It was a “YES” when Keanu Reeves was asked to return to The Matrix

(Courtesy: Warner Bros.)

We are only 12 days away from re-entering The Matrix, when Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix: Resurrections opens in theaters and on HBO Max. Also returning to the mind-bending universe that redefined the genre in 1999, are Keanu Reeves (Neo/Thomas Anderson) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity/Tiffany).

Now, Lana is out on her own as she brings The Matrix: Resurrections to life. In the new film, we return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more.

And if Thomas…Neo…has learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of—or into—the Matrix. Of course, Neo already knows what he has to do. But what he doesn’t yet know is the Matrix is stronger, more secure and more dangerous than ever before. Déjà vu. Watch the trailer below:

Reeves continues to be one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men with a worldwide box office total of over $4.5 billion. As a remarkably eclectic actor, Reeves has made an indelible mark on the world of entertainment through the diverse roles he has played. He shared his thoughts on returning to the world of machines and man.

What was it like getting the call from Lana Wachowski?

One day I got an email from Lana, “How’s it going? I’m thinking about…” And I was like, “What!?” Then, it was a conversation—she shared with me some of what was happening with her personally, and what had brought her to a place of telling a story with The Matrix. And she asked me how I would feel about it. “YES.” On these films, with Lana, it’s “YES.”

Both Neo and Trinity died in Matrix: Revolutions. How do you continue their stories?

In speaking with Lana and Lilly, even while we were making the first Matrix, they talked about the second film. They spoke about certain sequences that they had in their minds, so I knew that that part of the story was in them even in the first film.

For me as an actor, my character had a wonderful resolution in the trilogy—it was a character that bridged the real world and the Matrix, a balance between human and machine worlds… just asking for peace. What happened to Thomas Anderson felt like that part of the story was told.

Lana spoke about having another story to tell, which centered around Neo and Trinity, the love story of that, and that sounded really exciting to me. I felt like there was a perfect kind of union there. Borrowing from Thomas Anderson’s coding world, the word “binary” comes up, choices that are singular—this way, that way. Trinity and Neo to me kind of represent this union.

I think they’re very complementary to each other in their thought, in their energy. I root for them. When I play the character and I work with Carrie-Anne as Trinity—it’s something beyond myself. It’s this big… whatever that is, it feels like they’re in that together.

What were your thoughts when you read the script for the first time?

When I read The Matrix Resurrections, Morpheus was not the same Morpheus, Thomas Anderson wasn’t the same Thomas Anderson, and Trinity was Tiffany—it was another version of a wakeup call. For Morpheus, the journey that the character takes is very different, and the relationship with Neo is really different.

Lana has written these very rich roles, and with actors like Yahya [Abdul-Mateen II], Jonathan [Groff]—they’re amazing at playing both the humor and the gravitas. They create these characters within these contexts, who have these inner selves that are both light and dark…it’s so cool to watch them.

What was it like reuniting with Carrie-Anne Moss?

(L-r) KEANU REEVES as Neo/ Thomas Anderson and CARRIE-ANNE MOSS as Trinity in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ “THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Carrie-Anne and I have kept in touch. A lot has happened to that wonderful person. When I first worked with her, she didn’t have three children and a husband. We really had a routine, like, “Good morning,” “Good morning.” Then, we’d stretch, warm-up and train together. She’d play her music, bring the light. We’d support each other, get to talk about life while on the mat.

I’ve cherished that time that I got to share with her then and now, to meet her again… to meet her so different and, yet, so much the same, so much of the core person there. Just to see how that core has expressed itself and to meet her kids, her husband, a cool family. To act with her, to play that love. We have a couple of scenes where Tiffany and Thomas have a cup of coffee—for us, it is so emotional. It was almost like, how do we not cry?

The original trilogy set a new benchmark in stunts. How does this stack up?

KEANU REEVES as Neo/ Thomas Anderson in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ “THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

It was really exciting to think about what the character of the martial arts for Thomas Anderson, Neo, 20 years later, would be. Obviously, it’s very different from John Wick, and Lana wanted to make sure that it stayed that way, you know, so we weren’t doing judo throws. We kind of organically moved from where the character was before, and it’s been really amazing.

On this film, I had a chance to work again with Tiger Chen Hu; I worked with him on the trilogy. To speak with and train, it was really exciting for him—we were throwing so many different styles (LAUGHS). I also got the chance to work with Eric Brown, who trains me on John Wick. It was cool to have the kind of Eastern/Western approaches, and to have the benefit of their knowledge and training to help me try and do these things. So, it’s really exciting. It’s different—if I had to sum it up, it’s kind of hard/soft, a hard and soft style.

(L-r) KEANU REEVES as Neo/Thomas Anderson and YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II as Morpheus in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ “THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

REELated: Major Character is back… sort of… in international Matrix trailer

How do you feel Lana has evolved as a filmmaker?

If I talk about Lana, the filmmaker that I worked with on the trilogy, to the Lana on “The Matrix Resurrections…” First of all, she’s worked with [cinematographer] John Toll, who taught her a bit about natural light. So, my experience [of the trilogy] was with her behind a monitor, now she’s in front—of course, she’ll reference the monitor. Her evolution as a filmmaker is extraordinary. So, what we have now is an artist who’s interested in natural light, who wants to be next to the camera and literally connects herself to the camera and becomes this other thing, which I’ve never seen before. You know, there’s an immediacy that’s very different. There’s still planning like before—plan, rehearse, shoot. Now, it’s “be ready in the moment… go.” As Lana likes to say, “We learn by doing,” and she knows, right?

Reeves will next appear in John Wick: Chapter Four, a follow-up to the highly successful John Wick film series, set to be released in theaters in May 2022. He most recently appeared alongside Alex Winter in Bill and Ted Face the Music, and made his comic book-writing debut with BRZRKR, a twelve-issue and graphic novel limited series distributed through BOOM! Studios earlier this year, which quickly became the highest-funded comic book Kickstarter of all-time and the highest-selling original comic book series debut in over 25 years.

His other recent projects include the video game Cyberpunk 2077, John Wick 3: Parabellum, and Always Be My Maybe, and he lent his voice to the animated character Duke Caboom in Toy Story 4.

Lana Wachowski directed The Matrix: Resurrections from a screenplay by Wachowski & David Mitchell & Aleksander Hemon, based on characters created by The Wachowskis. The film was produced by James McTeigue, Lana Wachowski and Grant Hill. The executive producers were Garrett Grant, Terry Needham, Michael Salven, Karin Wachowski, Jesse Ehrman and Bruce Berman.

Wachowski’s creative team behind the scenes included Sense8 collaborators: directors of photography Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll, production designers Hugh Bateup and Peter Walpole, editor Joseph Jett Sally, costume designer Lindsay Pugh, visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, and composers Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer.

Other Matrix returnees include Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe, Lambert Wilson as The Merovingian, and Daniel Bernhardt as Agent Johnson. Also joining the cast will be Andrew Caldwell, Priyanka Chopra, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Hollman, Eréndira Ibarra, Toby Onwumere, Christina Ricci, Max Riemelt, and Brian J. Smith.

The Matrix Resurrections will be released in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously on December 22.