in production were quite bleak as not many people saw the genius behind the story. In fact, Will Smith, the first choice for the character of Neo, passed away on the chance thinking it would not suit him.
The Wachowski siblings presented the role pitch to Will Smith, but he declined it to work in Wild, Wild West, a film that barely made a dent at the box office. Of course, Keany Reeves turned out to be exactly the person who could do justice to the role and made history with his iconic portrayal of the character. Recently, Reeves even went on to thank the star for passing on the role and letting him get to work in the franchise that would one day define cyberpunk cinema.
In his Thanksgiving speech, the actor said, “It was such a wonderful creative experience and so to play Neo in the trilogy and now in the fourth — it impacted my life personally and creatively," and added, "Thank you very much,” directed to Will Smith.
While Will Smith definitely could have done better than Wild, Wild West, the actor appreciates the genius of the Wachowski siblings and shares no hard feelings. Adding an element of drama to the film's shorts, he proposed, “So dude, we’re thinking, like, imagine you’re in a fight and you, like, jump. Imagine if you could, like, stop, middle of the jump. But then, people could see around you, 360 while you’re jumping but while you stop jumping. And then we’re gonna invent these cameras so people can see the whole jump while you stop, middle of the jump.” And simply added, "I would have messed The Matrix up. I would have ruined it. So I did y’all a favor,”
Keanu Reeves already had a satisfying career prior to landing the role with films like "Speed" (1994) and "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (1989), along with the spin-off series "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures." His acting era has come to be known as "The Keanaissance." The actor is also particularly known for the "John Wick'' series.
Carrie-Anne Moss, who portrayed Trinity, a member of the hacking squad and then love interest of Neo, also came from a successful acting background and later starred in "Memento" (2000), as Detective Olivia Neal in "The Crew'' (2000), and Caroline Clairmont in "Chocolat" (2000). The lady has also dabbled in some silver screen work playing Jeryn Hogarth in Daredevil by Marvel. She worked in "Iron Fist," "The Defenders," and "Jessica Jones." Her recent credits include Rebecca Pruitt in "Tell Me a Story" and FBI agent Maggie Griffin on "Wisting."
Laurence Fishburne played Morpheus in the franchise and eventually brought the reality of the Matrix dawning in on Neo. The character was loosely inspired by Morpheus, a character in "Sandman," comics by Neil Gaiman. The Wachowskis specifically asked the actor to follow in behind the comic character. The star also worked in John Wick as Bowery kind and then was seen on TV in "Black-ish." His other credits include Jack Crawford on "Hannibal," Alex Haley on "Roots," Nelson Mandela on "Madiba," and Pops on "Grown-ish" and "Black-ish."
Chad Stahleski, who later directed John Wick, was Keanu Reeves' stunt double in The Matrix. Sharing his joy and getting to see the fourth installment, he said, “I’m super happy that the Wachowskis are not just doing a ‘Matrix,’ but they’re expanding what we all loved." He told Yahoo, “And if it’s anywhere near the level of what they’ve already done, it wouldn’t take more than a call to go, ‘Hey, we want you to be a stunt guy,' and I would probably go and get hit by a car.”
It would be great to see how the franchise unfolds further.