Neil Patrick Harris Talks Starring in the Queerest “Matrix” Movie Yet
Major spoilers ahead for The Matrix Resurrections
The Matrix's long-rumored status as a trans allegory has been confirmed, but now the sci-fi franchise is truly queer canon with the addition of its newest installment, The Matrix Resurrections.
For the fourth film, director Lana Wachowski steps behind the camera again, bringing along crew from her beloved queer-inclusive Netflix series Sense8. There is queer talent onscreen as well, including Jonathan Groff, Brian J. Smith, and Neil Patrick Harris.
Even though the plot for the new Matrix is harder to crack than Thomas Anderson's computer code, Logo spoke with Harris about his mysterious role in the sci-fi blockbuster, including what it was like doing his own stunts and working with Wachowski, and if he thinks a Matrix musical could work.
I read how you didn't realize you were being considered for The Matrix movie. What was it like when you found out that your character, the Analyst, is the main villain of the movie?
Oh, well. I wouldn't certainly say that, but I think as being able to be a character of any sort in a Lana Wachowski film, TV show, commercial, industry — I would be a part of it. She's amazing, and I loved that what she was asking from me was to convey a specific type of energy, as opposed to playing a caricature or even a character. She wanted the Analyst to be soothing and comforting and almost hypnotic in the way that he is able to quell upset. And so that, I thought, was a fun task, and I'm thrilled that she chose me to do it.
You have these quiet scenes, but then you're also in some action shots, like the Simulatte sequence. What was it like filming that massive scene?
Those were some of the more out-of-body experiences because it's just really happening, and it's not done with a lot of computer assist. Lana right now likes things to be natural: natural lighting if possible, fluidity within staging, within stunts, which normally are very structured. So getting to witness everyone out of their comfort zone, even people who had been doing, you know, being thrown from a wire, they'd been doing that for 15 years, they had never done it in this context where things were kind of nebulous. And that was awesome. I asked if I could do as many stunts as they would let me — which wasn't a lot given my role in the film — but anytime I was able to be tossed or thrown or kicked or punch, I said, "Let it be me and not some guy that kind of looks like me that you have to cut to a wide shot and see someone else take a tumble." Like, I only get to do this once, so let me go full tilt.
You know, it did look like it was actually you who was thrown behind the coffee bar at Simulatte.
I think I got a little concussed back there once because we were filming something where I was behind a counter. I was crawling in the context and I went too far forward, and a stunt actor was supposed to fall in front of me and land. And I got knackered by his big boot in the face. Because I wanted to do my own stunts and didn't wanna seem like the actor who couldn't handle it, I was fine, but I was rattled for a while from that. Like, I had to sit and step aside when no one was looking and shake it off.
Later in the movie, you get shot by Jonathan Groff, and Carrie Ann Moss slits your throat open. How was it filming those scenes?
Anytime that you're in a sequence of any sort of action, it's a give and take. And so I think you have to be good at receiving as well as giving. Is that an appropriate thing to say for Logo?
Oh, yeah. When you and Jonathan were onscreen together, I was expecting you two to break out in song. Do you think a Matrix musical could work?
Wow. It would have to be on a very large scale. Very Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
Exactly. Maybe it'd be too much like Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, so perhaps we don't want a Matrix musical.
Hey, I loved that. I sat and watched that musical like it was a roller derby, expecting things to go wrong, for people to fall from their wires. It was very...
It was a white-knuckle ride.
It was, it was. And there's the title for the musical.
On the set, there was Lana, you, Jonathan, and the crew from Sense8 behind the camera. I picture it almost like this futuristic, queer safe space on set. Was that how it felt?
For sure. Well, Lana is just — to me, she embodies safe space. She is so next level to me about her sense of self, and fluidity, and oneness, and truth and heart. She really has defined herself in her own way, and that definition is so empowering and kind of enthralling and hypnotic. And it makes me wanna be a better person. Very strange thing to say 'cause that sounds so glib, but it's true. I live in my brain a lot more. I'm often existing in a world where I'm weighing the consequences of actions in my mind. And I'm thinking about even in this conversation right now, like, how do I answer that question? Should I say this? Maybe I'll say that. I'll say that. I do that very quickly in my brain. And I think that Lana operates from more of a heart center, and I know that it is a wonderful place to be. Everyone around her is drawn into her process and is impressed by who she is as a person and as an artist. To be able to say those kinds of things with authenticity about a person is one thing, but to me, to have that person be a major film director in a world that's often straight white guys — a very sort of boys club — I think to have her be a trans woman is just incredibly exciting.
It sounds like being in this Matrix was life-changing for you.
For sure. We were filming in Berlin, Germany, where they reside, which is a beautiful country. We were one of only a few films that were able to roll during a pandemic that was affecting the whole world. So we were in this very interesting little bubble of safety, and creativity, and authenticity. And I think that is a dichotomy that I wasn't expecting, given that it was a big, giant Matrix film. I was just anticipating it being more by the numbers, lots of sequences that you knew were happening on those days. But sometimes the sun was coming in a certain way on those windows and everything shifted, and the day's work switched, and a new day came in, and you never rehearsed. You were just always living this very authentic, surreal red-pill life.
The Matrix Resurrections is in theaters and available on HBO Max now.