So… will you take the red pill or the blue pill? “The Matrix” remains one of the most iconic and influential sci-fi films of all time. Keanu Reeves stars as underground hacker Neo, who gets sucked into a war between humans and machines fought within a massive computer simulation. The film won multiple Academy Awards, and continues to have a huge influence on pop culture even 20 years later. Here are a few easter eggs and facts about the first movie… just don’t tell the Agents we told you.
10 mind-blowing facts about The Matrix
1. Anime had a huge influence on the film
The Wachowskis, the visionary siblings behind “The Matrix,” drew their inspirations from a variety of sources, including anime. In particular, they cite “Ghost in the Shell” and “Akira” as major influences on the overall tone and the stylized fight sequences of the movie. Reportedly, they even specifically told producers that they wanted the film to feel like live-action anime.
2. Will Smith turned down the role of Neo
Before eventually going to Keanu Reeves, the role of Neo was offered to a number of Hollywood giants. In particular, Will Smith was heavily considered for the role, but turned it down in favor of “Wild Wild West.” The role was also offered to Nicolas Cage, and The Wachowskis themselves have stated that a young Johnny Depp was their top choice for the part.
3. The movie includes many Alice in Wonderland references
Though they may appear unrelated at first, “Alice in Wonderland” had a huge thematic influence on The Matrix. Both deal with unsuspecting, normal people who get dragged into a mind-bending alternate world that they never realized existed. Follow the white rabbit, Neo.
4. It was the first DVD ever to sell over 1 million copies
Though the day of the DVD has come and gone, “The Matrix” came onto the scene right as DVDs were beginning to eclipse VHS tapes. It was the first DVD in the United States to sell over a million copies, and went even further to become the first to break the 3 million mark. At last count, the total tally stands at over 30 million DVD copies sold.
5. A lot of the dojo fight scenes were real
The scenes where Neo and Morpheus train together in the dojo feature some tightly crafted fight sequences. The crazy thing is, those aren’t stunt doubles. Much of the time, to preserve the authenticity, the actors did their own stunts. They weren’t pulling punches, either: all that kung-fu is real, and oftentimes the fight scenes would end with actual bruises and injuries.
6. The Agent’s costumes were inspired by the Secret Service
Costumes play a big role in “The Matrix.” From custom sunglasses to bespoke ties and skin-tight catsuits, every costume works together to create a distinct visual style. In the case of the infamous Agents, the costume designer wanted a practical, undercover look that would set them apart from the more stylishly adorned hackers. For this look, real-life Secret Service agents served as inspiration, particularly as they were portrayed in the film “JFK.”
7. The Matrix code uses real-life languages
The shining emerald green lines of the Matrix’s computer code are made up of rapidly changing, stylized characters. At first glance, this appears to be an entirely fictional language, but it actually isn’t. The Matrix code was created by blending together Japanese half-width kana and Latin characters. Coder Simon Whitely worked closely with his wife, who is Japanese, to create the iconic code. What does the code translate to? According to Whitely, it’s just a bunch of sushi recipes.
8. Keanu Reeves shaved his entire body for the pod scene
Early in the movie, Neo is awoken from his computer-simulated life to find out that his actual body is being held in a gel-filled feeding pod for the machines to use. For the scene, Reeves went above and beyond, going so far as to shave and wax his entire body. He also voluntarily dropped 15 pounds to give Neo a starved look; the weight loss meant this was one of the final scenes to be completed for the movie.
9. Each character has a unique fighting style
To create the movie’s tightly choreographed hand-to-hand fight scenes, The Wachowskis hired martial artist to Yuen Woo-Ping to train each of the primary actors. Each actor spent four months training with Yuen, where he developed a fighting style unique to each actor. To do so, he focused on a trait specific to each actor and trained around it. For Neo (Keanu Reeves), it was “diligence.” For Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), it was “resilience.” Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) was built around “precision” and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) was “grace.”
10. WB is currently working on a Matrix reboot
That’s right, Warner Brothers currently has a Matrix reboot in the works. First announced in 2017, exact plans are still murky, and the films don’t currently involve The Wachowskis. Zak Penn, known for his writing work on several Marvel superhero films, has been tapped for a rewrite. Who’s going to star? Michael B. Jordan, famously known as “Black Panther” antagonist Erik Killmonger.
To paraphrase the iconic words of Morpheus, it’s time to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Head over to Softonic’s Where to Watch site discover where to watch “The Matrix” online right now, and see if you can spot any other references or easter eggs we might have missed. Just remember… there is no spoon.