Evening Standard (UK), May 22, 2003

Matrix Overload

Six gruelling weeks to promote £84m film, is a wet night in the West End the final straw for Keanu and star cast?

by Richard Simpson

It may have been the energy-sapping worldwide promotional tour, or it may have been the British weather, but whatever the reason the cast of The Matrix Reloaded looked distinctly glum at the blockbuster's British premiere in London. Stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Jada Pinkett Smith appeared tired and jaded at the Leicester Square screening last night, despite some 12,000 fans queuing in the teeming rain to glimpse their idols.

Following the film's world premiere in Hollywood at the beginning of the month and a European premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last week it is perhaps hardly surprising that Reeves, who ploughed a large sum of his own money into making the film, has been described by friends as "exhausted". The movie sequel - which has grossed £100 million in its opening week - was heralded as one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year with a publicity budget to match. The Cannes premiere and party - to which stars were flown in from around the world and special - effects cost £600,000 - set Warner Bros back £2 million.

However, as the tour reached London enthusiasm appeared to be wearing a little thin - after the Leicester Square premiere, there was no official party at all, just a meal and drinks at the River Café in Hammersmith, with a bill coming to about £6,000.

Reeves, 38, who was reputed to have been paid £7.5 million to star in the movie, wore a black suit and white shirt to the premiere last night and walked from fan to fan to sign autographs and pose for photographs.

The star, who spent 30 minutes meeting fans, said: "I wish I could have stayed out longer." He added: "Some people have been really anxious for this film to come out and I just hope it lives up to their expectations. I've loved making the film and I hope that it brings as much enjoyment to those who watch it." Also splashing their way along the red carpet at the Odeon in Leicester Square were twins Neil and Adrian Rayment - who play the Evil Twins in Matrix Reloaded. The brothers - once better known as the handymen from the Carol Vorderman DIY show Better Homes - arrived wearing matching purple suits, orange shirts and orange ties. Adrian said: "What typical British weather - it's peeing down with rain and everyone is still out there."

The actor and martial arts expert added: "The crowd - it starts two miles back. And despite the weather, everyone is just so up for it. To be honest, we are humbled. It's so nice to be included in such a memorable film and such a step from where we were to where we are now.

"To receive the applause and the 'well dones' is amazing."

The film's producer Joel Silver was also delighted: "I'm sorry it's so rainy but it feels like a sunny day to me."

Guests last night included Vic Reeves, Anthony Minghella, Greg Dyke, Michelle Collins, MC Harvey, Oswald Boateng, Billy Zane, and Bob Geldof.

The cast and crew of 40 are being accommodated on the top two floors at Claridges for £15,000 a night. And Reeves and his entourage have already dined out for the past three nights at the capital's most expensive restaurants - on the company's account. After the River Cate meal, the party continued, led by Will Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith, until the early hours back at Claridges' bar, before she eventually returned to her own hotel, the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge.

The £84 million movie contains even more ground-breaking special effects and spectacular fight scenes than in the 1999 original and has received mixed reviews. The third film in the trilogy, Revolution, is due for release this autumn.

Article Focus:

Matrix Reloaded, The , Matrix Revolutions, The


Matrix, The , Matrix Reloaded, The , Matrix Revolutions, The

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