There aren’t many who haven’t heard of The Matrix, or the Wachowski sisters. A sci-fi, action, romance franchise that dominated conversation back in 1999, the original trilogy and subsequent manga, comics and video game spin-offs have been unmatched in vision and direction.
So when director Lana Wachowski opted to resurrect the franchise, the whole project was executed in secrecy such that when Neil Patrick Harris was approached for the film, he had no idea what it was about.
“I was originally just sent an email asking if I wanted to get on a zoom chat with a female director who’s currently working on a project. I said, ‘Well, that’s very vague, I need a little bit more specifics!’” laughed Harris in an exclusive interview with Geek Culture.
“And they said, ‘It’s Lana Wachowski’ and I was like ‘Oh wow, that’s great!’ because I was a fan of Sense 8.”
Even when he hopped on the call, Harris wasn’t entirely sure what he was signing up for. After a 45 minutes call with the director, she invited him to fly out to San Francisco to meet in person to talk about the part.
So of course, Harris picked the red pill.
“I think the first Matrix really revolutionised the way an action movie, a giant sci-fi action movie can be elevated in a way that honors the viewer and makes them feel appreciated and heard. I don’t know of another type of movie that had done that before The Matrix had, so I think it’s incredibly exciting to be a player within that game,” smiled the 48-year-old actor.
“It was probably my red pill moment, and then suddenly the mirror warped and I walked into a world I’ll never forget.”
Best known as Barney Stinson from the hit comedy How I Met Your Mother from 2005 to 2014, Harris ventured into more absurdist comedy in later roles, as Count Olaf in the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events in 2017 and the villain in 2014’s A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Whether it be in TV shows or movies, Harris has always played ‘the funny guy’ which makes his casting as The Analyst aka Thomas Anderson/Neo’s therapist a lot more intriguing. The Analyst is a new character introduced in Resurrections and just like the email he received, the trailer and Harris himself are vague about what The Analyst really does.
Crossing his arms and looking over to one corner of the room, the actor carefully picked his words when asked to describe his character.
“I play Thomas Anderson’s analyst. Thomas is living in a world as a game designer, where he is feeling that things might not be what they seem, that he’s not sure who he is in the world,” explained Harris tactfully.
“And any good analyst’s job is to quell those concerns and make sure that Thomas was not asking too many questions unnecessarily and was able to maintain the fairly successful and happy life that he was living.”
There’s clearly more than what’s led on but Harris would like to keep the role secret so that fans could experience it for themselves in theatres. A big clue though, is that the pills he prescribes Neo are of an awfully familiar shade of blue — but we’ll let you decide what that means.
Fans know that the entirety of The Matrix and the adventures that come from it boils down to a single moment in the 1999 film when Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus asks Keanu Reeves’ Neo to decide which pill he’d like to take — red or blue.
When offered the same question to Harris, he said, “It depends on what you mean by ‘red pill’ or ‘blue pill’.”
“If I was to be asked if I want to acknowledge that the world is actually much more grim and horrible and needed saving or would I rather happily live in ignorance, then I’d probably take the blue pill,” Harris thought aloud.
“But if you are asking me whether I would rather seek out adventure and new experiences and ask for truth instead of a watered down reality. I would definitely take the red pill.”
The Matrix Resurrections premieres Dec 22, 2021.
This article was first published in Geek Culture.