As filming begins, we tell you what's true -- and what isn't -- about Keanu's next movie

By Ethan Alter
Updated March 07, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Keanu Reeves: Armando Gallo/Retna

The Matrix Reloaded

  • Movie

After months of speculation, production on the two sequels to 1999’s $171 million grossing ”The Matrix” is finally getting under way. ”Filming starts late in March in Oakland,” says star Keanu Reeves, who’ll reprise his role as hacker messiah Neo. ”I’ve read both scripts and they’re fantastic.”

Unfortunately for ”Matrix” fans, few besides Reeves and the directing duo of Andy and Larry Wachowski know what the sequels (which will be filmed back to back) are about — and they’re not telling. Some details ARE known, however, like the fact that original cast members Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) and Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus) will return. And the Internet is rife with daily rumors about the films. Trinity gets kidnapped? Neo meets a challenger as powerful as he is? We finally see Zion, the computer free promised land alluded to in the first movie? cuts through the gossip to offer you the truth (well, at least some of it) behind these highly anticipated films.

WHO’S IN IT In addition to Reeves, Fishburne, and Moss, Hugo Weaving — who played the villainous, supercomputer-generated Agent Smith — is also scheduled to return, even though his character appeared to die at the end of the first ”Matrix.”

New faces will include Jada Pinkett Smith, playing a love interest for Morpheus named Niobi; R&B singer Aaliyah as Zee, who’ll be introduced in the first sequel and go on to play a larger role in ”Matrix” 3; and buxom Italian beauty Monica Bellucci (“Malena”).

WHO’S NOT The biggest ”Matrix” casting story is about the ones who got away. Last April, Hong Kong martial arts superstar Jet Li, fresh off the success of ”Romeo Must Die” (which costarred Aaliyah), reportedly became interested in the ”Matrix” follow ups, much to the delight of the Wachowski brothers. But Variety reported in December that after months of negotiations Li turned down the project, most likely due to disputes over his paycheck.

According to Variety, the part was then offered to Malaysian born martial arts star Michelle Yeoh (”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”). She declined the role to pursue projects in Asia. Since then, there have been no official announcements about other contenders for that part.

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The Matrix Reloaded

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  • 138 minutes