Lilly Wachowski has confirmed a major long-standing theory about The Matrix.
In a recent interview with Netflix Film Club, Wachowski admitted that she and her sister Lana – who are both trans but weren’t out at the time of the film’s release – crafted the film with a trans narrative.
“I’m glad that it has gotten out that that was the original intention,” she said. “But the world wasn’t quite ready yet. The corporate level, the corporate world wasn’t quite ready for it yet.”
“I don’t know how present my transness was in the background of my brain as we were writing it. It all came from the same sort of fire that I’m talking about. Especially for me and Lana, we were existing in this space where the words didn’t exist, so we were always living in a world of imagination.”
She added: “We were always living in a world of imagination. That’s why I gravitated toward sci-fi and fantasy and played Dungeons and Dragons. It was all about creating worlds. It freed us up as filmmakers because we were able to imagine stuff at that time that you didn’t necessarily see onscreen.”
Lilly and Lana both came out as trans women in the years since the original trilogy’s release, which hit cinemas between 1999 and 2003.
The first film received widespread acclaim, winning four Academy Awards, and is often regarded as one of the greatest science-fiction films of all time. The sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, were massive successes at the box office but failed to replicate the critical reception of the original.
The series depicted a dystopian future in which all of humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality called The Matrix. Keanu Reeves led the franchise as Neo, a computer hacker who discovers the truth and leads an uprising against the intelligent machines harvesting the humans’ bioelectric power.
Several elements of the films have been pointed out by fans as representations of the trans experience, such as how Neo’s friends insist on calling him by his chosen name while authorities continue to use his birth name, Mr Anderson – similarly to how trans individuals are dead-named.
Lilly said the Matrix itself “was all about the desire for transformation, but it was all coming from a closeted point of view.”
She continued: “I love how meaningful those films are to trans people and the way that they come up to me and say, ‘These movies saved my life.’
“When you talk about transformation, specifically in the world of science fiction, which is just about imagination and world building and the idea of the seemingly impossible becoming possible, I think that’s why it speaks to them so much.”
Lilly also revealed that Switch, a character played by Belinda McClory in the first film, was originally supposed to be a man “in the real world” and then “a woman in the Matrix,” saying that’s where her and Lana’s “headspaces were”.
Last year, The Matrix 4 was confirmed with Lana back as director. Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Lambert Wilson will return as their iconic characters.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick, Priyanka Chopra, Jonathan Groff, Toby Onwumere, Max Riemelt, Eréndira Ibarra, Andrew Caldwell, Brian J. Smith, and Ellen Hollman have been cast in undisclosed roles.
“We could not be more excited to be re-entering ‘The Matrix’ with Lana,” said Toby Emmerich of Warner Bros. Picture Group. “Lana is a true visionary — a singular and original creative filmmaker — and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing and producing this new chapter.”