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The Story Behind Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Matrix 4 Audition

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has seen his star rise magnificently over the course of the last few years. He got his start on the series The Get Down, a hidden gem to watch on Netflix that was unfortunately canceled after a single season. However, you can't keep a good actor down for long, and he soon made a string of high-profile appearances in popular movies like The Greatest ShowmanAquaman, and Us. He also made a name for himself on the TV side when he landed the surprise role of Doctor Manhattan on HBO's Watchmen

2020 saw him deliver one of the most emotionally gripping performances of the entire year in the role of Bobby Seale in The Trial of the Chicago 7, which included the real-life depiction of how Seale was bound and gagged in the courtroom. Starring in a Sorkin flick is big, but 2021 may still prove to be the actor's biggest year to date. He's already set to anchor the Jordan Peele-produced Candyman reboot as well as the highly anticipated sequel The Matrix 4

Despite the hype, there's still a ton we don't know about the next installment in the science-fiction franchise. We don't even know the name of the character Abdul-Mateen is playing, and it's likely going to stay that way for a while. Based on a recent interview the actor did with Variety, it sounds as though even he's having a little trouble wrapping his mind around the story. As he puts it, "No one understands The Matrix except for Keanu Reeves and Lana Wachowski." He goes on to talk about the unique audition process and what it was like getting the chance to meet such a visionary director and writer.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II says the audition for The Matrix 4 was more about 'building a family' than acting

While plot details are sparse, there's still plenty of reasons to be excited for the sequel. Keanu Reeves, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Carrie-Anne Moss will return to reprise the roles they pioneered in the original trilogy. They'll be joined by some of the most exciting actors working today, including Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jonathan Groff, and Jessica Henwick. 

It's intriguing to think about how these actors could factor into The Matrix mythos, and our interest is even more piqued by the audition process Abdul-Mateen (and we're assuming all the new actors) had to go through. The actor says it only lasted two days, and that "Lana and I did more conversing than we did acting in that audition because she's building a family." 

It's understandable that one might assume the director would want to see how proficient Abdul-Mateen is with stunts given the fight sequences typically found in Matrix films or see how he handles some of the hypothetical emotional beats, but it sounds as though she was more interested in ensuring he had the right chemistry with her and the rest of the cast. 

The film may not be set to come out for 11 more months, but trust us when we say that time's going to fly by. Audiences will be able to see Neo's next adventure when the sequel arrives in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time on December 22, 2021.