One of the biggest surprises for The Matrix Resurrections was not just that stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss would be reprising their roles for the film but that Laurence Fishburne would not, and in his stead Aquaman star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II would be playing Morpheus. This was bizarre not only because Neo and Trinity had died in the last movie, but also because Morpheus had not. Now that the movie has been released we know that there was a reason behind this recasting, Yahya’s Morpheus isn’t the real Morpheus, and as a result, he’s a little different than what fans might expect from the character that appeared in the original trilogy.
“Definitely playing a character and portraying Morpheus it was my job not to give a literal impersonation of Laurence Fishburne’s performance as Morpheus but to understand that history,” Yahya Abdul-Mateen II revealed to EW. “I was fortunate enough to play a character who was aware of the history of the Matrix but also growing into his own, he had sort of a growth and a rebirth to go through for his own self. To me I looked at that as an opportunity to create a character with some freedom and expression and to really find out what it was that I, as Morpheus, liked about myself and what I had to contribute to the world and what I had to say in this universe. That was something that I really enjoyed.”
Abdul-Mateen II went on to say that he intended to “pay homage to the performance that Laurence Fishburne presented” while adding something of his own too the character. He also revealed that on the page his character was never intended to be Morpheus proper, and as we know from the movie, he’s not (in short he’s a digital program based on Neo’s memories of Morpheus that believe he is Morpheus when he is not, more details here). Instead the script for Resurrections said he was “playing a guy who was aware of Moprheus and even a bit tongue-in-cheek for referencing how serious Morpheus was.
“It gave me sort of a guideline at times to go in the opposite direction of what that was,” Yahya added. “Like I referred to, he was discovering for the first time his own self, his own abilities, he’s existing in a world where he doesn’t have the same limitations that he had in a previous life. So he’s been reborn as this guy who is also named Morpheus and who has a very specific responsibility. But he’s on a journey to figure out who he is and how he exists in the world.”
The Matrix Resurrections is now playing in theaters around the world and streaming on HBO Max.