The Matrix: 5 crazy Facts About The Wachowskis’ 1999 classic

How well do you know Keanu Reeves's sic-fi hit?

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix
Neo The Matrix Image Picture Warner Bros

18 years since its release, The Matrix remains one of the most unique and innovative movies of the last 25 years.

The sequels never quite lived up to the original, but the Wachowskis’ 1999 classic influenced a generation of sci-fi films, and remains one of the best movies of the decade.

The film delivered combined blistering martial arts action with state of the art technology and a slick cinematic style, and it’s a film always worth celebrating.

Discover 5 crazy facts about The Matrix below:

1

Will Smith turned down Neo, and Samuel L Jackson turned down Morpheus

Will Smith made one of the biggest mistakes of his career when he turned down the role of Neo in favour of the abysmal Wild Wild West. He wasn’t the only one to reject the role either – Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Leonardo DiCaprio were also considered before the role went to Keanu Reeves. The part of Morpheus nearly went to another star too. The character was famously played by Laurence Fishburne, but Russell Crowe, Sean Connery and Samuel L Jackson all turned down the role. Who knew?

2

Hugo Weaving needed surgery after a nasty on-set injury

The Wachowskis wanted all their actors to film their stunts themselves in the movie, and that meant all the stars were involved in martial arts training before the shoot. The lead actors took part in training every day for four months, and Agent Smith actor Hugo Weaving required hip surgery after sustaining a nasty injury. He wasn’t the only actor who had to overcome setbacks before filming began either. Keanu Reeves had cervical spine surgery beforehand, meaning he had to wear a neck-brace throughout filming, and was unable to kick properly during shooting.

3

The movie created the famous ‘bullet time’ effect

Amongst the movie’s most recognisable moments came in the form of the famous ‘bullet time’ shot, which was used for Neo’s back-bending bullet-dodging stunt. The Matrix was the first film to ever feature the technology, which involved 120 cameras in a ring. By the time 2002 came along, the sequence had been parodied in over 20 movies.

4

The movie defied the studio’s budget plans again and again

The Wachowskis were still relatively unknown at the time, and as a result Warner Bros didn’t trust them with a big budget. The pair originally pitched for $80m, but were only granted $10m to make the film. In defiance of the studio, the directors blew all of it on the opening scene, which took six months of preparation and four days of filming to complete. However, rather than being angered by their decision, studio bosses were so impressed with the opening scene that they pledged the extra $70m they required.

5

It’s cleverly colour-coded all the way through

The Matrix red pill and blue pill
Exercise pill The Matrix's red and blue pill. Image Warner Bros Pictures

The red and blue pills might seem like the most important colours in the movie, but did you know the film is cleverly colour-coded all the way through? All the scenes taking place in the Matrix are heavily tinted with red, while those taking place in the real world are tinted blue. Interestingly, the fight between Morpheus and Neo takes place in neither of the two worlds, and its coloured yellow as a result.

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Loaded staff writer Harry Fletcher has covered news, sport and entertainment for several major websites across the UK. Follow him on Twitter at @Harry__Fletcher.