The Matrix Resurrections stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity from the classic Matrix films. But they were just two thirds of a core trio of heroes in those earlier movies, and the third member of the group — Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus — was not in the film’s first trailer. Fishburne himself said last year that he hadn’t been invited to return for the film.

That decision makes a little more sense now that we know that Morpheus is in The Matrix Resurrections in a new form. Instead of Fishburne, the character is played by Watchmen and Candyman’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. This isn’t too much of a shock, as Abdul-Mateen’s appearance in the Matrix Resurrections trailer strongly resembled a young Fishburne. There was even a scene where he sparred in a karate dojo with Neo, a direct callback to the first Matrix movie.

Still, no one had confirmed that Abdul-Mateen was playing a young Morpheus until his new interview with Entertainment Weekly. There he revealed that the script for the film called for “a new Morpheus,” which is the character he plays. Here are more details he offered:

I play a character who's definitely aware of the history of the Matrix [and] the history of Morpheus.This character is on a journey of self-discovery. There's a lot in our story that's about growth, defining your own path. Morpheus isn't exempt from that.

Abdul-Mateen was understandably cautious about revealing too many specifics about how Fishburne’s Morpheus morphed into this new person. All he would say is it is “definitely a different iteration of the character.” But, hey, the movie is called The Matrix Resurrections. That doesn’t make sense if people in it aren’t resurrected — perhaps in new or slightly unfamiliar ways.

The Matrix Resurrections is directed by Lana Wachowski, one of the series’ two co-creators. (Lilly Wachowski did not return for this film.) Wachowski co-wrote the film with Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell, whose 2004 novel Cloud Atlas was adapted into a movie by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer in 2012. In addition to Reeves, Moss, and Abdul-Mateen II, the film stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff, Priyanka Chopra, and Christina Ricci. Additional confirmed returning cast members from the original Matrix trilogy include Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe and Lambert Wilson as the Merovingian.

The Matrix Resurrections opens in theaters and premieres on HBO Max on December 22, 2021.

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