The Matrix Resurrections was released in Australian cinemas on Boxing Day, but the highly awaited film is missing one of the creative mavericks who created the iconic franchise.
Pioneering out trans filmmakers Lilly Wachowski and sister Lana Wachowski wrote and directed the first three Matrix films, but Lilly has not returned to the film series which made her a household name.
Lilly spoke of her choice not to return during an appearance at Television Critics Association Summer Tour virtual panel, where she was promoting the second season of her Showtime series, Work in Progress.
Exhaustion and Grief Left Lilly Looking for Change
— Lilly Wachowski (@lilly_wachowski) May 30, 2021
“I got out of my transition [in 2016] and was just completely exhausted because we had made Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, and the first season of Sense8 back-to-back-to-back. We were posting one, and prepping the other at the exact same time. So you’re talking about three 100-plus days of shooting for each project, and so, coming out and just being completely exhausted, my world was like, falling apart to some extent even while I was like, you know, cracking out of my egg. So I needed this time away from this industry. I needed to reconnect with myself as an artist and I did that by going back to school and painting and stuff.”
“[Lana] had come up with this idea for another Matrix movie, and we had this talk, and it was actually — we started talking about it in between [our] dad dying and [our] mom dying, which was like five weeks apart, and there was something about the idea of going backward and being a part of something that I had done before that was expressly unappealing.”
Matrix Films Made Wachowski Sisters World Famous
The first Matrix, released in 1999, became a massive hit and pop culture phenomenon, grossing over $463 million at the box office. The following two sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both released in 2003, grossed $741 million and $427 million respectively.
The franchise made the sister act one of Hollywood’s most valuable and visionary creative teams.
“I didn’t want to have gone through my transition and gone through this massive upheaval in my life, the sense of loss from my mom and dad, to want to go back to something that I had done before, and sort of [walk] over old paths that I had walked in, felt emotionally unfulfilling, and really the opposite — like I was going to go back and live in these old shoes, in a way. And I didn’t want to do that,” Lilly said.
“And it felt like a new thing that I could go do and be myself in, more than go back and do the same thing that I sort of did before. And so, like Lana made [Matrix 4] for different reasons… I can’t speak for her, but that’s what I was feeling at the time.”
When asked whether the sisters would collaborate on future projects, Lilly remained noncommittal. ”Who knows? Who knows? Maybe,” she told reporters.
Lana Talks Of Her Sister’s Absence From The Film
rereading Lana Wachowski's reason for making Matrix Resurrections and tearing up all over again pic.twitter.com/sul7JvNNBr
— Brandon (@Thatoneguy64) December 23, 2021
Lana Wachowski, who appeared as a panelist at the Art of Scriptwriting at the Berlin International Literature Festival in September, spoke of Lilly’s absence from the production as well as her own reason for returning to the films which made her famous.
“When mom and dad passed, I went to [Lilly] and said, ‘Look, this idea came to me. I can see that it’s about me working with my grief, and I was thinking, do you want to work on it together?’ I thought maybe it would be cool that we go back, and we go back together and this thing that where we started. And she said, ‘I get it, I know, I see, I feel it, but this is not what I want to do,’” Lana Wachowski told The Hollywood Reporter at the premiere of The Matrix Resurrections, which was held at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre.
“‘I need to do it my own way.’ That’s what grief does. Grief spirals us off in different directions, and you can see that there’s a lot of Mom and Dad in Work in Progress. She’s doing something similar, but not the same. I wanted to go back and feel this thing again, and she wanted to go off and do this other thing.”
Lilly Creatively Charged by Work on New Queer Series
In an in-depth interview with them, Lilly Wachowski was effusive about her new project, Work in Progress, now entering into its second season on Showtime. Lilly is the executive producer, writer and show-runner on the series.
“There was something about the material that spoke to me as a freshly out-of-the-hopper trans woman actively involved in attacking binary structures. Being able to focus on myself as an individual, as a queer individual, as a trans individual, on Work in Progress has been super fulfilling,” Lilly said.
“For queer folks, there’s something to the idea of being seen and being able to come together in groups that’s so validating. As a trans person, when I stick my head up from the ground and see another trans person, that connection is super important.”
Work in Progress “is queer as fuck,” Lilly told Vox. “Queer and trans as fuck. I think all the trans people that come up to me and say, ‘Oh my God, The Matrix! It unlocked so many things for me. Thank you so much.’ All those people will watch this show. They’re going to watch the show and they’re going to really like it. Because it’s sweet and it shows trans people and queer people in a very normalizing and loving way.”
‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Now In Cinemas
The Matrix Resurrections is currently in cinemas and reunites original cast members Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss as well as Jada Pinkett Smith, who returns as Niobe.
New cast members include Out actors Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris, as well as Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.
The film was released in US theatres and on HBO Max simultaneously on December 22 and has already grossed $69.8 million in international box office receipts.