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11 Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'The Matrix' That Made Us Say 'Whoa'

Updated September 9, 2021 3.9k votes 863 voters 186.8k views11 items

List RulesVote up the 'Matrix' behind-the-scenes facts that made you say 'Whoa!'

The movie blew everyone's mind in 1999, and these The Matrix behind-the-scenes stories might just blow your mind now. At the very least, you'll probably find them pretty fascinating if you're a fan of this groundbreaking science fiction epic.

Writers/directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski created something unique - an adventure that pulled together various pop culture inspirations and married them with deep philosophical ideas about the nature of reality. Audiences couldn't get enough, turning The Matrix into one of the year's biggest hits. Two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, followed. 

Getting the movie made was a challenge. From the famous "bullet time" sequence to the action-packed lobby scene, all manner of stunt work and visual effects were necessary to bring the story's imaginary world to life. During production, one star was battling injuries, another experienced racism, and the filmmakers infused the movie with a personal sense of rage. There were happy events too, most notably Keanu Reeves once again proving himself to be the most decent guy in Hollywood.

Do you want all the scoops from the making of The Matrix? If so, pop the red pill and read on. 


  • 5

    Keanu Reeves Had A Herniated Disk And Wore A Neck Brace To Martial Arts Training

    Due to the amount of fight sequences and stunts necessary in making The Matrix, it was physically grueling on all the actors. You wouldn't know it from watching him onscreen, but Keanu Reeves put himself through the wringer to look so natural as Neo.

    A few weeks before physical training was set to begin, the actor underwent surgery for a herniated disc. Reeves showed up for the first day of fight training wearing a neck brace. When filming actually began, his neck was still in pain. He had to push through that, so it wouldn't look like Neo was suffering. 

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  • 6

    The ‘White’ Shirts Were Dyed Green To Go With The Color Scheme

    Part of the style of The Matrix is that whenever the movie ventures into that world, everything turns green. Even things that aren't that color have a green tint to them. Interestingly, the white shirts worn by characters were dyed green for these sequences. 

    Costume designer Kym Barrett explained: "We made a rule: there is no blue in the Matrix. But in the Matrix, we do infuse almost everything with green, so even what you see as white on the screen has been through a green dye bath. If you look at our white shirts, or our grays, they’ve all had a green wash."

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  • 7

    The Proof Of Concept Was A 600-Page Comic Book

    A "proof of concept" is often used when filmmakers want to tackle a risky or ambitious project. It's a proposal that can come in many forms. Regardless of that form, the intention is to give studio executives an idea of what the movie is supposed to look like and how it's supposed to feel.

    For The Matrix, Lilly and Lana Wachowski took the proof of concept idea to the max. They commissioned a 600-page comic book that contained the entire movie in storyboards. Created by comic artists Geof Darrow and Steve Skroce, the book was so elaborate and impressively detailed that Warner Bros. execs gave the filmmaking siblings a whopping $60 million budget to bring it to life. 

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  • Photo: Wild Wild West / Warner Bros. Pictures

    Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, And Will Smith All Passed On The Role Of Neo

    The Wachowskis knew they needed a leading man with great stature to play Neo. They also needed someone who was willing to go through the physical demands the role required. They went to some big names, including Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Will Smith, all of whom turned them down. 

    Years later, Smith elaborated on why he passed, telling Entertainment Weekly that the Wachowskis' relative inexperience scared him. At that point, they'd only directed one film, the neo-noir Bound, which did not exactly light up the box office. He decided to make the now-notorious flop Wild Wild West instead. 

    Although you might think he'd regret turning the movie down in retrospect, it's actually the opposite. Smith said, "I probably would have messed The Matrix up. I would have ruined it, so I did y’all a favor."

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