INT: Reloaded Pt. 4
As Laurence Fishburne strode to our interview table, I had but one thought: only Fishburne can make a bright green velour sweatsuit look cool. v More than anything else, the first MATRIX owed its hipness to him. Sure, it had the leather and the shades, but so have countless other action flicks (I recommend Sylvester Stallone's 1986 film, COBRA). It was Fishburne who made the MATRIX's seemingly incompatible combination of spirituality and style work, and it was Fishburne who lended street-cred to a film that might otherwise have been just a comic book geek's wet dream. In The MATRIX RELOADED, Fishburne reprises his role as the group's elder statesman and spiritual anchor. Oh, and he kicks a little ass, too. Wearing the aforementioned athletic apparel, he talked with us about his experience making RELOADED. You've almost infallible in the first film, but things change a bit in RELOADED. How nice is that? It makes him human. It's wonderful. You're actually a different kind of leader in a way. Well, Morpheus is the general in this movie. He's the guy that goes, "Follow me! Everyone follow me!" He's that guy. He's like Patton. Will there be a third evolution Morpheus? Well, surely. There's another shift for him in the third movie that involves him being even more vulnerable, I think. Have the Wachowskis changed at all from the first film to these last two? I'm sure it has changed them, though I'm not exactly sure how. Andy and Larry are very private people and they don't share the intimate details of their lives with very many people. Actually, outside of their immediate family, I don't know who they share those things with. But it would be foolish to think that it hasn't affected them.
Were there any changes that were apparent to you? The obvious thing to me is that they put themselves under a great amount of pressure to make sure that these two movies met the expectations that they have for them. Not necessarily anybody else's expectations. I think they put themselves under an enormous amount of pressure. Are you disappointed that you didn't get to ride the motorcycle? Oh, I got over that pretty quickly. I was fine. What was it like working on the big Zion scene? It was great. You know, we had all those extras there, like 1500 people or something, in this huge building. It was actually kind of like being in a theater. Did that just pump you up, to have that kind of audience? Yeah. It's wonderful to have a real audience. v Tell us a little more about working with all the special effects, most notably with the chase scene. It was long - it took about 45 days to shoot the entire freeway sequence. And there were a lot of different elements to it, because it starts in the garage, comes out into the street, then through the fence, onto the freeway, then all over the place on the freeway. Before we started it, I told (Supervising Stunt Coordinator) R.A. Rondell that I was scared, and he said, "I know. I'm gonna take care of you." So he sent Carrie-Ann, myself and the Rayment twins all out to driving school and we spent a day out there learning how to do 180s and 90s and 45 degree angles and skids and all of that stuff. Let me tell you something - Carrie-Ann can really get down. She can really do it. On the first day that we went out on the freeway, I was really, really nervous, because it was the first day we were going to be actually in the cars. But then I looked around and I saw (Stunt Players) Henry Kingi and Buddy-Joe Hooker and a bunch of other stunt guys that I've worked with before, some of the best drivers in the business, and I was ok. Can you talk specifically about your work on top of the truck? The truck-top stuff was really tricky because Daniel and I had to work on a platform that was actually moving. Daniel has a lot of experience with fighting in the movies - more than I do. It's really a brutal kind of fight - it's these two big men fighting. It was nice because any time we were urged to hit harder or with more power, Daniel would lean in and whisper to me, "It's ok. I'm not going to hurt you."
What's the big difference between this film and the last one, in your opinion? This one's bigger. In what way? In every way. It's just more stuff. How does this compare to APOCALYPSE NOW, in terms of the ordeal? APOCALYPSE was harder. We were in the southern hemisphere, living in the jungle, in a country under martial law. It wasn't Sydney, you know. When you got the script for this film, which is so ambitious, were you shocked that they planned to push things as far as they did? No, I think it's exciting. The Wachowskis described the themes of the trilogy to me in this way: the first movie is about birth, the second is about life and the third movie is about death. So, in life, anything is possible. Were you able to distinguish between two and three? It's all one movie. You have to think of it as one movie. What do you think about the philosophies contained in the movie? I don't think very much about them. I'm not a philosopher. I don't pretend to be a philosopher. I'm not a student of philosophy. So, you just pretty much took it on faith that the brothers knew what they were doing? Of course. That's really what I operate from is a place of faith, a place of intuitiveness.
Since it looks like much of REVOLUTIONS will take place in the real world, will the fights may be as kinetic as the are in the MATRIX? Oh, there's fighting. What kind of stuff do you get to do? I get to do some pretty cool stuff. I have a gun fight. Why was the fighting so important in this movie? It's a big part of the first MATRIX, but it's a huge part of RELOADED. I think it's part of the audience's expectations that the brothers have to absolutely fulfill. When you do a picture like this, does it change how you approach your next choices? Are you more inspired to write and direct after working on these films? Well, I've been wanting to write and direct for a while, and I did it after the first MATRIX. It's just a natural progression for me in terms of who I am as an artist and as a human being. How would you describe the Wachowskis work style? That's a good question. You'll have to get back to me. Though the films focus primarily on Neo's character arch, Morpheus has an arch of his own. It's interesting for me because when we were doing the first movie, the Wachowskis kept saying "Morpheus is crazy. Morpheus is crazy." And I kept going, "No, he is not. There's nothing crazy about him." Because if you're playing someone who's crazy, you can't play 'em like they're crazy. That's boring. But in this movie, when the whole freeway sequence happens, that's when I was like, "Oh, I see." You get to see how crazy he is. He's really out of his mind. But, he's so committed to whatever this thing is, he'll make you crazy before you make him sane.
Can you talk a little more about working with the special effects? How did it differ this time as opposed to the first film? This movie is a lot more effects-heavy than the first film. Some of the things they've done are really exciting. Really exciting. The fight with Keanu and Hugo is just nuts. Did you watch any of the filming of that scene? I stayed away from that fight. It was too hot in there for me. The lighting they had in there was nuts. It was one of those really tedious things. And Keanu is really hard on himself. I don't like being around Keanu when he's being so hard on himself. Are you hard on yourself? No. Were you harder on yourself before? Yes, I used to be really hard on myself, but not as hard as Keanu is. I was never that hard on myself. Are the Wachowskis very demanding directors? No. Can you share with us anything about Keanu? Not a fucking thing. I've known the man for five years, all I can tell you that I know for certain is that I love that motherfucker. But I don't know a thing about him. I'm telling you the truth. That motherfucker's like nobody else on the planet. That's why he's the One. What's your favorite aspect of the MATRIX, if you could boil it down? For me it's all about the fact that there's one world that's the real world, and there's another that exists in your brain and that means that anything is possible. That, to me, is brilliant. The possibilities are endless. Did the hardships that surrounded the film, with Aaliyah's death and 9/11, do you think they helped bring the cast together? Yeah, I think it makes the film a lot deeper. That kind of stuff resonated for us. When you lose life, it always gives you pause and makes you start to reflect on how precious life is.