Originally conceived as a comic book series by the Wachowski Brothers, The Matrix opened the world’s eyes in 1999, grossing $460 million globally, winning four Academy Awards, and making everyone question their reality. It spawned two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, and the Matrix universe was further expanded through comic books, video games, and animated short films.
Here are some facts about the Matrix Trilogy that will free your mind.
Matrix Trilogy Facts
41. Going Corporate
The corporation that Neo works for in the first movie is called MetaCortex, the etymology of which are “meta” (to go beyond, higher, to transcend) and “cortex” (the outer layer of gray matter surrounding the brain). So, put together, MetaCortex means to transcend the boundaries of the brain. To free his mind. Exactly what Neo ends up doing.
40. Those Are Good Movies Too
The producers were concerned that people would steal all the promotional items for The Matrix Reloaded, so they sent the posters in tubes labelled “Caddyshack 2” and “The Replacements,” leading many theatres to believe they hadn’t yet received the materials and left scrambling to put them up at the last minute.
39. Gambling Men
The Wachowski brothers pitched the original Matrix film to Warner Brothers with an $80 million budget. They were only given $10 million. They used that entire budget to film the opening sequence with Trinity and, after showing Warner Brothers the footage, they were given the $80 million they originally asked for. Which just goes to show you, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade, and then throw it in the eyes of the people who gave you the lemons and demand the oranges you wanted in the first place.
38. Color Coded
The filmmakers used color to distinguish between the Matrix and the real world. The Matrix was tinted green. The real world had a blue tint. The training fight between Neo and Morpheus was tinted yellow because it takes place in neither.
37. Have You Tried Plugging It In?
The Matrix has been rebooted several times and the trilogy focuses on the 6th iteration as the machines continually try and build a stable simulation of reality.
36. Keanu Reeves: Daredevil
The scene in which Neo climbs out of the window onto the ledge on the 34th floor of a building was not faked nor were stuntmen employed. Keanu actually did it himself.
35. Keanu Reeves: Inquisitor
Keanu Reeves has 80 lines in the first 45 minutes of the film and 44 of those lines are questions.
34. Smith vs. Smith
Will Smith was offered the part of Neo but he turned the role down to star in the Wild Wild West, instead preferring to do battle with a giant robot spider as opposed to a giant robot squid. Smith admitted he didn’t understand the script and said, “I would have absolutely messed up ‘The Matrix’.” At least he knew it.
33. Neo Sparrow
Johnny Depp was actually the Wachowski’s first choice to play Neo but Warner Brothers wanted Brad Pitt or Val Kilmer. After both of them passed, Warner Brothers was willing to consider Depp, but they were pushing Keanu Reeves. Obviously, Reeves got the part, but it would have been fun to see Depp playing Neo as a washed-up pirate.
Sign up to our newsletter.
History’s most fascinating stories and darkest secrets, delivered to your inbox daily. Making distraction rewarding since 2017.
A number of identical twins were cast as extras for the “Woman in Red” scene where Morpheus takes Neo on a guided tour through a computer simulation of The Matrix. This was done to create the illusion of a repeating program. Either that or to sell gum.
31. Fun with Anagrams
As is often noted, Neo is an anagram for One. Also, the Wachowski Brothers is an anagram for “A hicks herb rots,” and Matrix is an anagram for “Rim Tax”.
30. A History of Bullet Time
The innovative Bullet Time visual from the first Matrix film was achieved with a rig that contained 120 individual digital still cameras and two film cameras. The still images were stitched together to create the shot one frame at a time. The first test shot of Bullet Time was a 360-view of an exploding garbage can.
29. Padding the Resume
In order to prove to Warner Brothers that they had the directorial experience required to helm The Matrix, The Wachowski Brothers wrote and directed the crime thriller Bound, which became a modest hit.
28. Mighty Morphin’ Morpheus
Russell Crowe, Sean Connery, and Samuel L. Jackson all turned down the role of Morpheus before Laurence Fishburne finally accepted. While it is difficult to imagine anyone else but Fishburne in the role, it is amusing to think of Samuel L. Jackson asking if Neo wants the blue pill or the red pill in the hilariously profane way that only Samuel L. can.
27. Philosophy Majors
Several philosophy texts were mandated by the Wachowski brothers as required reading for all the actors. These tomes included “Simulacra and Simulation” by Jean Baudrillard, “Out of Control” by Kevin Kelly, and “Introducing Evolutionary Psychology” by Dylan Evans and Oscar Zarate. The film likely resulted in a 12,000% spike in book sales for these authors.
26. Meep Meep!
In an attempt to balance the pretentiousness of all that philosophy, the scene where Neo tries and fails to jump from one building to another was modeled after Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff.
25. Tough Negotiator
Choreographer Yuen Woo-ping did not want to work on the film, and in order to dissuade the Wachowskis, asked for an exorbitant fee. They agreed. So to try and dissuade them further, he demanded that he have complete control over all the fight scenes and be given four months to train all the actors. Again, the Wachowskis agreed. Lacking the imagination to come up with something crazier, he went to work on the film and created some of the most memorable fight scenes in recent history.
24. Kick Off
Keanu Reeves had cervical spine surgery prior to his martial arts training which required he wear a neck brace for its duration. Because of this, Keanu was not able to kick effectively so choreographer Yuen Woo-ping adjusted his moves so that Neo hardly ever throws a kick.
23. Have a Ball Gag
The S&M club where Neo first meets Trinity is actually the Hellfire Club in Sydney. The Wachowskis simply asked the regulars to show up in their costumes and be themselves. And they did.
22. Take That Lucasfilm!
The Matrix was the most celebrated sci-fi film in a year that also saw the much-anticipated release of The Phantom Menace. It beat The Phantom Menace in each of their categories at the 72nd Golden Globes taking Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound. Who needs the Force when you’ve got Golden Globes?
21. Keyed Up
The key of the opening theme, comprised of strings and horn blasts and heard at the beginning of every Matrix movie, ascends by one tone in each subsequent film starting with E in The Matrix, F-sharp in The Matrix Reloaded, and ending with G-sharp in The Matrix Revolutions.
20. Thumbs Up
When he thumbs his nose before fighting Morpheus, Keanu Reeves cribbed a move from one of the greatest martial artists of all time: Bruce Lee.
19. Getting Away With Murder
There is an actual legal term called “The Matrix Defence,” where the defendant claims they committed a crime because they thought they were living in The Matrix instead of the real world. Shockingly, this defence has been used successfully several times and is a version of an insanity plea.
18. Nice Guns
In the first film, when Mouse is cornered during the SWAT raid, he pulls out a pair of cam-operated, electrically-driven 12-gauge automatic shotguns with 25-round drum magazines that are capable of firing at 900 RPM. They were custom-made specifically for this movie by the film’s key armourer, John Bowring. They clearly didn’t help him.
17. It’s a Great Screensaver
The glowing green glyphs on the computer screens are actually letters and numbers in reverse and Japanese katakana characters.
16. Extra! Extra!
The Zion rave scene in The Matrix Reloaded required over 1,000 extras and was probably about as sweaty and gross as it looked.
15. Bible Studies
There are numerous Biblical references throughout the films. For example, the Nebuchadnezzar, the name of Morpheus’ ship from the first film, is a reference to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the Book of Daniel. The King has a dream he can’t remember but keeps searching for an answer. In the second film, Agent Smith pulls up in an Audi with license plate IS 5416 which is a reference to Isaiah 54:16 which says, “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.” Also, Neo is Jesus.
14. Tough Competitor
The Matrix Reloaded earned in excess of $735,000,000 worldwide and was the most successful R-rated movie at the time. It would be surpassed a year later by The Passion of the Christ, another film about a messiah who saves the world.
13. Making Copies
In order to film the Burly Brawl, The Matrix Reloaded’s signature sequence where Neo fights 80 clones of Agent Smith, open casting calls for males with similar body shapes and structures took place, and Weaving’s head was superimposed on them afterwards.
12. What a Bargain
Jet Li was the original choice for playing Seraph in The Matrix Reloaded but when he asked for the same salary as Keanu Reeves, they rewrote the role for a female and offered it to Michelle Yeoh. When she turned it down due to scheduling conflicts, the role went to Collin Chou, a costar of Jet Li’s from many previous films, but affordable at a much lower price tag.
GM donated 300 cars for use in the production of The Matrix Reloaded and, by the end, all 300 of them were wrecked.
10. Computer Literacy
In the first sequel, Trinity uses a real hack to get into the Matrix. She uses Nmap version 2.54BETA25 (an actual port scanning tool) to find a vulnerable SSH server and then proceeds to take advantage of it using the SSH1 CRC32 exploit from 2001. If you don't understand what you just read, don't worry. Neither do we.
9. Don't Pee on It!
The inspiration for the morphing effect on the twins from the first sequel was jellyfish.
8. Try Again
The character of Zee was originally meant to be played by Aaliyah, but after her tragic death in a 2001 plane crash, she was replaced by Nona Gaye, the daughter of legendary Motown legend Marvin Gaye. Other actresses considered were Eva Mendes, Samantha Mumba, Brandy Norwood, and Tatyana Ali.
7. Highway to Nowhere
The 1.4 mile, three-lane loop highway used for The Matrix Reloaded chase scene was built specifically for the film on the decommissioned Alameda Point Navy Base and was destroyed when filming was completed.
6. Synchronize Watches!
In a never-before-seen simultaneous worldwide release, The Matrix Revolutions opened at exactly the same moment in every major city in the world on November 5th, 2003: 6 a.m. in Los Angeles, 9 a.m. in New York, 2 p.m. in London, 5 p.m. in Moscow, 11 p.m. in Toyko, 1 a.m. in Sydney, and at the corresponding times in 50 other cities all over the world.
5. Chopper Down
Production on the first film was nearly shut down after they flew the helicopter through restricted airspace in Sydney, Australia. They had to actually change laws in New South Wales in order for the movie to continue filming. But everyone agreed that saving Morpheus was worth it. Oh. Spoiler alert.
4. I’m Only Happy When It Rains
The special effects crew spent nearly two months designing the equipment to create the perfect rain drop. To compare, God did it on the first day.
3. Dance Dance Revolution
All three Matrix scenes include at least one dance club type scene. In the original, it was the S&M club where Neo meets Trinity. In the first sequel, it’s the rave scene in Zion. In the third film, it’s within the Merovingian’s dwelling after the shootout.
2. Codedrops Keep Falling on My Head
In The Matrix Revolutions, the rain coming down in the climactic battle between Neo and Smith are actually lines of Matrix code, a subtle effect added to represent the destabilization of the Matrix.
1. What a Wonderful World
The last scene of the entire trilogy, set in a park, is the only time in all three movies where you can see greenery and a blue sky inside the Matrix.