INT: Reloaded Pt. 3
Jada Pinkett SmithMost prominent among the many fresh faces that emerge in THE MATRIX RELOADED is Niobe, the feisty hovercraft captain played by Jada Pinkett Smith. The "Smith" comes from her husband Will - the hip-hop genius behind such hits as "Boom! Shake the Room" and "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head)." Already a veteran of the silver screen, Jada's extensive acting resume includes such hits THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, SCREAM 2 and JASON'S LYRIC. If her stint in RELOADED leaves you begging for more, check her out in the game "Enter the Matrix," in which she stars alongside Anthony Wong. How did it feel to come into a film franchise that was already so successful? It felt great. I'd already met the Wachowski Brothers several times for first MATRIX, so I knew the story very well. I knew exactly what they were trying to do with the first one and I was happy that they were successful with it. When I found out that they had ideas for two more films and that they'd created a character for me, I was elated, flattered and excited. Did you know what they had in mind for you RELOADED? I didn't know until about 2 months before we started training. When I met with them during the making of the first MATRIX, I didn't know that they had a concept for RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS, which are actually one big movie. Can you tell us a little about the training regimen you went through to prepare for the role? When I took on the role, I was nine months pregnant. Willow was due on November 11, but I told Andy and Larry that she was due in October. And she came on October 31st! She did me that little favor there. Two months later I started training, with fight training in the morning and weight training in the afternoon. I put on about 15 lbs of muscle and I was bench-pressing about 170. You don't really get to see it in this movie, but in REVOLUTIONS you'll get to see all of the work that I did.
Could you beat Will up at that point? I tried. I could keep him at bay, but I couldn't really get him like I wanted to. My fight training wasn't as stressful as Keanu's or Laurence's. Actually, the Kung-Fu training was pretty easy for me, because of my height. I was sort of a Kung-Fu natural. How difficult was it for you to jump into the training so soon after having a child? Well, Willow was there with me, because I was breastfeeding. My mother was also on the set throughout the entire project. So, Willow was either by my side, with my mother, or in Carrie Ann's arms. Carrie-Ann was buying her little hats and blankets. She and my mother became part of the MATRIX family, which was really great. Everyone just welcomed my family, including my husband. Did you ever get tired of wearing the leather? No. I always loved being in that outfit, because I felt very Niobe-ish in it. The more I got to put the outfit on, the more I got into it. Wasn't it constricting for the Kung-Fu moves? We actually had a stretchy material that was used for the fight scenes. It's made to look like leather, but it stretches and moves with your body. Will we find out more about your relationship with Morpheus in REVOLUTIONS? Yeah. You find out more in the last film and also in the video game, "Enter the Matrix."
What do you think about the philosophy behind the films? It's funny, because they are philosophies that we deal with every day of our life. The first film dealt with the question, "What do you believe?" This one is about choices. Every day we have to make choices, some small, some big. That's what I love about the film - it deals with such a universal concept. Did the directors do a lot of explaining to you, in terms of the philosophy of the films? There's some pretty complicated stuff going on there. They did a lot of talking with Keanu. They gave the rest of us a list of books to read and outlined a general concept, but that was it. It's kind of like how the films work - they don't infringe upon what your personal opinion might be. They leave room for you to add in your own philosophy. Can you describe the Wachowski Brothers? The Wachowski Brothers are very unique. They're probably two of the smartest people I know. Larry reads everything - I mean everything. One thing I learned from Larry - and Andy, too - is that life is about research.
Can you tell us about your experience working with Keanu? Keanu is such a sweet, generous person. Very intense, very focused. I found him to be quite inspiring, because he worked so hard - everybody's game was pushed to another level. There was no prima donna bullshit. Keanu was the first one there and the last to leave. Any Keanu anecdotes to share? One day, after we'd finished training, this huge truck pulled up to the set. And in the truck was 12 Harleys - a Harley for each of the stunt guys that worked on the Burly Brawl with him. And he gave each of them a motorcycle with a helmet and the whole deal. And he was just so gracious - he didn't make a big deal about it at all. What are some of the differences that you see in the two movies? One thing that I thought was great about this movie was Keanu's character and how they were able to bring in this feminine element - feminine in the way of that nurturing aspect that we rarely see in movies with male characters like Keanu - considering that he's supposed to be a superhero. They made a real human being out of this particular type of character. I felt that this was something that we really didn't get to see in the first one. You mentioned that we get to see more of you in REVOLUTIONS. In RELOADED, you don't really get to see much of my storyline except for the tension that exists between Lock, Morpheus and myself. In the third film, you get to see more of my journey, story-wise. You get to see a human side of Niobe. In this one, she's just a hard-ass.
Monica BellucciAnother newcomer to the MATRIX franchise is Italian hottie Monica Bellucci. Besides the knockout bod and killer accent, Bellucci brings with her a touch of controversy, having caused quite a stir at Cannes with the notoriously brutal film, IRRÉVERSIBLE. In The MATRIX RELOADED she shines as Persephone, the trophy wife of bacchanalian MATRIX power broker Merovingian. The very essence of elegance and sophistication, the radiant Bellucci dominates the frame every second she's in it.
Tell us a little about your experience working on RELOADED. All I can say is that I'm very happy to be part of this project because I'm a big fan of Larry and Andy Wachowski and their film Bound, which was a big hit in Europe. Like everybody, I fell in love with the MATRIX. Andy and Larry wanted to meet with me after they saw Malena - and I can see why, because the character of Persephone is very much like Malena in terms of the way she dresses, the way she walks, the way she talks. I had a great time working with the Wachowski Brothers because they were completely in control. In the European style, the directors are in control of the situation. Sometimes in America it is different, because the producers have so much power, the actors have so much power. Sometimes, in America, the actor tells the director where to put the camera. In Europe this doesn't exist because the director is in control. When you come from Europe and join a movie where the actors have been already working together, you are a little scared. But everyone here was so nice. Laurence Fishburne, for me, is the Lion King. He has such a presence, he takes care of you, he is so protective. Keanu is more shy, and he has such a big heart. And Carrie-Ann and I get along so well. When I saw her in MATRIX, I thought it was incredible that, as an actress in an action movie, she was able to be so strong and feminine at the same time. It was a new representation of a woman in an action movie. Nothing is a coincidence in these films. Persephone, as I'm sure you know, comes from Greek mythology. She was the daughter of Zeus and the Demeter, and she was kidnapped by Hades, the king of the underworld. She was allowed to come back to the living world to join her mother. This story means a lot in terms of understanding my character. She's an old program - she's not human - but she wants to feel human emotions. There is something really sad, really tragic about her. What would you say is the main difference between Larry and Andy? Larry and Andy are so mysterious. I'm so sad that I didn't get time to develop a deeper relationship with them, because I'd love to know where the MATRIX came from, what kind of philosophy they read.
Were you disappointed that you didn't get to do any martial arts? Yes, but in the dress I wore it would have been so difficult. What kind of reaction do you think you'll get in Cannes with this movie? Huge. Because in Europe, everyone is waiting for this movie. This film is incredible in the way it touched a generation. This film is like a Blade Runner - it isn't just special effects, it is a man looking meaning, looking for his God. What do you think of the film's philosophy? I come from a Catholic background, but I'm not Catholic. Like everybody, I'm looking for answers. So, in a way I think we all recognize ourselves in these films. Now to the important question, how good of a kisser is Keanu Reeves? The kiss was very intense. We did it so many times, because they wanted to film it in so many different ways. It's so funny, because you have to do something so deep and intimate with someone you don't know. But this is acting. It's a coincidence, because when I was a model, eight years ago, I had a small part in DRACULA. And what did I have to do? I had to kiss Keanu Reeves. Eight years later, I'm doing it again.