From disturbingly shiny sunglasses to difficult costuming, EW Online looks at the trials of making a sci-fi hit

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
April 08, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Jasin Boland
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”The Matrix” is getting attention for its never-before-seen effects, but during the production of the movie, the crew realized that such a high-tech set could become a high-tech nightmare. True, the characters look ultrahip as they travel through the Matrix in their sunglasses; but cinematographer Bill Pope quickly discovered that the super-shiny lenses created a major headache: They reflected the entire crew. ”We had to dress everyone in white, wrapped in muslin sheets” to kill the reflection, Pope tells EW Online. ”Or when it was a dark setting, everyone had to wear black.”

Also struggling was costume designer Kim Barrett, who saw that the green screen’s glow reflected off every fabric she tried. (A green screen is a special backdrop used behind actors while shooting scenes that will later have special effects added.) Barrett ended up inventing a material — whose secret design she hopes to patent — and then ordering hundreds of yards of it, since every actor needed each costume in three different sizes. ”They were on these really strict diets but always different ones,” she explains. ”Sometimes they were really physical (for the fight scenes) in a muscular way, and other times, they’d have to be on a strict diet where they got long and thin. We were always fluctuating between body types. ”

Not only did Barrett and her team have to allow for green screens and cast weight changes, but also for the numerous rigs and wires that would be attached to the actors for action scenes. ”We would construct harnesses and corsets that fit under everything, and then there would be wire that would have to go through the clothes. It was all trial and error — we never got it right the first time.” What, you thought making a hit movie is easy?

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