The impact of the original Matrix trilogy is not lost on Jessica Henwick, who stars in the next instalment in the franchise, Resurrections.
“It’s an iconic film and it changed pop culture,” she enthuses, “it changed film, it changed music, fashion. It entered the lexicon, ‘Glitch in the Matrix.’ So, of course, it’s crazy to be a part of it.”
Henwick plays a hacker named Bugs, who’s just as obsessed with Neo as fans of the Matrix universe are, making her the audience’s window into this new entry.
“I could really empathise with her,” Henwick says, going on to describe what it was like being on a set that was so immersive.
“What I loved about being on set was how much of it was practical,” she tells. “I think that there were only two or three times that I was on an actual green screen. But the rest of the time, the pods are there and you can see them and they were full of the goop.
“I couldn’t help but stick my hand in the goo immediately,” she laughs. “And yeah, we’re getting plugged in; we had jacks on the back of our necks and the ship was built all for real. I loved being able to walk onto set and actually see what it was going to look like in the final product.”
Henwick says that practicality adds “realism to the performance”.
“It’s not that fun when you have to act opposite like a tennis ball on a stick,” she jokes, “but if you can touch it and smell it, it does a lot.”
Co-star Neil Patrick Harris, despite his experience and extensive credits across film, TV, theatre and more, was also blown away by the experience of filming The Matrix Resurrections.
“To get to have scenes with Keanu was a sort of actor’s dream,” he tells Supanova.
“He’s such a lovely human, and I’d heard that. And then I got to have scenes as his analyst, where I got to have real scene work with him. And we got to sort of challenge each other and in an adult way, in a non-action-y, no karate-chop way. And so, I liked that, I liked having a purpose in this world.”
Harris saw the original film in cinemas its opening weekend in 1999 and has held it as the “pinnacle of action filmmaking” ever since, so he jumped at the chance to work alongside filmmaking mastermind Lana Wachowski.
“It was even more impressive than I could have imagined,” he tells. “[Lana] has a calmness to her confidence. She has an authenticity to her leadership that is infectious and everyone that’s nearby wants to participate and wants to make things better, which is weird.
“Normally, on a film set, you have all these different factions of crew, and some cast, and a studio. And everyone’s kind of coexisting, but they feel like they live in different worlds. Lana creates this world that’s a universe and everyone is on board with the final product in a way that I haven’t seen in a long, long time.”
When quizzed on what he thinks Resurrections adds to the legacy of The Matrix, Harris says “that’s probably not for me to answer and I don’t mean that to avoid the question”, largely because, “it’s just, I’m in it, I’m in the middle of it in a way that I don’t know that I have the perspective”.
Henwick adds: “I mean, what fans can expect are the same topics that were first broached in The Matrix. Robots, reality, truth, consent, big pharma, big corp – all of those topics are now more relevant than ever.
“But also, our relationship to those topics has changed. There is more awareness about technology. There’s more acceptance over it. I didn’t have a phone until I was 16 and now, I go out and I see kids who are like five and six and they’re just swiping so efficiently. So, I think that the film does address how our relationship to technology has changed and the phobia of technology has lessened.”
The Matrix Resurrections is in cinemas December 26.
Lead Image: Jessica Henwick as Bugs, Keanu Reeves as Neo/Thomas Anderson and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus in ‘The Matrix Resurrections’. Image by Murray Close