Hugo Weaving will not reprise the role of Agent Smith in The Matrix 4 after director Lana Wachowski “pulled the plug” on his return over scheduling concerns.
The star told Coming Soon that Wachowski was initially “very keen” for him to be involved with the belated sequel, once again playing the AI antagonist.
Weaving attended a read-through of the script with returning stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss and agreed to come back, despite having some reservations with elements of the story.
“I loved a lot of it and wasn’t sure about other bits,” said the 60-year-old star.
“Ultimately, we talked about it and, when the offer came through to do it from Warner’s, I said yes the next day and I talked to Lana.”
Wachowski was keen for Weaving to film from February this year until May, but this would have conflicted with existing commitments to a National Theatre production of The Visit.
The actor suggested he could film his scenes later and negotiations were progressing, but the filmmaker ultimately decided to move in another direction.
He said: “Lana decided she didn’t think it was going to work. So, she pulled the plug on the negotiations. That’s where it ended up.
“She basically didn’t feel that my commitment to the National Theatre was going to fit in with the dates that she had in mind for me.
“It was a shame in one way that I couldn’t be with them all in Berlin, but that was her call.”
Wachowski is directing The Matrix 4 solo, without her sister Lilly, and also co-wrote the script with Aleksander Hemon and David Mitchell.
The movie began shooting earlier this year, but was forced to hit the pause button in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Weaving added: “I don’t know how they’re going, but, yeah, it would be lovely to be over there to hang out with them all.
“I’m very fond of Keanu and Carrie. I haven’t seen them for a while. But I look forward to seeing it.”
The plot of The Matrix 4 is still completely shrouded in secrecy, though Reeves noted last year that the script is “very ambitious, as it should be”.
Reeves and Moss are due to reprise their roles from the original trilogy, with Jada Pinkett Smith also returning as Niobe.
Morpheus actor Laurence Fishburne previously confirmed that he would not be in the new movie.
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Franchise newcomers include Priyanka Chopra, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff.
The Matrix 4 is due to be released into cinemas in April 2022.