By Gill Pringle

Belated sequels are a dicey proposition, and the fourth entry in the already patchy Matrix series is starting to look increasingly shaky. Original co-director Lilly (formerly Andy) Wachowski is out, leaving Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski alone in the director’s chair, while major player Laurence Fishburne is also nowhere to be found in the current credits list. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Jada Pinkett Smith will, however, return. A major omission though will be Australian actor Hugo Weaving, whose villainous Agent Smith was a series highlight, and also a movie bad guy for the ages. And according to the actor, he’s not sitting this one out voluntarily.

“I wanted to do it,” Weaving told FilmInk during an interview for his upcoming film Hearts And Bones. “I was on board. Lana and I talked. The negotiations have fallen through. I’ve got an offer from a theatre company in London, so there were some date clashes, but it was completely doable. She has now seen not to involve me anymore. I’m absolutely shocked about it. I’ve worked with the Wachowskis five times. It’s a very odd thing that’s happened. She’s just pulled the plug on me being in it. I asked for some date changes, but it was perfectly doable. It’s like seven scenes over five months and I wasn’t available for one the first month. And because of that, I had said, ‘I’d like to do both these things.’ It’s a wonderful play, and a wonderful offer. I had this offer from this theatre company first. I said that I really wanted to do both. Lana and I had long conversations…very, very open and fruitful and fun. She said that she would see if we can make it work. It took weeks and weeks and weeks. Finally, we worked it out. I had held off on this theatre company and had never made a decision about doing it. So, as soon I got the go ahead, I told the theatre company, ‘Yes, I’m in.’ A week later, the day I arrived in Toronto, I didn’t even get a call. I got a text from Lana saying, ‘I’ve changed my mind.’”

The decision hit Weaving very hard. “You can hear that I’m very emotional about it,” he said. “The story will be how he was unavailable, he was doing a play. I was totally available. She’s just become very wounded by me, for some reason. It’s a much too complicated story, really. But that’s the truth of it. I very much was available, and very much wanted to do it. I had reservations about doing it again and we talked about that. I was very open about that. ‘Is this a good idea, going back to The Matrix?’”

So, no, Hugo Weaving won’t be going back into The Matrix, but will instead be appearing in The National Theatre in London’s production of Friedrich Durrenmatt’s The Visit adapted by Tony Kushner. “It’s absolutely fantastic,” Weaving says. “And I’m really excited about it, because I wouldn’t normally do theatre outside Sydney because it does take up quite a chunk of your life. I have another play that I’m doing in Sydney come August, and then we’re also taking another play to London the year after. So doing three pieces of theatre in a year and a bit, for me it’s like, one is more than enough. I love theatre, but it’s a very unusual future trajectory for me.”

But will Agent Smith be returning in The Matrix 4? Perhaps played by another actor, or in some strange CGI form? Weaving’s reply sums up his whole experience with the film. “I have no idea,” he frowns.

For more on Hugo Weaving and The Matrix, click here.


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