We’re not sure how The Matrix holds up today, but the first time we saw it, in the cinema, we were absolutely blown away.
It was like nothing we’d ever seen before, so much so that we paid to watch it a further 3 times!
The 1999 science fiction action film was written and directed by The Wachowskis and starred Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano.
The film depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is a simulated reality called “The Matrix.”
“The Matrix” is created by sentient machines in order to subdue the human population whilst their body’s heat and electrical activity are harvested as an energy source.
Cybercriminal and programmar Neo learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines.
This involves other people who have been freed from the “dream world.”
The film is known for making popular a visual effect called “bullet time.”
This is where the heightened perception of certain characters is represented by allowing the action within a shot to progress in slow-motion whilst the camera’s viewpoint appears to move through the scene at normal speed.
The film is a good example of the cyberpunk sub-genre.
The film contains various references to philosophical and religious ideas, and prominently pays homage to works such as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
The Wachowskis were inspired by their admiration for Japanese animation and martial arts films.
This informed their approach to action sequences, and the film’s use of fight choreographers and wire fu techniques from Hong Kong action cinema influenced subsequent Hollywood action film productions.
At it’s release on March 31, 1999, the film grossed over $460 million worldwide.
The film was well-received by critics and won four Academy Awards, as well as other accolades, including BAFTA Awards and Saturn Awards.
Reviewers praised The Matrix for its innovative visual effects, cinematography and entertainment value.
The film often appears on lists of the greatest ever science fiction films.
In 2012, it was added to the National Film Registry for preservation.
The success of the film led to the release of two feature film sequels, both written and directed by the Wachowskis: The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
The franchise was further expanded through the production of comic books, video games and animated short films, in which the Wachowskis were heavily involved, and even inspired books and theories on ideas in religion and philosophy.
So how much do you know about this classic 90s film? You’re about to find out, with the following ‘14 Things You May Not Have Realised About The Matrix’…
And if you continue clicking to the end, you can see what the cast of The Matrix look like now compared to back in 1999. It’s surprising what some of them have gotten up to in the years since.
1. It Started Out As A Comic Book Idea
Filmmakers The Wachowski Brothers originally expected their story for the The Matrix to be a comic
The two had both previously written comic books for Marvel.
Comics were also released during the production of the first film.
During production of the first film, the Wachowskis and Spencer Lamm, who ran the film’s official website, developed comics based on the setting of the film.
They were published free of charge on the website.
These and a few short stories were released in three series from 1999 to 2003, with several of them (along with new material) collected in two print volumes in 2003 and 2004.
The Wachowskis themselves contributed “Bits and Pieces”, a prequel to the movie that explains the origins of the Matrix, featuring illustrations by Geof Darrow, the movie’s conceptual designer.
2. Four Big Name Actors Turned Down The Role Of Neo
Will Smith turned down the role of Neo to make Wild Wild West (oooops!)
Nicolas Cage turned down the part due to ‘family obligations’.
Brad Pitt and Val Kilmer were also reported to have said no.
Brad Pitt of course starred as Tyler Durden in Fight Club the same year as The Matrix.
Val Kimer starred in the less cool film, At First Sight.
In an interview with Wired, Smith said, “I would have absolutely messed up ‘The Matrix.’
“At that point I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be — whereas Keanu was.”
3. The Directors Wanted Johnny Depp
According to, the film’s composer, was Lana and Andy’s first choice for Neo.
Warner Bros. wanted
After Kilmer and Brad Pitt said no, Warner Bros. was willing to consider Johnny Depp.
Then it came between Johnny Depp and, who Warner Bros. was pushing.
We’re sure that this had no detrimental effect on Depp’s career.
He’s gone into star in some of the biggest franchises on the planet, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Alice in Wonderland and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
He is a favourite actor of Tim Burton’s and has starred in nearly every one of his films.
4. It Had Many Different Inspirations…
The film contains numerous references to philosophical and religious ideas, as well as literature such as Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’.
The main inspiration is from the book ‘written by
It is one of the best-known works in the cyberpunk genre and the first novel to win the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award.
The novel tells the near-future story of Case, a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer for one last job against a powerful artificial intelligence.
After watching The Matrix, Gibson commented that the way that the film’s creators had drawn from existing cyberpunk works was ‘exactly the kind of creative cultural osmosis” he had relied upon in his own writing.
5. The Helicopter Sequence Almost Closed The Film Down
During filming, a helicopter was flown through restricted airspace in Sydney, Australia, where laws had to be changed in order to let them proceed with the shoot.
This was not for the actual helicopter seen in the film.
The helicopter itself was a giant to-scale prop that was ironically flown to Sydney because it had no propellers (those were added in post production using CG).
In Greek Mythology, Morpheus is the god of dreams. Somewhat ironic, considering Morpheus’ role here is to awaken people from their dream states to reality.
According to The Wachowskis, all animals in the Matrix universe are computer generated images.
When Carrie-Anne Moss saw the first cut of the film, it was also the first time she’d ever seen herself in a movie before.
6. The Entire Budget Was Spent On The First Scene
The Wachowskis originally pitched a budget of over $80 million to Warner Bros.
The company only gave them $10 million.
This was no way near enough money for the vision that the Wachowskis had for the film.
As such, they used it all on the opening sequence with Trinity.
It seems like gambling the film’s entire budget on the first sequence paid off..
Warner Bros. executives were so impressed when they saw the scene, they green-lit the original budget.
We can’t imagine what sort of film it would have been had it only had $10 million.
7. The Lobby Scene Has No Computer Effects
The breathtaking lobby sequence feature no CGI whatsoever.
It took 10 days to film, and all of the explosions and gunfire were practical effects.
After the lobby shoot-out, the camera pans back, showing the aftermath of the gunfight in the lobby.
During this, a piece of one of the pillars falls off.
This happened by coincidence during the filming, and was not planned.
It was left in the film, since it seemed appropriate.
Carrie-Anne Moss twisted her ankle while shooting one of her scenes, but decided not to tell anyone until after filming, so they wouldn’t re-cast her.
8. The Opening Sequence Had Alot Riding On It
The opening sequence took six months of training to prepare for, four days to shoot and cost $10 million.
The film opens with a woman being cornered by police in an abandoned hotel.
After overpowering them with superhuman abilities, a group of sinister superhuman grey green-suited Agents leads the police in a rooftop pursuit.
She answers a ringing public telephone and vanishes.
We believe that the opening scene is certainly mesmerising.
We think it definitely made the money back spent on the scene.
9. Blinde, The Sunglasses Company, Competed Against Ray-Ban And Arnette To Design The Movie’s Glasses
Each character’s glasses are custom designed based by Richard Walker on their unique names.
This is how Blinde won the contract over Ray-Ban and Arnette, two major glasses designers.
Once Walker got the job, he was flown into Sydney to make custom glasses for the duration of filming.
The company did not remake the glasses from the first film for the public.
This wasn’t the case for the sequels, and the company brought out a Matrix range for the public to buy.
They’re available on their website, priced at $240 each.
So if you want to look as cool as Morpheus, we suggest you get yourself a pair.
10. The Actors Trained For Months
The film’s lead actors trained every day for four months in order to be convincing in the fight sequences, as the directors didn’t want to use stunt doubles.
Training for The Matrix was unusually gruelling for four months before production, with Keanu Reeves himself training for up to ten hours every day.
To prepare, the Wachowski Brothers hired Yuen Woo-Ping to get the actors ready.
Yuen let their body style develop and then worked with each actor’s strength.
He built on Reeves’ diligence, Fishburne’s resilience, Weaving’s precision, and Moss’s feminine grace.
It wasn’t an easy shoot, several of the actors were injured during production; Carrie-Anne Moss twisted an ankle, Hugo Weaving hurt his leg and required surgery and all the actors and stunt performers had their share of bumps and bruises.
A simple fight scene on a normal movie takes an afternoon or one day to shoot, whereas with The Matrix, they literally spent weeks on some action sequences.
11. The Film Is Colour Coded
Every scene taking place in the computerised world of ‘the Matrix’ has a green tint, and all the scenes taking place in the the real world have a blue tint.
To prepare for the scene in which Neo wakes up in a pod, Keanu Reeves lost fifteen pounds, and shaved his whole body to give Neo an emaciated look.
Before his character’s final speech at the end, Keanu Reeves never has more than five sentences in a row to speak.
The climactic subway fight scene between Neo and Agent Smith went ten days over schedule.
By the middle of 2002, the famous “Bullet Time” sequence had been spoofed in over twenty different movies.
The last thing shot was Neo getting flushed into the lake when he gets unplugged for the first time.
12. The Action Sequences Drew A Lot From Japanese Animation
The film’s action sequences drew upon inspiration from Japanese animation and martial arts films
Fight choreography and wire fu techniques were taken directly from Hong Kong action cinema.
The Wachowskis have said: “We’ve always wanted to bring Hong Kong wire stunt and fight sensibilities into our Western story ideas. This was the perfect opportunity.”
The brothers had long admired the work of Yuen Woo-Ping – one of the top Hong Kong stunt specialists in both Kung Fu and wire-stunt work.
When they mentioned his work to Joel Silver, they learned that he was also a fan of Woo-Ping’s rapid-fire, stylised fight choreography, and that he supported their desire to incorporate Wo Ping’s work into “The Matrix.”
“First we had to train the cast to work with the wires, to balance with the wires, and we then began to hoist them up into the air.”
“The most difficult part of the process is to land without losing balance, so it looks very natural, as if the actors have made that leap without any assistance.”
“They then had to learn how to fight Kung Fu style.”
13. Janet Jackson Could Have Played Trinity
Janet Jackson was initially approached for the role of Trinity but scheduling conflicts meant she had to decline.
The pop superstar was lined up by filmmaking siblings Larry and Andy Wachowski to appear in the original Matrix movie in 1999 alongside Keanu Reeves.
Jackson couldn’t find the time in her hectic schedule to join the blockbuster – but she’s still hoping to get tough on film.
She told Wonderland magazine, “There was a time when I met with the Wachowski brothers to do The Matrix, a long time ago but there were conflicts.”
“I want to kick somebody’s a**. Anybody’s. As long as I get to kick somebody’s a**. Kick a new hole in their butt. Rip ’em a new butthole. I’d love to do that.”
The singer has starred in a string of films, including ‘Poetic Justice’, wacky comedy ‘Nutty Professor II: The Klumps’ and ‘Why Did I Get Married?’
These aren’t quite to the levels of The Matrix, but never mind.
14. Woo-Ping Yuen Originally Refused To Work On The Film
Did you know that legendary Hong Kong stunt coordinator Woo-Ping Yuen initially refused to work on the film.
Even after receiving the script, which he liked, he hoped that by asking for an exorbitant fee, it would turn off the Wachowskis.
He next formulated what he considered an impossible request.
He said that he’d agree only if he had complete control of the fights, and that he trained the actors for four months before they shoot.
The Wachowskis complied with his request.
We guess Neo wasn’t the only one asking questions.
15. It Popularised ‘Bullet Time’
The Matrix is known for popularizing a visual effect called ‘bullet time’, which allows the action within a shot to progress in slow motion whilst the camera appears to move at normal speed.
You’ll have seen this effect many time since in multiple films, TV shows and computer games!
The name of the effect has actually been trademarked by Warner Bros.
The technique of using a group of still cameras to freeze motion occurred before the invention of cinema itself.
It dates back to the 19th-century experiments by Eadweard Muybridge. In Sallie Gardner at a Gallop (1878), Muybridge analyzed the motion of a galloping horse by using a line of cameras to photograph the animal as it ran past.
In The Matrix, the camera path was pre-designed using computer-generated visualizations as a guide.
Cameras were arranged, behind a green or blue screen, on a track and aligned through a laser targeting system, forming a complex curve through space.
16. It Won Four Oscars
Did you know that The Matrix picked up 4 Academy Awards?
It won for Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and (unsurprisingly) Best Visual Effects.
Warner Brothers green-lit the movie fairly late during pre-production. For a long time, artists working on pre-production were not sure whether the film was ever going to be made.
With all these awards, we’re pretty sure they’re glad it did green light it.
In an online interview when the film was first released, the Wachowskis revealed that they’d both take the Blue Pill when given Neo’s choice.
The first day of shooting was the scene where Neo receives the phone from Morpheus in the office and attempts to flee from the Agents.
17. Carrie-Anne Moss Had Never Seen Herself In A Movie
For Carrie-Anne Moss, who played Trinity, watching a first cut of the Matrix was the first time she’d ever seen herself in a movie.
Moss injured her ankle during the filming of the first Matrix film, and had another injury shortly after beginning training for the second.
In an interview, Moss said: “I broke my leg on a wire. I broke my leg the first week of training.”
“It was a challenge to overcome right off the bat.”
“I came in really gung-ho and ready to do it and then I got an obstacle given to me in the very beginning.”
“But, I’m all for obstacles to overcome.”
“We trained for six months before we started training.”
“I came to work everyday and watched them train.”
18. Creating Bugs Are Harder Than It Looks
There is a scene were a bug enters Keanu’s belly button.
A model torso, specific to Keanu, was created.
During the making of the film, there was a mix of prosthetic devices, pure animation, and digital effects (i.e. Neo’s mouth sealing.)
When the bug is pulled of the case, it is real.
After that moment, the bug is digital.
A model maker spent twelve weeks making the bug extractor.
19. Twins Were Used During Filming
In the “Agent Training Program” sequence, all the extras are twins.
Some of these twins are duplicated many times.
Since the ATP was designed by Tank (Marcus Chong) he would have used such a shortcut.
The crowd was shot separately from the main actors (Fishburne and Reeves).
Neo and Morpheus acted against the crowd on green screen.
Agent Smith was represented by a light.
20. Numbers Play A Big Role
Numbers play a big role in the movie.
The numbers 1 and 3 are everywhere.
Neo is an anagram for “one.”
Carrie-Ann Moss’s character is “Trinity,” i.e. three.
Numbers spotted in the background often have the numerals 1 and/or 3 in them.
Not related to numbers, but Morpheus in Greek mythology is the God of dreams, appropriate for Laurence Fishburne’s character.
Know any other fans of The Matrix? Then be sure to share this post with them so they too can ‘swallow the red pill’ and take a look back at this classic film!
Matrix Actors: Now And Then
Now you’re all clued up on your interesting facts, let’s have a look at some of the cast now compared to the film’s release in 1999.
Keanu Reeves – Neo
Keanu played the computer programmer Thomas A. Anderson.
He spends his spare time hacking systems under the name Neo.
Reeves reprised his role for both sequels.
He also appeared in films like ‘The Gift,’ ‘Constantine,’ ‘The Lake House,’ ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still.’
During the filming of The Matrix, Reeves fell in love with martial arts and became friends with Tiger Hu Chen, who would star alongside Reeves in his directorial debut ‘Man of Tai Chi’ in 2013.
Reeves also recently appeared in the box-office bomb ’47 Ronin,’ and ‘John Wick.’
Laurence Fishburne – Morpheus
Fishburne played the human who freed himself from the Matrix, Morpheus.
The Wachowskis also considered Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson for the role.
Fishburne played Morpheus in all three ‘Matrix’ films.
Since the Matrix, Fishburne has appeared in films like ‘Assault on Precinct 13,’ ‘Mission: Impossible III,’ ‘Predators’ and ‘Contagion.’
He reprised his Matrix role in a Super Bowl commercial for Kia.
Carrie-Anne Moss – Trinity
Carrie-Anne Moss played Trinity, another human to break the shackles of The Matrix.
Before this, Moss didn’t have much of an acting career.
She was surprised that she was given the role.
Moss went on to star in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Memento.’
She also starred in films such as ‘Disturbia,’ ‘Love Hurts’ and ‘Silent Hill: Revelation.’
Hugo Weaving – Agent Smith
The incredible Hugo Weaving played the sinister Agent Smith.
Unlike other agents in The Matrix, Smith was the only one to have free will.
He was previously known for his role in ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.’
After The Matrix, Weaving starred in another of the Wachowski’s films, ‘V for Vendetta.’
He also played Elrond in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Hobbit’ trilogies.
He reunited with the Wachowskis in 2012 for various roles in ‘Cloud Atlas.’
Joe Pantoliano – Cypher
Pantoliano played another human freed by Morpheus, Cypher.
Unlike his fellow humans, Cypher wants to go back to the blissful ignorance of the Matrix.
Pantoliano previously starred in the Wachowski’s debut film ‘Bound.’
After ‘The Matrix,’ Pantoliano reunited with Carrie-Anne Moss for Christopher Nolan’s ‘Memento.’
He also appeared in films like ‘Bad Boys II,’ ‘Wedding Daze,’ ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief’ and ‘Deadly Impact.’
From 2000 to 2004, he played Ralph Cifaretto on ‘The Sopranos,’ and he starred on season 2 of the short-lived HBO series ‘How to Make It in America.’
His most recent film credits include parts in ‘Loosies’ and ‘Spring Break ’83,’ both released in 2011.