Trinity isn’t just cool. She contains multitudes. The name itself, obviously, suggests, the holy trinity of the father, the son, and the holy spirit. And in the first three Matrix films — the fourth of which opens this week — Trinity represents the trinity of herself, Morpheus, and Neo (Keanu Reeves). But, Trinity is also three people, she’s a badass inside the Matrix, a real person outside the Matrix, and in our world, she’s Carrie-Anne Moss. Trinity could never have been recast for the new film, Matrix Resurrections because Carrie-Ann Moss is the only person who could have ever played her.
So trust us when we tell you that no one — and we repeat no one — as more surprised to hear from Lana Wachowski, one-half of the brain trust (along with her sister Lilly) behind the Matrix films, about pulling on her signature sleek black bodysuit and stepping back into the world of the Redpills after a pause of nearly two decades. Did she have any qualms, after so many years, many of which she’d spent raising her three kids and tending to her chickens? Moss doesn’t hesitate. “I felt amazing. Amazing. Yeah. I love Trinity. I mean, she’s so wonderful of a character. I feel so blessed that I got picked to do this. It almost feels surreal at times,” says Moss.
Here, she talks to Fatherly about never being arm candy, getting into Trinity’s head-space, and why the theme of these films never loses their relevance.
So it’s been going on two decades, you’re now a very badass 54, and suddenly, Lana calls you?
Yeah. Lana texted me and said, ‘Hey, can you talk?’ And I called her. We hadn’t talked in a long time, and we just ‘Hi, how are you?’ I was so excited to just speak to her. And then she told me that she had written a script and would I want to be part of it? I was like, ‘Yes!’ And you know, timing is everything. Because in the first Matrix, I had been in this [TV] series. And I don’t remember what it’s called right now, but we were going into our third season and they had decided budget-wise that they weren’t going to renew my contract. I was really bummed. You feel rejected. For an actor, it brings up a lot of feelings. And they explained to me that it was really budget-wise, story-wise, it wasn’t personal, but you can’t take it personally.
And if I had been doing that, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I wouldn’t have been available because I’d be doing the series. That kind of moment made me really trust my journey and trust any kind of rejection. Like if I didn’t get a part, I … and I talk to other actors, like younger actors, about that. You really have to trust that if your name is on something, it’s there. But sometimes the journey’s meant for somebody else. But in that particular situation, I have this saying: Rejection is protection. I was rejected from that show, and because of that a whole other door opened for me. You do the preparation, you show up. And if it’s meant to be, you’ll get it.
(Editor’s note: The TV series Moss is likely referring to was the 1994-1999 series “Viper.” This is not to be confused with the 1993 TV series called “Matrix,” which Moss also appeared in and is, shockingly, unconnected to the more famous “real” Matrix.)
Do you think that applies to life in general? That you have to just trust that things will work out?
It’s true. In every day, in a relationship. And you feel devastated, and you’re grieving it. You should grieve it, you should have all your feelings about things because if you don’t it’ll come up in some other way. But if you trust that, you trust your journey and that you might not necessarily know why something’s happening, but when you look back, you’ll see that it was how it should have been.
I know that you and other cast members were given rather esoteric reading material before the other movies to get into that headspace. So did you get any assigned reading for this one?
No. And to be honest, I didn’t get them for the first ones either. I think Keanu did. Keanu definitely did. I didn’t receive that directive. I think that was his personal journey, and his interest and his personality, and how he wanted to understand the concepts. I didn’t read anything.
How did you get back into the Trinity headspace? Both physically and mentally.
I stepped foot on the training center on day one of training, and I saw Keanu, and we started. And from that moment, I was right back there. I had to do a lot of training. I loved that part of the work. You have to do more recovery as you get older, it takes longer to get in shape and all those different things, but it was really fun. It’s really fun to be surrounded by all these artists that are there teaching you stuff and they want you to be great. They want you to be able to do all the different action pieces that Lana has designed. And then with the characters, at wardrobe, doing those fittings, they have each evolution of the wardrobe. And I started to feel her more, feel who Trinity is now, and to bring that history of 20 years ago into the present. There’s no formula for that.
You know, neither in this series nor in your career in general, have you ever been the arm candy or pretty sidekick. Kudos on that.
I don’t think that people wanted me for that. I don’t think it was like I was avoiding something so much as I was … I don’t think people are hiring me for that. I don’t think I’m good arm candy.
I know that you had mentioned in the first movie there was one scene that you shot in heels, and then that was it for you. I love that you spoke up and trusted yourself to know what worked for you.
Aw, thank you. I really appreciate that. When I did that scene, I’m doing that scene and the scene’s not working. The scene’s totally not working, and the outfit’s really corseted and tight and all that, and it’s supposed to be this strong woman. And I can barely stand up because the heel is so thin. And then we regroup and I say I can’t be grounded in these shoes. And so they brought me boots, and everything changed. I don’t know how to do that. Even in the press and stuff, for what I have to do now with all the clothes and stuff like that, I really say that I need to have a boot for everything. I don’t want to be talking to a reporter and not being able to stand straight. Or wobbling. I’m not interested in the aesthetic over how it makes me feel.
When I was younger, it’s like … I don’t know. I think the timing is just right. We come into this certain time in our life where we go ‘I don’t need to be anybody for anybody else anymore. I’m done.’ And it’s not in a bitchy way. When I was even talking to the stylist who’s been helping me, I just said, ‘I want to feel really good. I don’t want to put anything on that I don’t feel great in.’
How long has it been since you and Keanu worked together? Two decades, right?
I think 20 years. It feels like a lifetime ago and yet it feels like yesterday. As soon as I stepped foot on that training center with him, it just felt like these two dear friends have come together to do this again. And I couldn’t ask for a better partner in my Trinity than him. And for myself personally, he’s just such a supportive person and he’s so committed to the work and he’s fun to be around. He sets the bar really high, and we have a lot of fun together and we respect each other and it’s truly a friendship that I really hold sacred. It means a lot to me. He’s really a special person for sure.
To pivot a little bit, what do you think is the message of these movies, and why has it transcended time?
Depending on the day I might have a different answer because I think there are so many complex ideas within the movies. I think the question of what is real, what is the Matrix, is something that, perhaps 20 years ago, was sort of like, ‘Wow.’ And then today we’re like, ‘What is the Matrix. Is this a Matrix? Is this a Matrix? Is this a simulation? Is this real? Am I being programmed by this thought or this idea? Is technology completely changing my brain, telling me how to think and feel?’
And I love this idea, the idea of being in the Matrix. In the movie, we explore the fact that these machines are imprisoning humanity, basically. And I’m interested in the ways that we imprison ourselves by our thinking. So we have our Matrix that we have in our minds, that come with each of us individually, depending on our childhoods and all the different things that have happened to us in our lives. So I’m super interested in that conversation about what does it really mean to be truly free? Is it possible? I don’t know. I’ve definitely caught glimpses of feeling completely free. I do a lot of meditating and stuff, and I spend a lot of time in nature, and I definitely have an access to what that feels like, to be unplugged when I’m in those spaces, but I have to be intentional about it.
How do you shut off your mind? Is that even possible?
I do think that meditating really helps because it gives you an opportunity to get rid of the garbage of your subconscious mind. Because the subconscious mind, it’s fueling everything you do. You think it’s your conscious mind, but it’s all the subconscious stuff that’s just layered in you. For me as a meditator or somebody who’s practiced yoga and stuff, that’s the main thing that I felt when I really started committing to my practice in a very simple and secure way, was that if I did it on a consistent basis, I had more … even if I did, say, just 11-minute meditation. If for two breaths I felt the stillness, then at least I know what it feels like.
I also find that I’m able to access that when I do physical stuff. Not necessarily physical exercise, but when I have a task in my yard or something like that. I have chickens, and so when I go out and I clean the chicken coop, I’ll be finished and I’m like, ‘Oh, I didn’t think about anything but cleaning that chicken coop.’ And this is better than therapy.
You’ve got two boys and a girl, and you’ve kept them entirely out of the spotlight. Do your kids care that their mom is Trinity?
I don’t know. Of course, they are aware now of the new movie and everything. And they’ve been really supportive of me doing this, and I think they respect me and love me and are happy for me.
We don’t sit around and talk about that, but I know that they’re excited for me. I think they understand … especially the older two, maybe not my daughter, but now that they’re older, they have a concept that at the height of my career I made a decision to be their mom, and that because they were there and they experienced it, they know that I was all in. But I know that they’re really happy for me, and that feels really good. You know, they’re really happy for me. Really excited about it. And it feels so good. It feels like the whole family did this together.
The Matrix Resurrections is out in theaters and streaming on HBO Max for the next 30 days.