Entertainment Weekly (US), April 18, 2003

CoStar Gazing

The (supporting) players club of 'The Matrix Reloaded'

JADA PINKETT SMITH

Whom does she play? Niobe.

Good or evil? Good. Niobe is a former lover of Morpheus' and a mighty impressive fighter. ''She's pretty much the Han Solo,'' explains Pinkett Smith, 31, who was handpicked for the role by the Wachowski brothers before the first film. ''She is the best pilot of the fleet. She has the fastest ship. She's basically just one of those characters that does what she wants to do and how she wants to do it. She's pretty, uh, I'd say confident, to put it nicely.''

Could the five-foot-tall actress beat you up? You wanna start with her? ''I really enjoyed the [kung fu] training. I put on 15 extra pounds of muscle, I bench-pressed about 170. I physically wanted to look like a soldier. My character just eats, drinks, sleeps for [the last human city of] Zion. And so that's what I wanted my body to look like.''

How is she preparing for massive worldwide exposure? ''I guess the thought of huge exposure hasn't really [worried me]. Being married to one of the biggest movie stars in the world'' -- that would be Will Smith -- ''I guess it doesn't register for me, because it's a lifestyle that we're already living. So I just feel like everything is going to go as normal.''

Does she look good in latex? To say the least.

So, she can tell us how this sucker ends, can't she? ''Um, I have no idea,'' she says. ''But I'll tell you why -- I'm confused about what script is what. I had three of them and they all intertwined: the videogame, the sequel, and the third movie. I read the scripts and then I left them in the States. I was terrified. I had gotten so many calls from the [Wachowskis] saying 'This person lost this script and we're trying to retrieve it and, you know, please be careful.' And they had your name printed across the script, so if it got out, you're in deep s---! So I left them here and by the time I got to [the set in] Australia, it was like, 'Dude, what are we doing again? And this is what part of what movie?'''

Okay, but seriously, how does it end? ''I'm serious. I don't remember how the freakin' movie ends.''

HUGO WEAVING

Whom does he play? Agent Smith. And Agent Smith. And Agent Smith. Repeat 97 times. (See below).

Good or evil? Definitely evil. But in Reloaded Agent Smith's role gets a little more complicated. ''Well, I thought there was a fog of secrecy around this project,'' says Weaving, laughing. ''But things have sneaked out, so I don't think it's a secret that there's more than one Smith. That's the major development. He's also more of a free agent, but still out to get Neo. That's very clear. That's his sole purpose.''

What's it like to see 100 versions of yourself engaged in a huge kung fu battle? ''I just laugh. I think it's bizarre,'' the 43-year-old Australian says. ''When we shot it there were 13 of us -- me and 12 stunt guys who all had their heads shaved, because I have quite a high forehead -- and they all had these wigs of exactly the same hair as me, and all the same suits, and they're all of very similar height. So strange.''

What was his oddest bit of career serendipity? The actor happened to be cast in two of the biggest franchises of the last decade: The Matrix and The Lord of the Rings, in which he plays Elrond the elf lord. ''You'd expect it, but I don't get bothered a lot,'' he says. ''Of course, that could be about to change.''

So what are those reclusive Wachowski boys really like? ''Very different, but complementary. They finish each other's sentences and they round off the same sentences with the same sound effects. But the brothers make up two halves of a whole. Larry is more cerebral and Andy is more tactile.''

Does he look good in latex? N/A. Smith is more of a dark-suit-and-shades kinda guy.

So Hugo, buddy, how does it all end? [Silence]

MONICA BELLUCCI

Whom does she play? Persephone.

Good or evil? Evil. Persephone, who appears extensively in Reloaded but has only one scene in Revolutions, is a part of the Matrix that could once feel emotions but now can't. ''So there is something sad about her, but very dangerous, too,'' says the 34-year-old Italian actress (Tears of the Sun). ''She looks human, but she's not. She has powers; she can touch someone and feel what that person feels. No one can lie to her.''

What's in a name? ''Persephone, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Demeter,'' she says. ''She was kidnapped by the king of the underworld, Hades, and allowed to come back into the living world to see her mother just part of the year. This helps to understand my character, who is not human but wants to feel human. She's like a vampire of emotions.''

Who should watch his back around her? Persephone will represent an obstacle for Neo. Bellucci says she acts ''as a temptress.''

Does she look good in latex? If it's possible, even better than Pinkett Smith.

What made her want to make the movie? Other than the global exposure and huge boost to her career? ''To me, The Matrix is much more than a beautiful visual movie full of special effects,'' she says. ''It's a film about love, the philosophy of life, and about a man who is looking inside for the power he has within himself. He's looking for God inside, not outside, which is like Oriental and Indian philosophy in a way. There is big meaning there. It's not just a beautiful movie.''

Which of her costars had she licked and bitten before plugging in to Reloaded? Keanu Reeves. In 1992, they shared a brief sex scene in Bellucci's first Hollywood movie, Bram Stoker's Dracula, in which she played one of the bloodsucker's brides.

Does she know kung fu? No. Bellucci's only action scene involves no high kicks or wire work. ''I didn't have any bluescreen work [either], because my character does a lot more acting than jumping around. But I have another way to be dangerous.''

Which is? ''You'll see.''

So, can she tell us how it all ends? ''No.''




Article Focus:

Matrix Reloaded, The

Tagged:

Matrix, The , Matrix Reloaded, The , Matrix Revolutions, The , Bram Stoker's Dracula




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