Hugo Weaving says he received an offer to reprise his role as Agent Smith for The Matrix 4, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from accepting.
Hugo Weaving says he received an offer to reprise his role as Agent Smith for The Matrix 4, but scheduling conflicts prevented him from accepting. Smith, of course, was introduced in the original Matrix as one of the “Agent” programs tasked with preventing humans from escaping the simulated reality (aka. “The Matrix”) in which machines keep them imprisoned in the film’s dystopian sci-fi setting. He quickly became an iconic villain thanks to Weaving’s performance, especially the coldly robotic way he would refer to protagonist Neo (Keanu Reeves) by his name within The Matrix: “Mr. Anderson”.
Smith would go on to evolve into the big bad of the original Matrix trilogy in the sequels The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, becoming, in essence, a self-replicating virus and nearly taking over The Matrix before Neo defeated him by letting Smith overwrite him (allowing the machines that run the Matrix to delete Smith and his clones). While Smith’s story seemingly ended with Revolutions, the same could be said for Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and yet the latter pair are now confirmed to return in the upcoming Matrix 4.
Speaking to Time Out, Weaving revealed he received an offer to return for The Matrix 4 shortly after committing to the National Theatre’s The Visit, explaining “I thought [I] could do both and it took eight weeks to work out that the dates would work”. However, Lana Wachowski (who is directing The Matrix 4 solo after co-helming the trilogy with her sibling, Lily) later “decided that the dates weren’t going to work. So we’d sorted the dates and then she sort of changed her mind”. As such, the sequel will be moving on without him.
With plot details for The Matrix 4 under wraps, there’s no way to say for certain whether Smith was a part of the story but has since been written out entirely, or if another actor will bring the character to life in the film. Either one feels like a real possibility; although Smith appeared to have been wiped out for good by the end of the original trilogy, he could return with a new shell in The Matrix 4, much like the Oracle did in Revolutions (when Mary Alice took over the role after Gloria Foster passed away). Then again, it’s possible this new film involves time-travel and the original plan was for a pre-Matrix trilogy Smith to appear (with Weaving getting some CGI de-aging to play the role) in scenes set in the past, alongside characters like The Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) and, rumor has it, a young Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen’s supposed role).
Whatever the case, it might be for the best Weaving isn’t returning for The Matrix 4. Although the film has the potential to give Trinity a far better ending than she got in Revolutions and allow Neo to pass the title of “The One” onto another character (rumor has it Jessica Henwick is playing a “female Neo” in the movie), there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot let to do with Smith as a character at this point. Assuming the plan is for The Matrix 4 to usher in a new trilogy or more of Matrix movies (which it most likely is), the franchise would probably do well to shift its focus onto a new generation of heroes and villains and away from the original trilogy’s leads (a la what Star Wars did with The Force Awakens) as much as possible.