Whether or not you enjoyed the performances of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jonathan Groff in The Matrix Resurrections, it’s still hard to imagine plugging back in without Lawrence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving donning the iconic mantles of Morpheus and Agent Smith once more. With regards to Weaving, it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
In a recent interview with Gizmodo, co-writers David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon revealed that Weaving had preliminary talks to return to the Matrix, but nothing ever came of it. According to Hemon:
“So we did write some roles, I’m not going to give it away, but we wrote a character for someone we thought would play [it] and then it was not possible. And so still, we didn’t change anything radically, but we were just imagining this actor in the role. And then it turned out that it was not possible, but we didn’t change any lines with that. So that actor is still inscribed in the role.”
When pushed about whether that character was indeed Smith, Hemon revealed that they had talks with an actor presumed to be Weaving that ultimately fell through. Weaving himself earlier spoke about scheduling conflicts with Lana Wachowski that kept him out of the production. Clearly, the expectation was that the original Smith would come back for another round and that sentiment was baked into the role that Groff inherited. The nature of The Matrix Resurrections though created an opportunity for Groff to plug in and create his own interpretation of the character that still pulls from Weaving’s original depiction.
Moreover, the writers note that even had Weaving returned, it wouldn’t necessarily be the same Smith. Hemon stated:
Because the premise of The Matrix and [this] movie is somewhat different, Agent Smith would have been different in some ways, no matter who played it. And Jonathan Groff is amazing in that role. He added a dimension that I could not foresee while we were writing. But there’s an increased emotional emotionality in the movie and then he fits into that pattern.
In Collider’s own interview with producer James McTeigue, we asked the longtime Matrix contributor about the presence of Smith in The Matrix Resurrections and just how close Weaving was to returning and he further detailed the struggles of bringing actors back:
There was always the Smith character in there. Hugo is a friend of both of ours of long standing. If we had a way of getting Hugo into the movie, we would have. But it didn’t work out. That’s just what happens in show making sometimes. Schedules can’t work out. COVID was another curve ball in the middle of it, obviously. It was a little more complicated than usual.
In the end, it may have worked out for the better. Groff’s new Smith played an ultimately different role in the film than he had as a direct archenemy to Neo in the past. Groff did his best to exemplify that change while still keeping that sinister edge Weaving infused the character with from the start of the franchise. Still, it’s clear that Weaving was always in the minds of the producers, writers, and the fans. The Matrix Resurrections is in theaters and on HBO Max now.
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