This article contains spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections
The Matrix Resurrections is continuing to divide opinion one week on from its release. Some see it as a fun bit of metafictional commentary on studio-mandated sequels, some dismiss it as a director lazily going through the motions on a project they don’t want to do, and some see it as a nostalgia trip to the past.
But there’s one aspect that was something of a let-down no matter what you think of the movie. One of the best things about the original trilogy was Hugo Weaving’s villainous Agent Smith, who was a brilliant nemesis for Neo and key to resolving the machine/human war. Smith is in Resurrections, though he’s now played by Jonathan Groff.
Groth isn’t necessarily bad, but I didn’t see many similarities between him and Weaving, and the film would have been much better with him returning to the role. Sadly, it seems they asked and Weaving wasn’t interested. In an interview with co-writer Aleksandar Hemon, he discussed how they approached ‘Smith’.
After confirming that they wrote the character with Weaving in mind, Hemon explained they had to rethink when he said no:
“There were preliminary talks [with Weaving] and so we were not involved in them with people, but it was not entirely resolved Because the premise of The Matrix and this movie is somewhat different, Agent Smith would have been different in some ways, no matter who played it. And Jonathan Groff is amazing in that role. He added a dimension that I could not foresee while we were writing. But there’s an increased emotional emotionality in the movie and then he fits into that pattern.”
It’s anyone’s guess why Weaving didn’t come back. Perhaps it was a scheduling conflict, maybe the brewing COVID pandemic as production began gave him cold feet about traveling, at 61 he may have wanted to avoid the intense physical training for the part, or he just read the script and didn’t think it was very good.
Still, at least Weaving is in the movie, if only via archive footage from the original trilogy. The future of The Matrix franchise remains to be seen, though wherever it goes from here I suspect Weaving won’t be coming along. By the end of Resurrections, Smith’s status is unknown, so if there’s a sequel expect Groff to reprise the role.
The Matrix Resurrections is now in theaters.