When Belinda McClory auditioned for the role of "Switch", she was only going for half the role. The character was originally planned to be played by androgynous actors. In the real world, it would be played by a male actor and in the Matrix be represented in a female form, hence the name "Switch". Warner Brothers refined the idea and McClory ended up getting a single female role in both environments.
The Wachowskis approached Warner with the idea of the Matrix and Warner balked at the budget they had submitted, which was over $80 million. Warner instead agreed to give them $10 million. The Wachowskis took the money and filmed the first ten minutes of the movie (the opening scene with Carrie-Anne Moss) using the entire $10 million. They then showed the executives at Warner the opening scene. They were impressed, and green-lit the original asking budget.
All scenes that take place within the Matrix have a green tint, as if watching them through a computer monitor, while scenes in the real world have normal coloring. The fight scene between Morpheus and Neo, which is neither in the real world nor in the Matrix, is tinted yellow.
For Keanu Reeves's scenes set in the real world at the start of the film, his costumes were deliberately shabby and ill-fitting to suggest Thomas Anderson's feeling of not quite fitting into the world.
In the combat training program before Keanu Reeves starts his furious attacks on Morpheus, he rubs his nose with his thumb and finger, a similar mannerism of Bruce Lee before he attacks on his opponents. The move was improvised by Reeves.
Woo-ping Yuen initially refused to work on The Matrix and hoped that by asking for an exorbitant fee, it would turn off the Wachowskis. It didn't. He next formulated what he considered an impossible request. He said that he'd agree only if he had complete control of the fights and that he trained the actors for four months before they shoot. The Wachowskis complied with his request.
Will Smith was approached to play Neo, but turned down the offer in order to star in Wild Wild West (1999). He later admitted that, at the time, he was "not mature enough as an actor" and that, if given the role, he "would have messed it up".
Some personal information can be seen on Thomas Anderson's "criminal record" that Agent Smith glances at when he interrogates Neo: The last update to the file was July 22, 1998 Neo's date of birth is "March 11, 1962" Neo's place of birth is "Lower Downtown, Capitol City" Neo's mother's maiden name is "Michelle McCahey" Neo's father's name is "John Anderson" Neo attended "Central West Junior High" and "Owen Paterson High" (named after the film's production designer). Seconds later a photocopy of his passport can be seen. There the place of his birth is CAPITAL CITY USA, his date of birth is the 13th of September 1971, the passport was issued on the 12th of September 1991 and will expire on the 11th of September 2001.
The date stamp on the phone trace program in the opening sequence reads "2/18/98". The date stamp on the phone trace program in the closing sequence reads "9/18/99". This means that the events in the movie take place over exactly 19 months.
The name of the company Neo works for is Metacortex. The roots of this word are meta-, which according to Webster's means "going beyond or higher, transcending," and -cortex, which is "the outer layer (boundary) of gray matter surrounding the brain." Thus, Metacortex is "transcending the boundaries of the brain," which is precisely what Neo proceeds to do.
When Neo gets in the car with Trinity for the first time, Switch refers to him as "coppertop". Coppertop is a slang for the Duracell Battery, which is the battery Morpheus shows to Neo as he explains how the human race became an energy sources.
The filming of the helicopter scene nearly caused the film to be shutdown because they flew the helicopter through restricted Sydney airspace. Laws in the state of New South Wales in Australia were changed to allow the film The Matrix (1999) to proceed.
The iconic sunglasses worn by the Matrix characters are from the cult-ish label Blinde, which prides itself on producing handmade glasses. The company's founder, 'Richard Walker' (IV), had to tender against large companies such as Ray-Ban and Arnette to win the film's sunglasses contract, and set himself apart by scratch-designing pairs of glasses based purely on the characters' unusual names. When his tender was successful, Walker was flown into Sydney where he spent the duration of the Matrix shoot custom-designing sunglasses for the cast in the back of an Oxford Street optometrist.
According to costume designer Kym Barrett, Trinity's costume was made with cheap PVC because of much tighter budget. Similarly, Neo's coat wasn't actually a very expensive fabric. It was a wool blend got for three dollars a yard.
The name of Morpheus' ship, the Nebuchadnezzar, is a Biblical reference to King Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon, from the biblical Book of Daniel. King Nebuchadnezzar ('the Great') was famous for his conquests of Israel in Biblical times (specifically Judah and Jerusalem). He also built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (one of the lost Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) for his wife. He has a dream he can't remember but keeps searching for an answer, in Daniel 2:1-49.
Before filming, the principal actors spent four months with martial arts experts learning the fight moves, from October 1997 to March 1998. The actors had originally thought that it would take just a few weeks.
According to weapon provider John Bowring, guns for Keanu Reeves in the lobby sequence and the elevator sequence, were actually plastic lightweight weapons. They made a very faithful cast of MP5K, which weighs about 150-200 grams, so that Keanu could carry them quite easily without worrying about the weight. Heavy versions of the same thing were also made, if they were to fall on the floor.
Numerous sets of identical twins were cast as extras in the "Woman in Red" scene - in which Morpheus takes Neo through a computer simulation of The Matrix - to create the illusion of a repeating program. Example: the tall man with slicked-back hair and sunglasses in the opening shot is seen seconds later as a police officer writing a parking ticket.
In the early stages of developing what was to become the famous Bullet Time sequence, visual effects supervisor John Gaeta and director of photography Bill Pope constructed many gimbals and dollies in the hope of creating the effect the old fashioned way. The original dolly they created for the camera would be lead around the action at a tremendous speed, but after many failed tests and broken dollies, they opted for computer graphics, which meant writing an entirely new program for the effect. However, the Bullet Time sequence does still use one very old fashioned technique: still photography.
Shot almost entirely in Sydney, Australia, the location scouts found it very difficult to find burned-out, American-ghetto-looking locations. Many of the urban-decay locations had to be created from scratch.
When Tank is uploading the Martial Arts training to Neo, there is a shot of the computer screen as it scrolls through the various Martial Arts styles. The graphics have a computer image of a person and the title of the style below. The fifth one on the screen is entitled "Drunken Boxing". Woo-ping Yuen, the fight choreographer for this movie, was director and fight choreographer for Jackie Chan's early hit, Drunken Master (1978) in which Jackie Chan's character masters the style of Zui Chuan, or Drunken Boxing. Some of the other Martial Arts fighting styles being downloaded are Ju Jitsu, Savate, Kempo, Tae Kwon Do, and, of course, Kung Fu.
The key of the beginning theme you hear at the beginning of every Matrix movie (rousing strings and horn blasts) ascends by one semitone with each movie. The Matrix (1999) starts in the key of E, The Matrix Reloaded (2003) in F and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) in the key of F-sharp.
On the first day of shooting, Hugo Weaving suffered an injury to his leg. It was revealed to be a polyp that had to be surgically removed. For a while, there was a suggestion that the actor would have to be recast, but, by shifting the schedule around so that all of his stuntwork would take place at the end of shooting, Weaving was able to take the part.
According to Don Davis, Johnny Depp was Lana and Andy's first choice for Neo, but Warner Bros. wanted Brad Pitt or Val Kilmer. After Kilmer and Brad Pitt said no, Warner Bros. was willing to consider Johnny Depp, and then it came between Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves, who Warner Bros. was pushing. Keanu was always really tuned in to the concept and made a big difference in the casting.
All of the references to street corners (e.g. Wells and Lake) are real intersections in Chicago, USA, The Wachowskis' hometown. The subway train has signs for "Loop," another Chicago reference. The film however is quite obviously not set in Chicago or any other real city (though it was filmed in Sydney).
When Lana and Andy Wachowski's screenplay for Assassins (1995) was being made for producer Joel Silver, The Wachowskis brought Silver the script to "The Matrix". The producer was bowled over by their screenplay but not by The Wachowskis' insistence that they direct the film themselves. He told them to cut their teeth by directing something else instead, which is why they made Bound (1996). The success of that lesbian crime thriller proved to be the calling card that The Wachowskis needed to earn the trust from Warner Brothers to direct "The Matrix" themselves.
The idea for the movie was created when The Wachowskis were thinking for some new story for a comic book series. They wrote the entire script before their first directorial venture Bound (1996), and worked on it up until the time of production.
When Mouse is cornered by the SWAT team during the raid, the guns he pulls out are a pair of cam-operated, electrically-driven 12-gauge automatic shotguns with 25-round drum magazines, capable of firing at 900 RPM. They were built specially for the movie by John Bowring, the film's key armorer.
The film pays a huge homage to Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland", although there are also references to Karl Marx, Franz Kafka, Zen and Homer's Odyssey. One of the main featured works of literature is "Simulcra and Simulation" by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillaud. The book can be seen lying open in Neo's apartment and was required reading for all the principal cast and crew.
According to the inscription on the Nebuchadnezzar's core, the ship was "Made in the USA" in the year 2069. It also states that it is a "Mark III, No. 11" model, which is a possible reference to Mark 3:11, which reads "And whenever those possessed by evil spirits caught sight of him, they would fall down in front of him shrieking, 'You are the Son of God!'"
The book Neo hides his computer discs in is called "Simulacra and Simulation" a treatise by Jean Baudrillard that explores the postmodern concept of simulation and hyperreality. The chapter where they're hidden is called "On Nihilism". Nihilism often involves a sense of despair coupled with the belief that life is devoid of meaning.
According to costumer Gloria Bava, Neo's original coat was silver gray leather. It was changed because the directors wanted something that was able to billow and float. There is a reference in the script to "liquid sky"; a coat that would liquefy with the surroundings and billowy. Even putting a wind machine under the coat didn't move because leather was too heavy. Costumers finally changed the fabric.
For the "Ultimate Matrix Collection" DVD re-release, the film was given a totally new, clean DVD transfer to replace the grainy one that had been on DVD since 1999, and give it the clear, sleek look of the sequels, which had not been seen since the theatrical release.
By filming in Australia, the film-makers kept the final budget at $60 million. The movie would not have been green-lit by Warner Bros. otherwise because it would have cost a then-record $180 million for a U.S.-based production.
The room Neo/Thomas Anderson is in at the beginning of the film is number 101 - a tribute to George Orwell's Room 101 in 1984, where a prisoner is subjected to their worst phobia, and has subsequently been used in popular culture to signify a room where an item can be placed to never be again found. Neo has in turn been placed in room 101 by the machines, as they do not want 'The One' to be discovered.
When Morpheus is explaining "What the Matrix is" to Neo, he uses the phrase, "Welcome, to the desert of the real." This is a paraphrase from Jean Baudrillard's "Simulacra and Simulation", the hollowed-out book where Neo keeps his illegal software. The quote can be found in Chapter One - The Precession of Simulacra, Page one, Paragraph 2, "It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself." NB: The American title of Baudrillard's book is Simulations. It was published by Semiotext(e) in 1983.
Given that Trinity's phone call at the beginning was timed at 13:24:18 on 19th Feb 2198 and neo's call at the end of the movie was timed at 14:32:21 on 18th September 2199 - this indicates that the events of the movie took place over approx. 1 year 7 months.
According to Lana Wachowski, for the slow-mo bullet ripple effects, Sound Designer Dane A. Davis put bullets on strings and whirl them around his studio. Also he digitized raindrops against window panes to create the sound of the Matrix code.
When Neo is meeting with the Oracle, the music playing in the background in her apartment is Django Reinhardt's "Minor Swing". Following this tune can be heard Duke Ellington's "I'm Beginning to See the Light".
After Smith sends Neo flying backwards with a punch to the chest, Neo spews blood before getting back to his feet. Once he does, he taunts Smith in a fighting stance. The stance branches from the style Hapkido.
During the Trinity rooftop chase at the film's beginning, two distinctive city skylines are noticeable. Nashville, Tennessee's BellSouth Building and L & C Tower are visible behind the agents. San Francisco's TransAmerica and Coit Towers can be seen behind Trinity after she jumps past the Guns & Ammo billboard.
The first trace program gives a view of the City's area code, but the camera zooms in before it can be completely determined, leaving the phone number as (3?2) 555-0690. Three locations exist in the United States with similar codes: Chicago (312), Delaware (302), and the northwestern Florida peninsula (352). Since the original script indicates that the number is #312-555-0690 and there are numerous other references to Chicago in the film, we can assume that the area code is 312.
When Neo fights Morpheus in the construct, the three pieces of music that play on the score are termed the "Bow Whisk Orchestra" by composer Don Davis. It consists of a semi-improvisational piece with Asian instruments by Davis, the song "Leave You Far Behind" by Lunatic Calm, and another piece by Davis called "Switch or Break Show". Both "Bow Whisk Orchestra" and "Switch Or Break Show" are anagrams of "Wachowski Brothers". Also, when Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity return to the building after visiting the Oracle, the piece of music that plays is called "Threat Mix". Later, when in the same building Morpheus fights Agent Smith, the musical piece is called "Exit Mr. Hat". Both "Threat Mix" and "Exit Mr. Hat" are anagrams of "The Matrix".
The shot as Trinity tells Neo, "you know exactly where it ends", was filmed on Elizabeth Street (Sydney NSW Australia) looking north alongside CityRail's - Central to City Circle - train line from where Campbell Street also intersects with Wentworth Avenue. The white wooden scaffolding illuminated to left was actually there before filming. Shot at night, the rain was added by a firetruck. Local street signs were pulled out and remained uprooted street-side days after location filming had moved on.
The antique television Morpheus shows to Neo in the construct is an AWA (Amalgamated Wireless - Australasia) Radiola "Deep Image" Model 209C or very similar model, circa 1958. Its bottom speaker section with fabric grille is missing, probably removed by set design to create a cleaner appearance.
There are many who might legitimately claim to have invented the time-freezing photographic technique used in the movie. It might have been French director Michel Gondry who used it for the first time in a commercial (for an insurance company) and then in a video clip for Björk. It might have been architectural graphics artist Matthew Bannister who, in his academic work, suggested that motion and time in video could be separated, and proposed an apparatus for doing it much like that used for the film (but who was unable to make it work with then-available technology). Or even artist Tim MacMillan who demonstrated the technique on British television in 1993. It may be that each of them, and others, invented it independently.
Author Sophia Stewart had a case pending against the directors, producers, and studios behind the Matrix and Terminator movie series, claiming that they were all based on a 35 page screen play treatment she wrote in 1983 called The Third Eye. Although the case was rejected because of the litigant's failure to present evidence in a timely fashion, Stewart continues to discuss her version of events online. For example, the "John Connor" and "Neo" characters are (she claims) the same individual in her treatment.
After the lobby shootout, the camera pans back showing the aftermath of the gunfight in the lobby. During this a piece of one of the pillars falls off. This happened by coincidence during the filming and was not planned, but was left since it seemed appropriate.
Sets from the film Dark City (1998), including rooftops, buildings and others exteriors sets, were used in this film. The rooftops that Trinity runs across at the beginning of the film are the same ones that John Murdoch runs across in Dark City.