In 1999, cinema collectively swallowed the red pill when ‘The Matrix’ opened to widespread critical acclaim. The Wachowskis showed us how deep the rabbit-hole really was with mind-blowing cyberpunk visuals, a philosophy-plundering plot, and genuinely breathtaking martial arts.
The filmmaking siblings’ sci-fi stunner was oft imitated but never bettered, even by its more ambitious, but ultimately disappointing subsequent sequels, but the original still stands up as a true genre classic.
But how have the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar fared in the years since? Join us as we follow the white rabbit to find out how the intervening years have treated the film’s primary cast.
Keanu Reeves – Neo
Keanu landed the role of super hacker Thomas Anderson after a series of Hollywood megastars including Will Smith, Nic Cage, and Johnny Depp all passed.
He reprised the role twice in ‘The Matrix Reloaded’ and ‘The Matrix Revolutions’ and the ‘Speed’ star avoided typecasting by appearing in experimental films like ‘Thumbsucker’ and ‘A Scanner Darkly’, but his career has slowed down in recent years.
After the commercial disaster of ’47 Ronin’, the actor is now on the comeback trail with revenge thriller ‘John Wick’ and horror film ‘Knock Knock’ which premiered at Sundance to huge acclaim. Surely ‘Bill & Ted 3’ can’t be far behind?
Laurence Fishburne – Morpheus
Fishburne may not have seemed like the obvious choice to play Neo’s acrobatic mentor, in fact, both Samuel L Jackson and Gary Oldman were considered first before he got the part, but now it’s hard to imagine anyone else as Morpheus.
He returned for both ‘Matrix’ sequels and has since appeared in a number of action films including ‘Assault On Precinct 13’, ‘Mission: Impossible III’, and ‘Predators’. He found newfound fame on TV playing Dr Langston in ‘CSI’ for 3 seasons, but most youngsters nowadays will recognize him as Perry White, Lois Lane’s irascible editor in ‘Man Of Steel’, a role he’ll reprise for ‘Batman V Superman’.
Carrie-Anne Moss – Trinity
The Canadian actress was virtually unknown before she landed the role of a lifetime playing Neo’s love interest Trinity. The following year she appeared in Chris Nolan’s amnesiac mystery ‘Memento’, Johnny Depp rom-com ‘Chocolat’, and sci-fi bomb ‘Red Planet’ before she returned to the ‘Matrix’ world for the sequels.
The 47-year-old has enjoyed a solid career since her breakthrough appearing in ‘Snow Cake’, Shia LaBeouf teen’s ‘Rear Window’ remake ‘Disturbia’, and last year’s ‘Pompeii’. She’s just joined the cast of Netflix’s forthcoming Marvel show ‘AKA Jessica Jones’, so we can expect to hear a lot more from Moss in the coming months.
Hugo Weaving – Agent Smith
The 54-year-old Kiwi is statistically one of the most successful actors of all time thanks to roles in the ‘Matrix’, ‘Lord Of The Rings’, and ‘Hobbit’ trilogies, as well as ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ and the first three ‘Transformers’ films in which he voiced Megatron.
He worked again with the Wachowskis again on ‘V For Vendetta’ and 2012’s sprawling head-scratcher ‘Cloud Atlas’. He currently has two new films in the pipeline including ‘The Dressmaker’ with Kate Winslet that has been intriguingly described as “’Unforgiven’ with a sewing machine” by its director.
Joe Pantoliano – Cypher
Joe Pantoliano - or Joey Pants to his friends - played the duplicitous Cypher in the 1999 film (surely his name was a giveaway?), but he was an already established face in the movie world thanks to roles in ‘The Fugitive’, ‘The Goonies’ and ‘Risky Business’.
He joined HBO’s hit gangster show ‘The Sopranos’ as hotheaded mobster Ralph Cifaretto in 2000, winning a Best Supporting Actor Emmy in 2003. In 2007 Pantoliano revealed that he’d been suffering with clinical depression for a decade and has since become an active campaigner for raising awareness of mental health issues.
Marcus Chong – Tank
Recognise the name? Yes, that’s right Marcus Chong, who played the natural born “operator” Tank in ‘The Matrix’, is the adopted son of American comic Tommy Chong, best known one half of stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong.
His character didn’t make it to the sequels – spoiler alert – and he’s since appeared in a number of ‘Law & Order’ episodes, straight-to-DVD sequel ‘The Crow: Wicked Prayer’, and spy show ‘Burn Notice’. Marcus recently completed work on his first novel ‘The Arch’.
Julian Arahanga – Apoc
Kiwi actor Julian Arahanga was one of many antipodean thesps who benefitted from the Wachowskis shooting ‘The Matrix’ at Fox Studios in Sydney.
He was recognizable face Down Under already after appearing in Lee Tamahori’s acclaimed Maori drama ‘Once Were Warriors’ and it’s less successful sequel ‘What Becomes of The Broken Hearted’.
Post-‘The Matrix’, in which he played crewmember Apoc, he’s continued acting and is now an accomplished documentary director.
Matt Doran – Mouse
Nerdy programmer Mouse would have been easily recognizable to 90s teens, students and general layabouts as Damien Roberts from ‘Home And Away’.
Actor Matt Doran appeared in the Aussie soap from 1992-1996 before he broke into movies in Terrence Malick’s ‘The Thin Red Line’. He followed that up with appearances in ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clone’ in which he played death stick peddler Elan Sleazebaggano (honestly), but he failed to maintain that impressive career momentum.
His most recent IMDB credit is in ‘Battle Of The Damned’, a straight-to-DVD action film that stars Dolph Lundgren as Max Gatling, a battle-hardened mercenary who leads an army of robots into war against zombies. Seriously.
Belinda McClory – Switch
The role of Switch was originally due to be played by two androgynous actors, with a male actor in the “real world” and a female actor in the Matrix, to represent the illusion of avatars (or something) but this idea was eventually dropped, with Aussie actress Belinda McClory fulfilling both halves of the parts.
Her bleach-blonde character didn’t make it the sequels and Belinda has since appeared in a number of low budget horror films. She recently branched out into screenwriting and her latest film ‘Turkey Shoot’, in which she stars and co-wrote, was released last year starring Dominic Purcell of ‘Prison Break’ fame.
Anthony Ray Parker – Dozer
Although born in America, Anthony Ray Parker relocated to New Zealand in the late 90s, appearing regularly on TV often alongside Kiwi TV personality Suzanne Paul, before landing the role of Dozer, the freeborn pilot of the Nebuchadnezzar.
He went on to appear as Mephistopheles in an episode of ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’, and opposite wrestler John Cena in ‘The Marine’. Anthony has recently enjoyed more steady employment playing rebel slave Sanus in Starz’ swords, sandals, and six packs series ‘Spartacus: War of the Damned’.
Rowan Witt – Spoon Boy
The young actor who implored Neo to remember “there is no spoon” on his visit to see the Oracle actually quit acting following his time on ‘The Matrix’, but it seems like the star – now 26 – is making a bit of a comeback.
He’s appeared in a number of web shows online recently, as well as having a small part in erotic thriller ‘X: Night Of Vengeance’, penned by ‘Matrix’ co-star Belinda McClory. His most high profile role to date came opposite Naomi Watts and Robin Wright comically naff melodrama ‘Adore’.
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