Movie Trivia: 25 Essential Matrix Series Facts
Twenty-one years ago, THE MATRIX changed everything about action movies. The Wachowski siblings, who were relatively unknown at the time, created a mind-bending story in which a young man learns that his entire reality is a construct — and then joins the fight against machines who use humans as an energy source. They fused inspiration from comic books, martial arts movies and heady '70s science fiction to create a vision that still resonates today.
Now Lana Wachowski is working on THE MATRIX 4 (which probably won't be the final title) for a planned April 1, 2022 release. Original stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss will return for a continuation of the original trilogy, the story for which is being kept tightly under wraps.
While we wait for more details of the new Matrix movie to slip out from under the watchful eyes of the machines, we're looking back at the original series. How much do you know about THE MATRIX? Read our collection of essential MATRIX trivia to find out.
1. The Wachowskis wrote fourteen drafts of THE MATRIX over more than five years. It took a lot of effort to convince studio executives to make the movie, and the siblings made the movie BOUND in part to prove their abilities.
2. When convincing Warner Bros. to make THE MATRIX, storyboards and art designs were key to selling the concept, so the Wachowskis brought on famed comic book artist Geof Darrow to contribute concepts. His images of the "human farm," the squid-like Sentinels and the ship Nebuchadnezzar were translated almost exactly to the screen.
3. While extensive computer-generated effects were used in THE MATRIX, many props were real. A team spent 12 weeks designing and building the "bug extractor" that Trinity uses on Neo.
4. While most effects-based movies still used miniatures when THE MATRIX was shot, the Wachowskis primarily used CGI effects rather than miniatures.
5. While THE MATRIX used many locations in Sydney, Australia, it also repurposed sets from the movie DARK CITY, which deals with similar themes.
6. For scenes set inside the Matrix, green colors were emphasized, while all scenes in the "real" world emphasized blue and avoided green, which created unique challenges for the crew on location.
7. Among the many actors approached to play Neo was Will Smith, who turned down the role. He made WILD WILD WEST instead.
8. Before Keanu Reeves signed on as Neo, Sandra Bullock turned down the role of Trinity. Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura said they even offered the Neo role to Bullock, who passed on what might have been a reunion with here SPEED co-star.
9. The Wachowskis have a sense of humor; when Neo falls while trying to jump off a rooftop, they based the scene on the mishaps of Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote.
10. Yuen Woo-Ping, a famed Hong Kong stunt coordinator, was approached to work on the film, but refused multiple offers. Eventually, he accepted only after being promised total control over the movie's fight scenes, and that he could spend months training the cast, which no American production had ever offered.
11. The primary cast spent four months training for the movie's fight scenes — far longer than was typical at the time — from October 1997 to March 1998.
12. In Greek mythology, Morpheus is the god of dreams.
13. Costuming was essential to creating layers of reality in THE MATRIX; Neo's shabby suits in early scenes were designed to suggest that he doesn't exactly "fit" in the world.
14. For most of Trinity's fight scenes and wirework, Carrie-Anne Moss performed stunts herself.
15. The "bullet time" effect was created using an extensive array of still cameras arranged around the actor, with a specially-customized lens for each camera.
16. Trinity's opening action scene took four days to shoot.
17. The name of Morpheus' ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, references King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon, who is obsessed with decoding in which a statue made of metals, but with feet of clay, is toppled and shattered by a rock which becomes a mountain.
18. The lobby shootout took about ten days to shoot, and with the exception of stunt wires being painted out digitally, all of the effects were real, and the cast did most of their own stunts.
19. THE MATRIX did well in theatrical release, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time (until the release of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST) and fandom for the movie further developed thanks to the movie's release on DVD, when that format was still very new.
20. Sequels THE MATRIX RELOADED and. THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS were produced back to back, and the Wachowskis also wrote and directed an hour of live-action footage for the tie-in video game ENTER THE MATRIX.
21. A two-mile loop of three-lane highway, complete with exit ramps and signs, was paved and finished at the decommissioned Alameda Naval Air Station for the highway chase in THE MATRIX RELOADED. The sequence took seven weeks to shoot.
22. The 300 cars used in the highway chase were donated by GM — and all were destroyed in the making of the sequence.
23. In THE MATRIX RELOADED, the fight scene between Neo and dozens of Agent Smith replicas, nicknamed the Burly Brawl, took 27 days to shoot.
24. Keanu Reeves gave a Harley Davidson motorcycle to each member of the stunt team involved in the Burly Brawl. He also donated millions of dollars of his salary to crew members.
25. THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS had a simultaneous worldwide opening, down to the minute, meaning shows in major cities like Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia (where the films were shot) took place at unorthodox hours very early in the morning and late at night.
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All images courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.