The original Matrix trilogy had one of the best casts of the early 2000s, with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss perfectly cast as Neo and Trinity. The two were superbly supported by Laurence Fishbourne and Hugo Weaving as Morpheus and Agent Smith, yet neither of them returned for the newest installment of the franchise, The Matrix Resurrections. While Fishbourne didn’t come back as Morpheus simply because he wasn’t asked, the story was different for Weaving.
Speaking with iO9, Matrix Resurrections co-writer Aleksandar Hemon hinted that director Lana Wachowski intended to bring Weaving back for the new installment, writing the part of Agent Smith with the expectation he’d return. But in Hollywood, things don’t always work out.
“During my brief career in the movies, I’ve learned that moviemaking, it’s a world of contingency,” Hemon said. “And so people might or might not, you know, sign on — or if they sign on, some things may change…[W]e did write some roles, I’m not going to give it away, but we wrote a character for someone we thought would play [it] and then it was not possible.”
Hugo Weaving was supposed to be in The Matrix Resurrections but “it didn’t work out”
While Hemon doesn’t expressly name Weaving, Agent Smith was played in the new movie by Jonathan Groff, and the script explained why the character now has a new face. Harmon explained that none of the dialogue was changed to incorporate a new actor, meaning “that actor is still inscribed in the role.”
Agent Smith would have been different in some ways, no matter who played it. And Jonathan Groff is amazing in that role. He added a dimension that I could not foresee while we were writing.
Speaking with Collider, producer James McTeigue was more direct, saying that attempts to bring Weaving back to the franchise didn’t pan out:
There was always the Smith character in there. Hugo is a friend of both of ours of long-standing. If we had a way of getting Hugo into the movie, we would have. But it didn’t work out. That’s just what happens in show-making sometimes. Schedules can’t work out. COVID was another curveball in the middle of it, obviously. It was a little more complicated than usual.
While none of Smith’s dialogue was changed, the new actor certainly puts his own spin on the character, building on the iconic performance that made Agent Smith a truly classic villain.
The Matrix Resurrections is currently in theaters and on HBO Max.