'The Matrix' cinematographer says Stanley Kubrick advice caused 'soul-numbing' sequels

The Matrix Reloaded (Credit: Warner Bros)
The Matrix Reloaded (Credit: Warner Bros)

He might have died the same year that The Matrix was released, but according to the movie's cinematographer, Stanley Kubrick's legacy cast a shadow over the less well received sequels.

The Wachowskis following the pivotal 1999 action hit with two sequels in quick succession – The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both coming out in 2003.

But the experience of making them was not a pleasant one, according to Bill Pope, who has called the process 'soul-numbing'.

Read more: Keanu touts Matrix 4’s ‘beautiful script’

Veteran lensman Pope, who's worked with the likes of Sam Raimi and Edgar Wright, as well as the Wachowskis on their 1996 debut Bound, was speaking to iconic cinematographer Roger Deakins for his Team Deakins podcast.

“Everything that was good about the first experience was not good about the last two,” Pope said.

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2014 file photo, Lana Wachowski attends the Chicago International Film Festival's screening of "Jupiter Ascending" at the AMC River East theater, in Chicago. Keanu Reeves and Wachowski are returning to the world of “The Matrix.” Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich says Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, that a fourth “Matrix” is in the works. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP, File)
Lana Wachowski (Credit: Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP)

“We weren’t free anymore. People were looking at you. There was a lot of pressure. In my heart, I didn’t like them. I felt we should be going in another direction. There was a lot of friction and a lot of personal problems, and it showed up on screen to be honest with you.

“It was not my most elevated moment, nor was it anyone else’s.

“The Wachowskis had read this damn book by Stanley Kubrick that said, ‘Actors don’t do natural performances until you wear them out.’ So let’s go to take 90! I want to dig Stanley Kubrick up and kill him.”

He added: “There is something about making a shoot that long, 276 shoot days, that is mind numbing and soul numbing and it numbs the movie.”

Read more: Explosions rock the set of The Matrix 4

Nonetheless, Pope is back on board as cinematographer for the new movie, The Matrix 4, which recommenced filming in Berlin last month.

Filming was curtailed in March in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Variety, stars including Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith Priyanka Chopra, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II have signed up for eight additional weeks of filming.

It's set for release on 1 April, 2022.