Get ready to enter the Matrix with these interesting Matrix trivia facts about the legendary franchise.
In 1999, the sci-fi movie The Matrix amazed and dazzled both fans and critics. The Wachowski’s film stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, and Carrie-Anne Moss. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about the Matrix.
The Matrix Was Originally Intended To Be A Comic Book
Before the Wachowskis were famous filmmakers, they were comic book writers living in Chicago in the early 1990s. The Wachowskis specialized in horror stories and were behind famous titles likes Ectokid and Clive Barker‘s Hellraiser for Razorline and Epic Comics, both divisions of Marvel Comics.
The idea for The Matrix came to the Wachowskis while they were brainstorming new graphic novel ideas. The story was too good to be a comic, and they wanted to turn it into a film, but they didn’t have enough credibility in Hollywood, yet.
The Wachowskis first Hollywood project was an opportunity to write the screenplay for the Richard Donner directed film Assassins (1995) starring Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas, and Julianne Moore. It’s through that experience that the Wachowskis got to meet legendary producer Joel Silver. But just because they could write a script, didn’t mean they could direct a film. So for their first full production, the Wachowskis wrote and directed the lesbian crime thriller Bound (1996) starring Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, and Joe Pantoliano. The film got everyone’s attention, and they finally got the opportunity to turn The Matrix into their next film project.
Years later, the Wachowskis were able to create a series of comic book stories for The Matrix, including a prequel called Bits And Pieces Of Information. The title is from a Morpheus quote from the first Matrix movie where he first tells Neo about the Matrix:
“We have only bits and pieces of information but what we know for certain is that at some point in the early twenty-first century all of mankind was united in celebration. We marveled at our own magnificence as we gave birth to AI.”
NERD NOTE: It took the Wachowskis over five years and fourteen screenplay drafts to create the final script for The Matrix.
Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Nicolas Cage, Leonardo DiCaprio, David Duchovny, Ewan McGregor, And Johnny Depp Were All Contenders For The Role Of Neo Before Keanu Reeves
It’s hard to imagine anyone else besides Keanu Reeves in the lead role of Neo, but Reeves was not the first choice by either the studio or production team. There were several other actors that were considered for Neo before Reeves even got an opportunity to accept the role.
- Johnny Depp was The Wachowskis first choice for Neo, but Warner Bros. said no. They wanted Brad Pitt.
- Brad Pitt chose Fight Club instead.
- Will Smith didn’t understand The Wachowskis pitch, which was mostly about “bullet time”, and passed on The Matrix to make the movie Wild Wild West. But if he had said yes, then Val Kilmer would have been their first choice to play Morpheus.
- Val Kilmer went on to make At First Sight
- David Duchovny from the X-Files was also in consideration, but he was already involved in the movie for the X-Files (1998).
- Ewan McGregor had to turn down The Matrix because he was already committed to Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999).
- Nicholas Cage declined a role in The Matrix due to family reasons. The film was shot in Australia and, because of the fight training for the action scenes and the amount of special effects, Cage would have been away from his family for an extended period of time.
- Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the role of Neo because he was worried about the amount of visual effects in the film..
- With their first choices out of the running, Warner Bros. shifted their support behind Keanu Reeves. He was very excited about the role and ultimately beat out Johnny Depp. But don’t feel bad for Depp. A couple of years later, he accepted the role of Captain Jack in one of the most successful movie franchises in history, Pirates of the Caribbean.
Sandra Bullock, Gillian Anderson, And Janet Jackson All Turned Down The Role Of Trinity
Carrie-Anne Moss was perfectly cast in the role of Trinity, but similar to Keanu Reeves, she also wasn’t the producer’s first, or even second choice.
While Will Smith was the front-runner for the role of Neo, Sandra Bullock was approached to play Trinity. Bullock turned it down because didn’t think that she would have good on screen chemistry with Will Smith.
In a 2009 interview with InStyle, Bullock regretted her decision. After Will Smith dropped out, Keanu Reeves became the front-runner for the role. If Bullock hadn’t declined, it would have reunited her with Reeves, her costar in Speed (1994).
There haven’t been any roles that I wanted that I didn’t get, but there was a movie I wish I had done: The Matrix. At the time, it wasn’t cast with Keanu, and I didn’t see myself with the person they wanted. Later I saw the movie and loved it. It was sexy and great because of Carrie-Anne and Keanu.InStyle (Feb 10, 2009)
X-Files star Gillian Anderson was also approached to be Trinity, but she turned it down.
The Wachowskis wanted Janet Jackson to play Trinity. Unfortunately, Jackson was already committed to the promotion of her 6th studio album, The Velvet Rope, and had to turn down an acting role in The Matrix.
But that wasn’t the only opportunity from Hollywood that Jackson passed up. At the time, Jackson was a hot commodity and turned down several big roles from Hollywood, so she could focus on her music, including Jerry Maguire, Scream 3, and X-Men. In hindsight, that probably wasn’t the best decision on her part.
Ultimately, the role would go to Carrie-Anne Moss, and the rest is history.
Carie-Ann Moss Was Also In A 1993 TV Show Called Matrix
Six years before being cast as Trinity in The Matrix, Carrie-Anne Moss costarred in a 1993 Canadian TV series also called Matrix. The fantasy adventure series is about a hitman that starts helping people instead of killing them after a near-death experience.
Sean Connery Turned Down The Role Of The Architect In The Matrix Because He Didn’t Understand The Script
Legendary James Bond actor, Sean Connery, was offered the role of The Architect in The Matrix Reloaded. But he turned down the part because he couldn’t understand the script. The role went to actor Helmut Bakaitis instead.
Really!? Connery was the star of Zardoz, one of the weirdest sci-fi movies ever made. But he didn’t understand The Matrix? Go figure.
Sean Connery is often said to have been considered for the role of Morpheus in The Matrix, which is incorrect. He was only considered for the role of The Architect. A lot of other websites get this piece of Matrix trivia wrong.
Laurence Fishburne Thought The Script For The Matrix Was “So Smart” That The Movie Would Never Get Made
Sean Connery didn’t understand the script, but Laurence Fishburne definitely did. Fishburne really liked the script a lot but doubted whether the movie would ever be made, because it was “so smart”. He thought it might be too hard for audiences to understand.
The Role Of Morpheus Also Had Plenty Of Contenders
Casting actors for The Matrix was a difficult experience. All the parts had multiple contenders, including the role of Morpheus.
Russell Crowe, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson were all considered for Morpheus. Russell Crowe had trouble understanding the script and turned down the role. In an interview, he said, “I just didn’t get it. I couldn’t get past page 42. That world was just not interesting to me.” He went on to make the award-winning film The Insider instead.
But similar to Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne‘s enthusiasm for the role played a major factor in his casting.
INXS Singer Michael Hutchence Was Cast In The Matrix, But Died Before Production Began
Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of the popular Australian band INXS, was cast in a major role in The Matrix. Acting was his first love and something that he continued to do even after his band became famous. Unfortunately, he died from an accidental hanging only days after finding out that he was cast in the film.
The Matrix Cast Went Through Four Months Of Intense Martial Arts Fight Training Before Filming Began
Because of the amount of fight scenes in The Matrix, the actors all had to attend fight training. To help get the actors ready, the producers hired legendary Hong Kong battle choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping.
The producers originally estimated that the cast’s martial arts training would only take a few weeks. But in total, the Matrix cast would undergo four months (October 1997 to March 1998) of intense training before they were ready.
Keanu Reeves, in particular, took the training very seriously and would train for up to ten hours a day.
All that training paid off. The end result can be seen in the amazing fight scenes in The Matrix.
Reeves Was Partially Paralyzed When He Started Preparing For The Matrix
Keanu Reeves really wanted to play the role of Neo in The Matrix. So much so that he was still recuperating from neck surgery when he agreed to star in the film.
Even though Reeves participated in fight training with the rest of the Matrix cast, he was in a neck brace and did less strenuous actions than the others.
Prior to pre-production, Keanu Reeves started experiencing paralysis in his legs. Doctors were able to trace the issue back to a previous neck injury. So, right before he was scheduled to begin his stunt training for The Matrix, Reeves had neck surgery.
Even though he was still recovering, Reeves insisted on training with the rest of the cast. So Woo-Ping Yuen let him practice punches and lighter moves while wearing a neck brace. Reeves trained hard and even requested extra training sessions on days off. However, the surgery still made him unable to kick for two out of four months of training. As a result, Reeves doesn’t kick much in the film.
Hugo Weaving Went Into Surgery Just As Filming Began
Keanu Reeves wasn’t the only injured cast member. On the first day of shooting, Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith) started experiencing severe pain in his leg. Doctors took a closer look and discovered a polyp that had to be surgically removed.
The producers considered replacing Weaving with French actor Jean Reno, but ultimately decided that throwing away Weaving’s months of stunt training and starting over with another actor would take longer. To give Weaving time to recover, The Wachowskis moved his scenes to the end of the production schedule.
Ultimately, that worked out the best for everyone, including Reeves, who was also recovering from neck surgery and had extra scenes to do towards the end of shooting.
The Principal Cast Had Required Reading In Addition To Their Martial Arts Training
When the cast wasn’t involved in fight training, they had a lot of reading to do. Books like Simulacra and Simulation by sociologist Jean Baudrillard were required reading for most of the principal cast and some crew members.
The Wachowskis Spent Their Original Production Budget For The Matrix Just Filming The Opening Scene
To make the movie they wanted, the Wachowskis figured they would need a production budget of at least $60 million dollars. Instead, Warner Bros. only gave them $10 million. This wasn’t enough to even make the project worthwhile, so the Wachowskis made a huge gamble. They used all $10 million of their budget to shoot a single scene from The Matrix. They figured that if the movie studio saw what they could do with one scene, then they’d give them more money to finish the film.
Their gamble with the studio executives worked. Warner Bros. gave them the additional money after they watched the sample scene. So what scene did the Wachowskis shoot for the studio? The opening sequence from the beginning of the film with Trinity running away from the Agents on city rooftops.
Several Of The Sets In The Matrix Are Repurposed From The 1998 Film, Dark City
The 1998 film, Dark City, finished filming in Australia right before The Matrix began production. The Dark City’s exterior sets hadn’t been destroyed yet and The Matrix production team gladly repurposed them for the opening rooftop scene with Trinity.
If you watch both the Matrix rooftop scene and Dark City rooftop scene side by side, you’ll start to notice a lot of similar looking structures.
The Matrix Was Filmed Using 3 Color Tints: Green, Blue And Yellow – Do You Know What They Mean?
If you watch carefully, every scene in The Matrix has a special tinted color. But even if you’ve noticed the tinted colors before, do you know what they mean?
- Green: If a scene takes place inside the Matrix, then the film is tinted green, similar to the monochrome code screens on computer monitors.
- Blue: Scenes that take place in the real world, like anything shot in Zion, have a blue tint.
- Yellow: Anywhere in between the real world and the Matrix, like when Neo meets The Architect, has a yellow tint.
Cool right? Even hardcore Matrix fans may not realize this piece of Matrix trivia.
The Final Shot In The Lobby Scene Has A Happy Accident
One of the most intense moments in The Matrix is the lobby gunfight. In the scene, a storm of bullets turns the lobby of an office building into Swiss cheese as Neo and Trinity fight their way past a heavily armed security team.
In the final shot of the scene, the camera pulls back to show a wide view of the massive destruction left behind as Neo and Trinity get into an elevator. During the shot, a piece of one of the stone pillars humorously falls to the floor. It’s a perfect way to end the scene after its sheer intensity… but it wasn’t planned.
The falling piece of wall happened by coincidence. It was just a happy accident that the filmmakers gladly added to the final cut.
NERD NOTE: The gunfight lobby scene in The Matrix was so detailed that it took ten days to film.
Keanu Reeves Lost 15 Pounds And Shaved His Entire Body For The Pod Scene
To prepare for the scene in which Neo wakes up in a pod, Keanu Reeves lost fifteen pounds, and shaved his entire body to give Neo an emaciated skeletal look.
Luckily for Reeves, this was the last scene of the film, so he didn’t have to diet or keep his body shaevd beyond that.
The Iconic Green Matrix Code Is A Collection Of Sushi Recipes
You might have noticed a lot of Asian characters in the green Matrix code, but have you ever wondered why? Production designer Owen Paterson scanned his wife’s Sushi recipes from a cookbook and reversed these characters to create the Matrix code used in the films.
The Matrix Was Selected For Preservation In The National Film Registry Archives By U.S. Library Of Congress
The Matrix was so groundbreaking that in 2012, it was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry archives. This honor is only bestowed upon a very small group of films each year.
The Matrix Made Keanu Reeves The Highest-Paid Actor For A Single Production In History
He might have been on the bottom of the shortlist to play Neo in The Matrix, but ultimately Keanu Reeves got the last laugh. For his role on the first Matrix film, Reeves earned a salary of $10 million dollars and got a 10% cut from the movie’s $463 million gross. That’s a $56 million payday!
But it’s Reeves’ earnings from The Matrix sequels that really put him in the history books. For the sequels Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, Keanu earned a $30 million salary and got 15% of the box office revenues. Becuase both films were done at the same time, they are considered one production. Ultimately the sequels earned Reeves $156 million, making him the highest paid actor for a single production in Hollywood history.
Reeves made more money from The Matrix sequels than Tom Cruise from any of the Mission Impossible films or even Robert Downey Jr. from any of The Avengers or Iron Man movies.
The Wachowski Brothers Are Now Sisters
After The Matrix was released in 1999, both Larry and Andy Wachowski slowly started transitioning into women. Larry and Andy are now Lana and Lilly. And instead of being known as the Wachowski Brothers, they now prefer to be called The Wachowskis.
Although it isn’t out of the ordinary these days for someone to transition to another gender, it’s very rare for two siblings to do it together.
A YouTuber named Twaggies has recreated the famous Matrix lobby scene using peanut shells and stop motion cameras.
How Much Of This Matrix Trivia Did You Already Know?
Thanks for reading this article on Matrix trivia. How many of these Matrix trivia facts did you already know? Did we get anything wrong? Please let us know in the comments.