Get ready to head back into The Matrix again. Lana Wachowski, who co-wrote and co-directed the groundbreaking action film The Matrix (and its two less-well-received sequels), is currently prepping a fourth entry in the franchise. And yes, both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are expected to reprise their iconic roles.
Details about the still-untitled The Matrix 4 remain scarce, but the film does have an official release date of April 2, 2022, and a few high-profile cast members have been revealed. Here’s everything we know about The Matrix 4 so far.
A new style
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Neil Patrick Harris suggested that the upcoming film has a new style that differs from its predecessors’ trademark style.
“I think [Lana Wachowski] has a great inclusive energy and her style has shifted visually from what she had done to what she is currently doing,” Harris said. “I’ve always wanted to be a lead in a big giant action movie with wires and stuff and this is not bad for me, but it’s certainly tangential and fun for me to be able to play in the sandbox a little bit.”
Filming through COVID
While promoting Bill & Ted Face the Music, Keanu Reeves spoke about the safety protocols that The Matrix 4 producers have put in place while filming in Berlin. With an April 2022 release date, there seems to be no need to rush production through the COVID-19 pandemic, but the studio and producers seem determined to meet that date and not become yet another delayed major release.
"We're scrappy!" Keanu Reeves returned to playing Neo this summer on the Berlin set of "The Matrix 4." He says producers have "thoughtful, effective protocols in place" to keep cast and crew safe. Reeves spoke while promoting @BillandTed3. pic.twitter.com/RtTsLOsyGP
— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) August 16, 2020
The returning cast
Along with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, several other Matrix franchise actors are rumored to be reprising their roles for The Matrix 4.
Jada Pinkett Smith, who played Niobe in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, is reportedly in talks to return for The Matrix 4. Pinkett Smith’s character was a fellow freedom fighter in humanity’s war against the machines and the captain of the hovercraft Logos.
Also rumored to be returning for The Matrix 4 is actor Lambert Wilson, who portrayed The Merovingian in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. The Merovingian was a powerful program that served as a crime lord of sorts within The Matrix, offering protection to exiled programs and bartering information.
Two actors who will be conspicuously absent from The Matrix 4 are Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving, who portrayed Morpheus and the villainous A.I. Agent Smith in The Matrix and its sequels, respectively. Weaving confirmed that he won’t be part of The Matrix 4 in January 2020, indicating that “they’re pushing on ahead without me.” Fishburne confirmed in an August 2020 interview with New York Magazine that he also wouldn’t be returning. “I have not been invited. Maybe that will make me write another play. I wish them well. I hope it’s great.”
Another cast member unlikely to reprise his role is Joe Pantoliano, who played Cypher in the franchise. Speaking with Cinema Blend, the actor said, “I doubt they’re going to be bringing me back. I’ve lobbied for it, believe me. I’ve sent little notes to Lana [Wachowski] and asked her, to no response.”
The new cast
Several new faces are expected to join The Matrix universe in The Matrix 4, with Iron Fist actress Jessica Henwick reportedly in talks for an unidentified leading role.
Also among the new additions to The Matrix franchise cast is Mindhunter and Frozen star Jonathan Groff — who also played King George in the original Broadway production of Hamilton.
In February, Spartacus alum Ellen Hollman joined the cast of The Matrix 4. No information about her role is currently known, so she remains a bit of a mystery at the moment.
A month earlier, Priyanka Chopra Jonas was confirmed to be playing an undisclosed featured role in The Matrix 4, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
And in mid-October, How I Met Your Mother and Gone Girl actor Neil Patrick Harris joined the cast of the film. The part he’ll play is unknown, but the film will be Harris’ first blockbuster-level feature for a major movie studio.
One of the earliest confirmed additions to The Matrix franchise in The Matrix 4 was Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who portrayed the villain Black Manta in 2018’s Aquaman. Abdul-Mateen II has also appeared in Black Mirror, The Get Down, and 2017’s big-screen Baywatch reboot, and has a starring role in HBO’s Watchmen.
The character Abdul-Mateen II will play in The Matrix 4 is currently unknown, although rumors suggest that he could be appearing as a younger version of Morpheus, the role that Laurence Fishburne originated in the original trilogy of The Matrix movies.
New release date
After halting production on The Matrix 4 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Warner Bros. Pictures pushed back the movie’s release date almost a full year from May 21, 2021, to April 2, 2022. Fellow WB film Godzilla vs. Kong was moved into the May 21, 2021, slot to take the place of The Matrix 4.
It was only a matter of time before some unofficial photos from the set of The Matrix 4 found their way online, and that’s exactly what happened after Keanu Reeves was spotted on the streets of San Francisco shooting a scene for the film.
The San Francisco Examiner posted some photos from the set of The Matrix 4 taken by photojournalist Amanda Peterson, who was able to get some shots of Reeves while he was filming, as well as some photos of Reeves with franchise co-star Carrie-Anne Moss, who’s reprising the role of Trinity for the film. If there’s anything to glean from the photos, it’s that Reeves’ character, Neo, has apparently abandoned the all-black, cyberpunk look that ran through the original Matrix movies in favor of a more laid-back wardrobe this time around.
Just a few months after officially confirming the fourth installment of the franchise, Warner Bros. Pictures gave The Matrix 4 (as it’s unofficially being called) a release date of May 21, 2021. The release date was later moved to April 2, 2022.
Development on The Matrix 4 began with Lana Wachowski returning to co-write and direct the latest entry in the franchise that she and her sister created.
“Many of the ideas Lilly and I explored 20 years ago about our reality are even more relevant now,” Wachowski said in a statement. “I’m very happy to have these characters back in my life and grateful for another chance to work with my brilliant friends.”
Some of those friends include writer Aleksandar Hemon (Love Island) and David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas), who co-wrote The Matrix 4 script alongside Wachowski. In addition to their film work, both Hemon and Mitchell are accomplished novelists, and both appeared in an episode of the Wachowskis’ popular Netflix series, Sense8.
So far, it doesn’t sound like the other Wachowski sibling will be involved in The Matrix 4, although WB seems to think the franchise is safe in Lana’s hands.
“We could not be more excited to be reentering The Matrix with Lana,” said Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich. “Lana is a true visionary — a singular and original creative filmmaker — and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing, and producing this new chapter in The Matrix universe.”
However, there’s a chance that John Wick director Chad Stahelski, who was Keanu Reeves’ stunt double and the stunt coordinator on the original Matrix movies, might return for the upcoming sequel. Before WB’s official announcement, Stahelski leaked word that a fourth Matrix movie was in production and said that he’d “put down whatever I was doing to help” bring the sequel to fruition.
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss
The Matrix 4 just wouldn’t be part of The Matrix without Keanu Reeves, who played the franchise’s hacker-turned-digital-messiah Neo in the original trilogy. Well, good news: Reeves is back, as is The Matrix franchise’s leading lady, Carrie-Anne Moss.
Given both characters’ fates at the end of the original Matrix trilogy, the sequel will likely need to work out a clever way to reincorporate Neo and Trinity into the story, but that shouldn’t prove too difficult for a series that dabbles in mysticism, virtual reality, and massive plot twists.
Updated on September 17, 2020: Added Neil Patrick Harris’ comments on a new style.