Sun Herald (Aus), September 2, 2001
Keanu wants you for his new movie
Keanu Reeves will reprise the role of troubled cyber-hacker Neo, left, in the Matrix sequel.
By Christine Sams
Hundreds of Sydneysiders will appear alongside Keanu Reeves in The Matrix sequels after producers revealed they need an army of Australian extras.
But the creators behind the smash-hit action blockbuster are only looking for tall men to take part in their $200 million sequels.
"We need hundreds of local men to appear in the movies," said Fiona Searson, spokeswoman for The Matrix sequels. "But they need to stand between 183cm [six feet] and 188cm [six feet, two inches] to be considered for a role," she said.
Ms Searson said men aged up to 50 were welcome to audition for the action blockbusters - which will be filmed in Sydney over the next four months.
Reeves arrived in Sydney last week in preparation for his leading roles in The Matrix 2 and 3. He was joined by other key cast members including Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne, and filming is expected to begin at Fox Studios within a fortnight.
Hundreds of Sydneysiders will also join Reeves on set after producers announced the dream opportunity for everyday Aussie men to join the cast of the mega-budget production - even for just a few days.
An open casting call for Matrix hopefuls will be held in Newtown on Saturday and the men chosen will be required to work on set in October and December.
They will get a rare glimpse inside The Matrix sets at Fox Studios, where Reeves plans to reprise the role of Neo, a troubled cyber-hacker drawn into the mysterious world of The Matrix.
Local actor Hugo Weaving will also appear in the sequels as Agent Smith, with appearances from other Australian actors including Steve Bastoni.
All leading cast members have been involved in intense martial arts training, with the action expected to be even more spectacular the second time around.
"It's harder and more sophisticated," Reeves told US reporters. "Instead of one-on-one fights, there's multi-fights and weapons."
The directors, brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski, plan to film spectacular outdoor sequences in Sydney but details of the exact locations remain secret.
The brothers spent more than three months in Sydney in 1998 to film the original blockbuster.
It is believed they will spend more than $200 million on The Matrix sequels, with Australian crew members used for special effects, sound recording and camera work.
Australian special effects supervisor Steve Courtley and sound recordist David Lee won Oscars for their work on The Matrix.
The Wachowski brothers will film the sequels simultaneously.
In a major break from Hollywood tradition, the films are expected to be released within six months of each other, in 2003.
A number of scenes for the sequels have already been filmed in California and Chicago, but the high-profile cast members are expected to be in Sydney for at least four months.
INSIDE THE MATRIX
The storyline of Matrix 2 remains top secret, but insiders have revealed cloning is the key theme of the movie. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is set to fight 100 versions of himself in a stunning action sequence.
Warner Bros decided to use Sydney as the primary location for The Matrix in 1998 because of favourable tax conditions under 10B legislation.
The Australian Taxation Office has since rejected similar concessions for films including Red Planet and Moulin Rouge, prompting speculation The Matrix sequels will be Warner Bros' last big-budget productions in Australia.
The Matrix earned more than $320million at the US box office.