SYDNEY, Australia (Zap2it.com) – On Day 212 of the almost year-long combined shoot of “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions” (with a reported 72 days to go), the company of the simultaneously-shooting “Matrix”sequels are holding a press conference about the highly-anticipated upcoming sci-fi franchise entries slated for release in May and November of 2003.
Though the Wachowski brothers, the visionary writer-directors behind “The Matrix” and its two sequels, are busy setting up the day’s filming, present at the press conference are “Matrix” trilogy producer Joel Silver, as well as cast members Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Harold Perrineau, Nona Gaye and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Silver, whose name is synonymous with big action features, describes the second and third films of the trilogy as “not two movies – it’s just one enormous movie that’s being cut in half and shown in two halves.”
On these two halves, however, principal photography is only half the battle as months’ worth of visual effects work remain to be overlaid on both movies — and a lot has changed since even the 1999 blockbuster.
“The computer is allowing us to do things that we never dreamed we could do before,” Silver explains. “The bullet-time sequences (in ‘The Matrix’) were in the embryonic stage of what the computer can do. Now it’s at such a level that (the Wachowskis) can do anything they want.”
About the notoriously secretive Wachowskis, brothers Larry and Andy, Fishburne, who once again takes on the role of rebel leader Morpheus, jokes, “Little is known about the Wachowski brothers. They have a secret code that exists between the two of them. They’re not very verbal, but they are incredibly trusting of who we are and what we bring. Their visual style makes it very interesting to be on set and to be with them when they’re composing or creating these wonderful shots.”
Returning from the original film are Keanu Reeves as Neo, Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, Fishburne, and Hugo Weaving as the villainous Agent Smith. They are joined by singer/model Nona Gaye (daughter of Marvin Gaye) playing a resident of the “real world” of Zion named Zee, Harold Perrineau as her husband, Link, and Jada Pinkett Smith as the mysterious Niobe, a woman of Zion who doesn’t believe Neo could be “the chosen one” at the beginning of the new movies.
Pinkett Smith, along with the rest of the key cast, participated in months of rigorous training to prepare for the substantial physicality required for their roles.
“I’ve never had such intense training in my life and I have to say that I’m in the best condition that I’ve ever been in at 31,” Pinkett Smith admits. “I had no idea that I can do half the stuff I can do!”
“A lot of people, I don’t think, understand just how incredibly taxing all this work is physically,” Fishburne adds. “If you look at ‘Revisited,’ there’s a small clip of Keanu at rest off somewhere and there’s steam rising up off his head. The amount of time and the hours that we are required to train are the kind of hours that professional athletes deal with.”
As for how Reeves keeps up with all this, the characteristically tight-lighted actor reveals, “It’s been a very strict diet and very vigorous, rigorous training.”
To stay true to the ideal to create a “new experience” for the audience, the cast and producer demur when it comes to questions about the plot, the characters and almost any other level of detail in regards to the two movies.
Silver laid it out in broad strokes, however.
“It’s about all of us, about our role in our lives and what our lives are about,” the producer explains. “The boys are geniuses because they’ve come up with a concept of a system, which is everywhere we’re going and where we have to stop. It’s a treatise on our times and where we’re going and how do we not go there.”
If that’s too vague, Reeves reveals that despite the new powers the audience saw him with at the end of the first “Matrix,” “The brothers have put up some great obstacles to test those powers. The story goes outside of the Matrix and starts to concern itself with the machines and Zion. So, it’s almost what he can do in the Matrix is not enough. He’s still on the path of discovery and choice.”
But then the cast returns to their more reined-in approach to question-answering as Fishburne replies to a question about the significance of the franchise in cinematic history.
“We all are aware of the fact that we are involved in something that is absolutely history-making in terms of cinema in the world, so it’s a great, great honor,” the man playing Morpheus says.
However, Joel Silver proves more than confident about the potential success of the two films.
“This will end the way movies have been made up to now,” he boasts.
And lest you think that the producer has any qualms about audiences relating to the increasingly complex franchise as the trilogy continues, Silver adds, “I think that people were able to understand (the first film) and go with it, and I believe they’re really anxious to see where it’s going to go.”