Before filming what would become one of the best action movies of all time – The Matrix – the lead actors could have squeezed in filming another movie. But instead, they spent four months in kung fu and wire fighting training, so that the actors could do as many of their own stunts as possible. In a 1999 interview with Empire magazine, Keanu Reeves explained the training and filming process.
“The Matrix is, I think, character and story-oriented. That’s why they wanted the actors to do the fight sequences. So they could pull the camera back and you could always have a sense of place. And in terms of the story, something is being acted out.”
Reeves continued discussing making the science fiction movie; “I love the tension; after five hours of setting a shot up and then getting one go at it. I kinda like that. It’s terrifying but it’s also exciting. It’s great. That fall where I jump from the building, that was like a 35-foot wire-jump. They just had some guys and a machine dropping me upside down.”
“I got good enough to do the front flip and the back flip and the run up the wall. And I got to do one of the spins, so I really enjoyed it. But I don’t know,” Reeves pondered, “in an odd way that was the easy part. It’s finding the interior of the character that’s the challenge.”
The 1999 interview with Reeves is an interesting time capsule because it spends a long time discussing his reputation as dumb and as a bad actor. Now that Reeves is a respected Hollywood veteran, who is generally beloved by all, this seems odd now. Reeves will turn 60 in 2024, but he’s been firmly back in the action sphere for the last decade, thanks to John Wick. He also revisited The Matrix in 2021’s Resurrections.
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