Jada Pinkett Smith's Niobe went through 'a couple different versions' for The Matrix Resurrections
Jada Pinkett Smith knew she had to be a part of The Matrix Resurrections, especially for what it meant to director Lana Wachowski. The filmmaker, returning without her sister Lilly to helm the new sequel solo, previously spoke about grieving the loss of her parents by returning to characters like Neo and Trinity.
"I love The Matrix and I love the story and I love what it offers to the world, but sometimes you show up for people to be part of the journey," Smith tells EW. "For Lana, I wanted to show up in that way." It was just a matter of how she would show up.
Smith's Niobe first debuted in 2003's The Matrix Reloaded before returning for the sequel, The Matrix Revolutions, on screen later that year. The actress, 50, says she and Wachowski "went through a couple different versions of Niobe" before they settled on bringing the elder version of the character to the fourth movie, hitting theaters and streaming 18 years later.
"It's so easy to forget how much noise the Matrix pumps into your head," Niobe says. "Something else makes the same kind of noise: war."
Smith was surprised to receive the phone call from Wachowski about making another movie, especially after the filmmaker and her sibling declined numerous offers in the past two decades to do so.
"We had a beautiful conversation where she went into great detail about her personal journey [with the story]," Smith says. "I was so touched and so moved by why this world opened up for her again."
"It never was interesting to me as an idea to continue it," Wachowski said during a panel at the Berlin International Literature Festival earlier this year. "Then something really hard happened: Both my parents got ill. My dad first got ill, and my wife and I went home to take care of them, and we were really close to them. And also a good friend died in this very short period… It was just this constant grief. My dad died, then this friend died, then my mom died. I didn't really know how to process that kind of grief. I hadn't experienced it that closely."
"I couldn't have my mom and dad… yet suddenly I had Neo and Trinity, arguably the two most important characters in my life," she added.
It did take a second for Smith to wrap her head around the concept of Resurrections: Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), who had died during the events of the original trilogy, find themselves back in the Matrix, the simulation projected into the minds of humans by machines far in the future to hide an apocalyptic reality. But they seemingly have no memory of their past life together. In comes a hacker named Bugs (Jessica Henwick) and a different version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) to wake Neo back up.
"The concepts are always really deeply layered," Smith says. "So, the thing about when you're reading a script, you will get a layer or two, but then once I see the complete movie and I have visuals — because I am a very visual person — I'm sure I'm going to see all of the hundreds of layers that I wasn't able to actually grasp reading the script."
That, she remarks, is where trust comes in her director. "You're like, 'I don't quite understand what that is or what that looks like, but I know that'll come."
The Matrix Resurrections opens in theaters and premieres on HBO Max tomorrow.
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