The Matrix set a precedent for Hollywood actors training in martial arts. After Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne did it, Matt Damon trained for The Bourne Identity, the Charlie’s Angels did it, Uma Thurman did it for Kill Bill, and more. The leads of The Matrix built on their physiques. Some of their costars needed a little more help.
The book Best. Movie. Year. Ever: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen obviously includes a chapter on The Matrix. Author Brian Raftery interviewed the cast of The Matrix and found out one actor asked Warner Bros. to pay for his cosmetic surgery, and they never did.
‘The Matrix’ training involved several injuries
The Matrix was Moss’s big breakthrough. Her bullet time flying kick was in every trailer and the film put her on the Hollywood A-list. Even her audition involved intense training to be sure she was up for the challenge.
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“I couldn’t walk for days,” Moss told Raftery. “I remember thinking, ‘They don’t really think I’m gonna do this stuff, like jumping from one building to another. Of course I’m not going to do that!”
Hugo Weaving would injure his femur and walk on crutches for much of preproduction. You’d never know from his intimidating performance as Agent Smith.
“After the first day, I was so shattered and shocked,” Weaving said. “I realized I was so unfit.”
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Reeves damaged his spine in the ‘90s. According to Raftery, Reeves had surgery before filming, wore a neck brace, and couldn’t kick for months. Until he could train his feet, Reeves prepared by stretching and watching Kung Fu movies.
Training for ‘The Matrix’ wasn’t enough for Joe Pantoliano
Joe Pantoliano played Cypher, the crew member who’d rather go back to the blue pill world of the matrix. Still, he had to fit in the tight black leather outfits and look like he’d been starving in the real world. There was only so much working out he could do.
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“They wanted me to be in the best shape of my life,” Pantoliano told Raftery. “No drinking, eating steamed vegetables, working out at a gym. I’m a f—— character actor! This trainer they hired said to me, ‘You can do 3000 situps a day, but that ain’t going nowhere.’ So I talk to my buddy, a plastic surgeon, and decide I’m going to get an $8,0000 liposuction procedure.”
Warner Brothers still owes Joe Pantoliano money
Pantoliano opted for cosmetic surgery. He’d worked with Warner Brothers on films like Risky Business, The Fugitive, The Goonies, and U.S. Marshalls, but they didn’t return his calls on the medical bill.
“Pantoliano sent the bill for the surgery to the studio, claiming the liposuction counted as ‘research and development,’” Raftery wrote. “(He says he was never reimbursed.)”
Justice for Joey! Pay the man’s medical bill!