15 Mind-Bending Facts About The Matrix

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Prepare to enter The Matrix with these 15 little-known facts about the Wachowskis’ mind-bending 1999 film, which was released 20 years ago today.

1. The Matrix began as a comic book.

Filmmakers Lana and Lilly Wachowski originally conceived the storyline for The Matrix as a comic book. They had both previously written comic books for Marvel.

2. The unnamed city you see in The Matrix is Sydney, Australia.

The production shot the entire film—both interior sets and exteriors—in Australia for tax purposes, significantly lowering the film’s budget. However, all the street names are taken from locations in Chicago, where the Wachowskis grew up.

3. The studio didn’t want the Wachowskis to direct.

Warner Brothers originally thought the Wachowskis, who had no directorial experience, were unqualified to direct The Matrix. To prove their mettle, the Wachowskis wrote and directed the crime thriller Bound, which became a modest hit. And convinced the studio that they knew what they were doing.

4. Martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping created the film’s elaborate stunts and wirework.

The Wachowskis specifically enlisted Yuen Woo-ping’s talents because they loved his work on the 1994 Hong Kong martial arts film Fist of Legend.

5. Both Will Smith and Nicolas Cage formally turned down the role of Neo.

Keanu Reeves in 'The Matrix' (1999)
Warner Home Video

Will Smith said no so that he could make Wild Wild West. When asked by Newsweek if there were any roles he regretted turning down, Nicolas Cage replied that, "I don't really have any regrets. I think regret is a waste of time." Yet he allowed that there "were movies that I probably would have benefited from if circumstances in my life allowed me to make them," and cited both The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings. Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Leonardo DiCaprio were all also reportedly considered before the filmmakers settled on Keanu Reeves for the part.

6. Russell Crowe, Sean Connery, and Samuel L. Jackson could’ve been Morpheus.

For Sean Connery, it was apparently a matter of not understanding the script (which was also the reason he turned down The Lord of the Rings). When they declined, Laurence Fishburne took the role.

7. The actors were asked to brush up on their knowledge of philosophy before production began.

The Wachowskis had all the lead actors read Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard, Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, and Introducing Evolutionary Psychology by Dylan Evans and Oscar Zarate in order to better understand the world of the movie. In the film, Neo actually hides his illegal computer files in a copy of Baudrillard’s book.

8. The movie is color-coded.

Every scene that takes place within the computer world of the Matrix was given a green tint, while all the scenes that take place within the real world have a blue tint. In fact, the only time the color green appears in the real world-set scenes is in the Matrix code on the ship’s computer screen.

9. Hugo Weaving didn’t have to look far for inspiration for his character.

Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving in The Matrix (1999)
Warner Home Video

He modeled Agent Smith’s voice after the Wachowskis themselves.

10. The lead actors trained every day for four months in order to pull off the fight scenes.

Just like the Hong Kong martial arts movies that influenced them, the Wachowskis wanted the actors—not stunt people—to be the ones fighting onscreen.

11. Keanu Reeves had cervical spine surgery prior to the training period that forced him to wear a neck brace throughout.

This rendered it impossible for Reeves to kick effectively, so Yuen Woo-ping had to adjust his choreography accordingly. In the finished film, Neo hardly kicks at all.

12. Hugo Weaving had to undergo hip surgery after being injured during fight training.

This completely shifted the shooting schedule, and Weaving’s fight scenes were completed at the end of the production in order to allow time for him to heal. All-in-all, it was a tough shoot for all the main actors. "Hugo had hip surgery. Carrie-Anne [hurt] her hip and ankle. Laurence got hit in the head. He got his eyelid sliced open ... I couldn't walk a couple of times," Reeves told The Guardian. "I mean, I'm exaggerating a bit, but there were a couple of sequences where I had to carry all these guns. It was about 50 pounds of weapons. And waiting for the special effects sequences, the bullet hits, etc.—there was one time where we stood for, like, three hours."

13. Neo and Trinity’s three-minute lobby shootout took 10 days to shoot.

No CGI was used—all of the explosions and gunfire were practical effects.

14. The sunglasses for each character were custom-designed by Blinde Design.

They weren’t available to purchase until the film’s sequels (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions) were released.

15. The iconic “Bullet Time” effect was conceived and created specially for The Matrix.

The famous swirling shot of Neo’s gravity-defying backbend was made using a rig that contained 120 individual digital still cameras and two film cameras. The still images were carefully stitched together to create the shot frame by frame. The first test shot of the Bullet Time effect gave a nearly 360-degree view of an exploding trash can.

An earlier version of this article ran in 2015.

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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David Lynch Is Sharing How He's Keeping Busy at Home in New YouTube Series

Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images
Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images

David Lynch, the director of some of the most surreal movies from recent decades, enjoys a relaxing home improvement project as much as the rest of us. As Pitchfork reports, Lynch has launched a new video series on YouTube sharing the various ways he's staying busy at home.

The series, titled "What Is David Working on Today?", debuted with its first installment on Tuesday, May 28. In it, the filmmaker tells viewers he's replacing the drain in his sink and varnishing a wooden stand. In addition to providing a peek into his home life, Lynch also drops some thought-provoking tidbits, like "water is weird."

Fixing the furniture in his home isn't the only thing Lynch has been up to during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also wrote, directed, and animated a 10-minute short titled Pożar, and since early May, he has been uploading daily weather reports. If life in quarantine doesn't already feel like a David Lynch film, diving into the director's YouTube channel may change that.

This isn't Lynch's first time creating uncharacteristically ordinary content. Even after gaining success in the industry, he directed commercials for everything from pasta to pregnancy tests.

[h/t Pitchfork]