Shortly after Warner Bros. premiered the official trailer for Lana Wachowski’s “The Matrix Resurrections,” cast member Yahya Abdul-Mateen II confirmed the long-standing rumor that he is playing Morpheus in the fourth installment of the iconic action franchise. The trailer all but confirmed the role as Abdul-Mateen II is seen sporting the glasses made famous by Laurence Fishburne in the original “Matrix” trilogy. Abdul-Mateen II’s Morpheus offers Neo (Keanu Reeves) a red pill or a blue pill, just as Fishburne’s Morpheus did. And there’s even one scene in a dojo where Abdul-Mateen II and Reeves fight, mirroring an identical sequence between Fishburne and Reeves.
Both the trailer and Abdul-Mateen II’s Morpheus confirmation stirred up “The Matrix” fandom, with many asking why Fishburne is absent from “Resurrections.” The new film brings Reeves and original co-star Carrie-Anne Moss back to their iconic roles of Neo and Trinity, so why not Fishburne? In a new interview with British GQ, Abdul-Mateen II hinted there’s a difference between playing a character called Morpheus and playing a character who actually is Fishburne’s iteration of Morpheus. In other words, just because Abdul-Mateen II is playing a character named Morpheus doesn’t mean it’s the Morpheus fans know and love.
As reported by British GQ: “‘The character’s called Morpheus,’ [Abdul-Mateen II] corrects me, fast. There is some consternation online about why Laurence Fishburne, the original Morpheus, is not playing the character called Morpheus, given Keanu Reeves is back as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. Has he spoken to Fishburne? ‘By the time this interview comes out, I would have. I want to.’ It should be pointed out that Fishburne has not only been very gracious in the build-up to this fourth film, but also that, if you go by strict ‘Matrix’ folklore, namely a video game called ‘The Matrix Online,’ Morpheus is actually dead. ‘It will make sense when it comes out,’ says Abdul-Mateen, who is playing Morpheus but is not Morpheus.”
Abdul-Mateen II also told British GQ that “The Matrix” was not a formative movie for him growing up because “I was never a big fan of movies.” The select films the actor did admire he watched obsessively, such as “Training Day,” “Tropic Thunder,” “Whiplash,” “Amadeus.” He added, “I was aware [of ‘The Matrix], but it wasn’t something I watched 10 or 15 times. I’ve never had an argument about ‘The Matrix!’”
“The Matrix Resurrections” opens December 22 in theaters and on HBO Max.