The Matrix cinematographer Bill Pope disliked filming the “mind-numbing” sequels because The Wachowskis wanted to do so many takes.
During an interview with Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins for his Team Deakins podcast, Pope revealed that while he had a blast filming the 1999 Matrix movie, the sequels were a disaster.
“Everything that was good about the first experience was not good about the last two,” Pope said of shooting The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. “We weren’t free anymore. People were looking at you. There was a lot of pressure. In my heart, I didn’t like them. I felt we should be going in another direction. There was a lot of friction and a lot of personal problems, and it showed up on screen, to be honest with you.”
He also revealed that the Wachowskis, who helmed the sci-fi trilogy, had taken advice from director Stanley Kubrick, which had an effect on the cast, including Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne.
“It was not my most elevated moment, nor was it anyone else’s. The Wachowskis had read this damn book by Stanley Kubrick that said, ‘Actors don’t do natural performances until you wear them out.’ So let’s go to take 90! I want to dig Stanley Kubrick up and kill him,” Pope joked, adding that he had to sit through “90 takes of many things” while shooting the sequels and that “you’re not gaining anything (by doing so many takes).”
The cinematographer was exhausted shooting the back-to-back sequels for almost a year, and said the experience was “mind-numbing”.
“There is something about making a shoot that long, 276 shoot days, that is mind-numbing and soul-numbing and it numbs the movie,” Pope recalled. “In a movie shoot, it’s too long. There’s a limit from what you can take in.”
Pope will not be returning for The Matrix 4, which is being directed by Lana Wachowski and is currently set for release in April 2022. John Toll will serve as cinematographer.
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