The Matrix Resurrections Interview: Keanu Reeves And Carrie-Anne Moss On Reviving Neo And Trinity

The Matrix Resurrections

by Chris Hewitt |
Updated on

If you’re able to head to the cinema right now, get your shades on, dig out the leather trenchcoat, and prepare to party like it’s 1999 all over again – because The Matrix is officially back. Director Lana Wachowski has returned to the (virtual) world she co-created with her sister Lilly in their classic cyberpunk trilogy, here flying solo in the director’s chair for The Matrix Resurrections – a daring, ultra-meta fourth film which brings back Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss as Neo and Trinity, ready to twist your mind (and now your heart too) all over again.

On the Empire Podcast – available to listen to now on your app of choice – we sat down with Reeves and Moss to discuss how they plugged back in to the saga they originally exited 18 years ago (with their characters both, in fact, dying in Revolutions), learning how they got back in conversation with their former selves, and exploring the ways The Matrix still pops up in their daily lives. It’s a conversation that’s particularly, well, Wachowskian. And, in true Keanu style, pretty damn Reevesian too. Hear the full interview on the podcast, and read it below (lightly edited for clarity).

The Matrix Resurrections

EMPIRE: I’m joined by the stars of The Matrix Resurrections, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. I never expected to say those words about a new Matrix movie – and I imagine you didn’t expect to hear them?

Keanu Reeves: Yeah, that is true. I had heard over the years that Warner Bros, who financed and distributed The Matrix trilogy, was considering making another Matrix film, and then I would always go, “Well are the Wachowskis involved?” And then it would be, “No”, and I would say, “Well, that's never going to happen”. But then it started to get closer and closer, and I was like, “Hmm... still not gonna happen”. And then a year, a couple, went by. I got a text, a call from Lana Wachowski, and she was saying that she was considering doing another Matrix film. And I was like, “Whaaaat?” And then she said, “Yes”. But there were a lot of things she wanted to consider first, you know – just the writing, the situation. She kind of went step by step. But I was really happy that she invited me and I was looking forward to it happening.

Carrie-Anne, what about yourself – at what point did you get that call?

Carrie-Anne Moss: I don't remember exactly when, but I got a text from Lana, and then we talked on the phone and we caught up a little tiny bit. She shared with me that she had written this script, and why she had written it, and that there was a possibility we would do it, and would I want to be part of it. And I was like, “Of course, I'm so excited”. It happened quite quickly, actually.

It’s a movie that at times goes out of its way to feel deliberately not like a Matrix movie. And then there are times when it does. So at what point did it feel like a Matrix movie for you?

Keanu: In terms of the text, I always felt like I was in a Matrix film. It struck me how much more humor there was, in the text and seeing the film. It was really, I thought, delightful – a nice added ingredient to the feast, you know, just some more humor. Lana Wachowski was also making fun of The Matrix as well, you know, which I thought was great.

Carrie-Anne: I think the moment that we started training in the dojo, which we did for probably a couple months before we started shooting. The first day of training, I felt like I was back in The Matrix, because so much of the preparation for the first three movies, it all started in a dojo. And so immediately being there with Keanu, it was just surreal – we're back and we're doing this again. So I definitely felt it right away through that process of training.

Was it all stored up, the muscle memory? Did it all kick in right away?

Carrie-Anne: No, no, it took time. But it was fun. The kinds of challenges that Lana asks of us in all of the movies, it makes you just step into more of yourself. That's what I always loved about the movies – I was just always facing something that was maybe an obstacle in myself, whether it was physically an obstacle, or whether it was mentally an obstacle. And to me, that's what makes life interesting in general, beyond movies. Can I overcome this obstacle? And with the movies, the answer is always, “Yes, I can”. How am I going to get there? I don't know. But I'm going to figure it out. And of course, you have a lot of support by other people that are helping you get there. But I love that part of it.

What sort of conversations did the two of you have whenever this first began to hover on the horizon? Did you call each other and go, ‘are we doing to do this?’ There are meta conversations in the movie about revisiting The Matrix and whether going back is a good idea. Did you have conversations like that with Lana?

Keanu: Uhhhhm… Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we really kind of connected when we had the reading. And yeah, certainly the early days and preparation, definitely asking her questions, going through the script process that she went through. She was gracious enough to involve me with a couple of drafts before the shooting draft. I think for us, it was really connecting at that read-through.

The Matrix Resurrections

What was that read-through like? What was that moment when you first got the script? Have you ever read a script with such trepidation?

Carrie-Anne: It was exciting!

Keanu: Yeah, it was at [Lana’s] residence with her and Karen.

Carrie-Anne: I’ve never done a read-through where I haven’t read it first. So to sit at the table, that was interesting. To be reading it for the first time, and being watched while reading it for the first time, you know, is…

Keanu: Wachowskian!

Carrie-Anne: That’s interesting, right?

Keanu: Wachowskian!

This movie is in conversation with the previous three Matrix movies, and that in particular applies to the relationship between Neo and Trinity. Every conversation they have is loaded with weight and the meaning of what went before – did you get a sense of that significance, that occasion, doing those scenes and doing things like the read-through?

Keanu: Yeah, the journey that Thomas Anderson takes with confronting- The character still feels like something's not quite right in his reality. And... so... he's bringing the past with him. I mean, it's so crazy because we're making a film that we had made 20 years ago, with a film that's confronting the idea of the past, but being in the present. And what's your relationship to that? Is memory fiction? Is reality turned into a memory is fic- What the heck's going- How do you feel about it, and how do you feel about what the world is, and your place in it? And, my gosh, it's really fun. I mean, as an actor, it's really fun to be able to, like, be in the moment of trying to think of those things and react to them and feel them. You know, it's grief, it’s… I don't know. It's also... I don't know.

You're watching your fictional past to try and understand your reality present – Keanu

Carrie-Anne: It also just lives in us, in a way, because of our history, and because of the making of those other movies. When I watch the movie, and you see those scenes where Lana so craftedly – craftically? Is that a word? – with her amazing craft, with her amazing ability to bring in all those pieces of the past that inform the scene, and at the same time you look at these two characters, and if you have a relationship with The Matrix, which a lot of people do-

Keanu: But the film works if you haven’t!

Carrie-Anne: Yeah, right. I just feel like it all lives in there. It just lives in them, these two characters in a way. And then with the flashbacks being put in there so well, it moved me. It was interesting to be seeing these two characters sitting across from each other having this conversation, listening to what they're saying, and at the same time absolutely remembering the past. Like just they were swim- the past and the present, just happening all at the same time. That was really amazing to watch, with that amazing editing too.

The Matrix Resurrections

Did you both go back and revisit the previous movies before you filmed this?

Keanu: I did.

Carrie-Anne: I did too, yeah.

Keanu: Which is another level itself! So now you're watching your fictional past to try and understand your reality present, to go and tell another fiction that's actually going to be your next reality. And all of that is transposing to the audience who's watching it.

Carrie-Anne: I need a nap, thinking about that! That’s a lot! I was amazed watching the three other movies and how much of it is- In every scene, I remembered that day more than I remembered the scenes, which is interesting. ‘On that day, this happened…’ Movies are so interesting when you make them, because they hold a time in your life too.

From the outside looking in, we just see the movie. But you guys were thinking, ‘Well, we were in Australia at that point, I was doing this…’

Keanu: Right. But if you're familiar with the trilogy, and especially if you had seen them when you were younger, you are having the same experience, right? “Oh my God, who was I when I first saw The Matrix, and who'd I see it with? And then wait, I didn't see that one on the big- Wait, what did I do- What happened? Who was I? And now here I am. Gosh, look at my life over the past 18 years. What choices did I make? How did I How did that even impact- Who was that person? Who am I now? What's going on?” All we need is love.

That’s one of the themes of the movie right there. You both talked about and hinted at the impact The Matrix has had on pop culture. So many phrases like ‘glitch in the matrix’, ‘red pill’…

Keanu: Follow the white rabbit… Wake up…

Carrie-Anne: Wake up, Neo. Wake up.

Keanu: Peace.

I constantly think about the ways that I am defined by ideas, or by labels, or my consciousness, or my perception of things – Carrie-Anne

There’s a sense in this move that both Neo and Trinity are hero-worshipped, and there’s that meta layer about how The Matrix is hero-worshipped as well. But in your everyday lives, is that something you encounter, whether it’s a quote or a concept? It’s something you can’t escape in a way.

Carrie-Anne: Yeah, I think I definitely do. And it's always- I have a lot of separation from actually- I have an interesting relationship to The Matrix, in that I feel the movies without myself being in it. I have a relationship to the movies as the impact of the movies. For me personally, that doesn't have anything to do with being in the movie, if that makes sense. That’s quite interesting to have, actually, I’ve never really thought about it. But I constantly think about, how are the ways that I am defined by ideas, or by labels, or my consciousness, or my perception of things? And I will reflect that back to the concepts in the movie. And I wonder if it's odd, because I'm in them, but I have a very true relationship with the movies as art, and what the movies were talking about. I'm interested in those conversations.

Keanu, what’s your relationship like with the movies?

Keanu: Yeah, not that often. I mean, once in a while I'll meet people who share their experiences with the films – for the most part pretty positive, which is always great to hear. And it's cool. I mean, I'm really grateful to be a part of a work of art that has affected so many people positively. And then once in a while, some of my friends who've had kids, it's like, “Have they watched The Matrix yet?” And they're like, “Not yet”. And then, “But now they have”, you know. I've met some of my friends' kids who have watched The Matrix, which is really cool. And definitely, you know, in the vernacular of the culture. It's cool.

The Matrix Resurrections

Talking about this notion of being in conversation with your past and revisiting characters from the past, you played Ted again recently in Bill And Ted Face The Music****-

Keanu: I did! Ted Theodore Logan!

Is this part of a sort of tour, going back into the past? Carrie-Anne, are you now inspired by this movie to do the same and look back at characters you’ve played before and think, ‘You know what? I’d like to see what they’re up to now…’?

Keanu: Yeah, it’s definitely been, as Lou Reed would say, “new sensations”, you know. Yeah, I did Face The Music, which was the third Bill and Ted film, and that was 30 years later, which then went into The Matrix which was, let's just call it 20 years later. What's 10 years, 2010? I don't know. Yeah, I was... I can only say it's been... new sensations. But grateful for it. I mean, it's cool to be able to have these characters and to continue to tell stories about them.

Carrie-Anne: Yeah, and go back and work with the people. That's so wonderful, to revisit those relationships and those creative partnerships. I don't know if I could imagine going back. I don't know if any of the things that- it hasn't crossed my mind. But it didn't cross my mind about this one either, so. I like when life surprises me.

Is this it? Or do you think there might be more Matrix in the pipeline for you both? The Matrix Resurrections: Resurrections?

Keanu: What’s another one? Resurrections Redux.

I like that. What was it, the Wachowski Vocation, the word you came up with earlier on? We should work that in.

Keanu: Wachowskian! I don’t believe so. If I had to cast a ballot- No, not a ballot, a vote. I would say that Lana would not do another Matrix.

Carrie-Anne: We thought that about this one too.

Keanu: We don’t know! We don’t know. But I’m there if it’s there.

Carrie-Anne: Let life surprise us!

Keanu: If she invites us again- I’m sorry, I spoke for you again! If she invites me again, I’m in.

Carrie-Anne Moss: I love it.

The Matrix Resurrections is out now in UK cinemas. The Empire Podcast arrives weekly on Fridays. Find out more here__.

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