WHY HIM He wowed us as ”Oz”’s introspective inmate.

WHY NOW He’s a vital Link in ”The Matrix Revolutions.”

From a cross-dressing Mercutio in Baz Luhrmann’s ”Romeo + Juliet” to the wheelchair-bound voice of HBO’s ”Oz,” Perrineau has never shied away from an oddball role. Considering how many hats he’s donned during his 20-year climb into showbiz, it’s easy to see why. ”I was a bartender, a busboy, a messenger,” laughs the Brooklyn native. ”I even sold Time-Life Books for a day on the phone.” He broke in with such films as the 1996 Jack Nicholson caper ”Blood & Wine” and the 1997 Anthony Hopkins thriller ”The Edge” before becoming a Zion zealot in the ”Matrix” trilogy. Although Perrineau’s immediate plans are to enjoy the holidays with his wife and young daughter before headlining Suzan Lori-Parks’ play ”Topdog/Underdog” in L.A., he has a lofty long-term goal. ”If I could be racing bikes in five years, that would be great,” he says. ”I kinda wanna be the Jeff Gordon of motorcycle racing.” Either way, Perrineau’s already a pretty big wheel.