MATRIX: What is your background?
MATHEW: I’m currently doing ‘A’ levels at school in England, and I’m working towards going to University. After that, who knows.
MATRIX: Do you remember your first reaction when you found out you would have the opportunity to be in THE MATRIX for a day?
MATHEW: First of all, I wanted to run around and tell everybody I knew. When I found out, I was actually at school, so I went into the common room, where everybody hangs out when they haven’t got lessons or anything, and I told all my friends in there. Then it was all shouted around. It was really exciting, there was a buzz… I was quite looking forward to it, you could say.
MATRIX: I heard there was quite a short period of time between finding out you were going to be in THE MATRIX, and getting on the plane to San Francisco.
MATHEW: I found out on a Tuesday, I can’t remember the exact date, and we had ten days before we had to go. I went shopping to buy some clothes and Dad phoned me on my mobile and said it’s been moved forward, can we go this Sunday… which was four days away. One moment we had time to prepare, then it was pushed upon us, and we didn’t have time to worry or anything. Instead of all the worry we just sort of enjoyed it.
MATRIX: Did your whole family go?
MATHEW: Yes, my Dad, my sister and my Mum.
MATRIX: Describe a little where you come from.
MATHEW: I come from a country area in Suffolk; we live in a small town. We have to travel for 45 minutes to get to our big town, although that doesn’t seem very long it’s not on major roads, they are all small roads, so it’s not a direct route. Our biggest town is maybe about six miles across, it’s pretty large.
MATRIX: Had you been to the United States before?
MATHEW: No, none of us had. That was quite amazing as well, being in San Francisco. It was unbelievable it was just so big. We had a week in San Francisco, and made the most of it. We did a couple of tours of the city to have a look around, we visited Alcatraz, we visited a few restaurants and we did a lot of shopping (we took empty suitcases).
MATRIX: When did you first go over to the set?
MATHEW: At first I only had to go in for my fitting for the costume. We were driven to Alameda, and when we got to the place for the fitting there were factory buildings – we didn’t know what to expect, but our expectations weren’t of factory buildings. It’s difficult to say what you expect; do you expect something really big, all these massive studios and everything? When we got to set we were in aircraft hangars.
MATHEW: Not long. The Designer’s work was really good, although she didn’t draw up anything; she instantly had in mind what I was going to wear. I think it took about half an hour and they were really pleased about how it turned out, I was as well. I looked really cool.
MATRIX: Was the fitting done the day before you were due on set?
MATHEW: Yes, that was the day before. My sister also got to get dressed up because, originally, they thought she was going on as well, but because she’s only thirteen and it being an R rated film, they couldn’t let her go on. She was a bit upset because she looked really cool as well; ; she was in a Priestess costume.
MATRIX: The next day comes… how early did you have to get up?
MATHEW: I think it was half past six.
MATRIX: Did you find it difficult to adjust to the different time?
MATHEW: We flew out on the Sunday, and we got there on Sunday evening. We had three days in between, so my body clock had adjusted because someone gave us the tip of sleeping on the plane, so when you get there you don’t notice the difference. When you wake up when the plane lands, it’s morning, the same as it would be if you were back home.
MATRIX: What was the first thing they did at 6.30am?
MATHEW: Wardrobe. Then they did my hair. The hair was well cool; I loved how they did my hair. When we had finished it took me at least three washes to get all the stuff out, it was absolutely thick. I could have slept in it for a week and it still would have stayed the same. It was like a complete spike ball the whole way over, it was well good. And then we did make up.
MATRIX: Have you ever had anyone do your make up before; what was the make up like?
MATHEW: I’ve done amateur dramatics, I’ve been in a pantomime, and we had make up on for that, so I’ve had facial make up… but then came the special make up which I hadn’t had, which was really cool. Originally we couldn’t decide whether I should have a Maori tattoo and be a natural born person, or if I was going to be a person taken out of THE MATRIX with plugs. We discussed it and decided to do both, but it came back that if we had one we couldn’t have the other. So we stuck with the plugs.
MATRIX: So if you were born in THE MATRIX you could have tattoos, but if you were just out of a pod then it was plugs?
MATHEW: Yes, if you were born in the real world then you could have tattoos.
MATRIX: I think anyone who had a plug in them was fresh and new; they wouldn’t have had time to do anything to their body. So you ended up having the plugs?
MATHEW: Yes, double plugs. I had two on my chest and then four over my abdomen bit and then I also had the one in the back of my head. It was really weird seeing them – when you see them in the film they look metallic, but when you get hold of them, I’m not sure what type of material it was, it was almost like plastic. So that was kind of weird. I wasn’t expecting this whole procedure where they actually stuck these metal plugs on, but they stuck them on with glue and then all of a sudden I looked like I was from THE MATRIX, even before I’d even been in THE MATRIX, so that was really cool.
MATRIX: The plugs were put on pretty securely?
MATHEW: If I had pulled one off, I would have taken half my skin with it, I think. They were on there pretty well, I don’t think I could have pulled one off. They didn’t have to touch me up at all really during the day, even the make up stayed on.
MATRIX: How thick was the make up?
MATHEW: Not really that thick actually. They only really put some bronzing on my skin and my face and body so I looked slightly browner, but I didn’t have much make up on at all.
MATRIX: Did you get a chance to keep one of the plugs?
MATHEW: Yes, I did. I actually got to keep all of them. I showed them to my friends, some of them are really jealous.
MATRIX: I’m sure they’re jealous of the whole experience!
MATHEW: I can vouch for that.
MATRIX: After make up and wardrobe you went over to the set; there were over 900 people on set that day, did you expect there to be so many?
MATHEW: We’d been there the day before, so we knew roughly how many people there were, although we didn’t actually get to see all of the people until we got there and we got to look around more. There were loads of people, it was quite unbelievable, like having a football match.
MATRIX: You briefly met the Directors and some of the actors; what was it like getting to meet them on set?
MATHEW: It was really good, actually. You get to see them and the crew in ‘The Making of THE MATRIX’; at the end of the video you see most of the crew walking around… so even the crew is famous. It was wonderful, it was really good. I even got to meet some of the cast, which was really cool, although I didn’t get to speak to them as much as I would have liked, but I suppose it’s like that with everybody.
MATRIX: What did you actually do on set?
MATHEW: Morpheus gives a speech when he comes back to visit Zion because he hasn’t been there for ages. When he gets announced we all have to really cheer and show how happy we are to see him again. There’s another character called the Kid who wants to get a better look at Morpheus through the crowd, so he climbs this rock, and as the camera follows him up the rock you can see me sitting on the bit just below him. You can see me appear in the bottom left hand corner of the screen.
MATRIX: Did you have the opportunity to see some of the footage on the playback monitor on set?
MATHEW: John Trunk, the Video Assist man, showed me what I’d done later on. That was really cool because there was more than one camera angle. I think there were two or three because there was a crane, and there was also a standing one as well. So that was good because we got to see two different angles of the scene.
MATRIX: What would you say the atmosphere was like on set?
MATHEW: It’s funny because it’s almost like you’re working. When you finish the scene it’s like, “Yeah, we all did a good job, wahoo!” and everybody is really happy. None of the crew were angry if we did the scene wrong at all, which I don’t think we did. I think that because it’s such a big film, everybody wanted to get it right every time, just to make it really good. It was really big, the noise was… I suppose it would be like a football match when everybody is cheering, it would be just like that… or a rock concert I suppose.
MATRIX: How many times would you say you had to redo each take?
MATHEW: I think my Dad told me we did it fourteen times, which was quite a lot.
MATRIX: And that was just one shot?
MATHEW: Yes, that was just one shot.
MATRIX: And that was the shot where the Kid ran by you?
MATHEW: Yes, that’s my main scene, although I did pop up a couple of other times, but I don’t know if I’m still in them because they shot the scene where Morpheus is giving the speech with the cameras actually on Morpheus, and I’m standing lower down on the ledge below him, further down. He does his speech and I’m cheering with everybody else and after that they go into this manic dance session. I was supposed to leave, but I stayed on and they did an R rated dance scene.
MATRIX: Was there none of the dancing during the earlier part of the day?
MATHEW: No, because of the scene, they wanted it to be as naughty as possible. At first it was quite calm and placid, although it was still really manic, it wasn’t really naughty, and as it went on it just got more and more manic each time; they didn’t really have any problems with dancing. There’d be non-stop dancing for three minutes, and then the music would stop and everybody would start cheering, it was really good.
MATRIX: What was it like, for someone like yourself who doesn’t have a dance background, keeping that energy alive for three solid minutes?
MATHEW: It’s like I was going out clubbing, I tried to keep it along those lines as well as I could.
MATRIX: Did the day go well for you?
MATHEW: I would have liked to have stayed longer – I was just going on adrenaline, I didn’t need food or anything, I could have gone on and on for ages. I had so much fun that day.
MATRIX: Were there any particularly memorable reactions from your friends when you got back to the UK?
MATHEW: I think everybody wanted to hear how it went, but the only problem was it was the middle of our exams when we got back, so not everybody was around. When I got back there were also three different trips going on, some of them had gone off to Devon, which is in the south west of England, others had gone to Brugges, which is in Belgium, and then there was a biology trip as well. So unfortunately not everybody was there when I got back. It wasn’t quite as I would have liked it to be, I would have liked to tell everybody, but I had to wait for them to get back.
MATRIX: Have you decided on what your study focus is?
MATHEW: At the minute I’m doing science because I was good at that in school and also, because of my experiences in the past, I’ve got to know the subject quite well. At the minute I’m studying biology with a touch of chemistry, and next year I’m going to be taking up drama (actually, Monday I’ll be taking up drama). When I was over in the US I asked what sort of things you’d need to get into the business, and they said you don’t need a particular subject, you just need a degree. I’m going to do a biology degree and I want to go on to be a lung function technician – they study the ins and out of the lungs, like the capacity and how much you can breathe in and out. Maybe after that would be when I’d get into film.
MATRIX: You’ve got a really good credit on your resume.
MATHEW: I know, it’s going to be well impressive.
MATRIX: Having been on set, do you think these are going to be good sequels?
MATHEW: They’re going to be big sequels. On the Wednesday we got a tour of the sets, they’re in these big aircraft hangars. It’s really weird, but the sets look so real even when you’re actually in the middle of them. What we couldn’t believe was that it takes weeks to put up, and when they finish filming for a short time they simply take it all down in a few hours.
We also drove along a road which was man made for the film because they couldn’t close down a motorway, it was a couple of miles I think. Again it was ply board made to look like concrete, all along the sides of this motorway, it was really good. They had bridges going over it and signs on it, and it all looked so real when you were actually in the middle of it, but once you got round the sides you could see it was wood.
MATRIX: Are you are looking forward to sitting in the theatre and watching THE MATRIX 2 and 3?
MATHEW: Yes, I think all my friends are too. We’ll probably get a great big massive bus and all troll into the cinema and go “MATRIX 2 please”.
Interview by REDPILL