Jessica Henwick had a “red pill, blue pill moment” while deciding between The Matrix Resurrections and Marvel.
Henwick, born on August 30, 1992, is a British actress. She is the first British-Chinese actress in history to appear in the leading role of a British television series, having featured in the kid’s show Spirit Warriors.
Moreover, she has projects of some big franchises to her credit including, X-wing pilot Jessika Pava in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Colleen Wing in Netflix’s Iron Fist, and Nymeria Sand in the HBO series Game of Thrones. Her other notable projects include The Defenders and Luke Cage Season 2. Moreover, another marquee project is about to get added to her credits, as she’s starring with Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Resurrections, which is releasing this month in Canada. Have you forgotten about HBO films? Then check out some of the best movies on HBO Max to watch in Canada for a quick recap.
As already stated, Henwick has already got some Marvel experience with her role of Colleen Wing in Iron Fist. Later she played that role in Luke Cage and The Defenders. However, another opportunity came knocking at her door with a possible role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Ironically it arrived at the same time when she had an offer on the table to play Bugs in The Matrix Resurrections.
The drama began when Henwick was enjoying a hiking trip in the Meseta desert of Spain. “I got an email about [Resurrections] offering me a self-tape [audition], but I actually turned it down first,” she states. “I was on an extended trip and it wasn’t the place to go make a self-tape.”
Later, when she finally got back home after a month, she got another notification. The notification revealed that director Lana Wachowski was still finding an actress to play the character of Bugs, a blue-haired clandestine woman with a rabbit tattoo who crosses paths with Neo (Keanu Reeves) in the upcoming sequel. The self-tape audition worked out, but she ended up having a choice to make.
In the twist of the tale, the offers to audition came on the same day. Disney and Warner Bros. knew about the competing auditions and firmly told the actress that she could audition for their film only if she refused the other studio.
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The day she got the proposal to fly to L.A. to chemistry read with the actors considered for the role of Morpheus, including Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, was the same day she received an offer to audition for Shang-Chi. “[The studios] knew about the other offers, and both of them gave me the offer on the stipulation that I could only audition for one or the other. And there was no guarantee that I would get either,” Henwick remembers. “It was a red pill, blue pill moment for me.”
That’s an appropriate way to describe the situation in a Matrix-esque way, especially taking into account that Henwick wasn’t guaranteed that she would get any role after the auditions.
Similarly, it also wasn’t revealed which particular character she was considered for in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Though, given her extensive combat skills, it was suspected that Henwick was being considered for Shang-Chi’s sister, Xu Xialing. Nonetheless, Jessica Henwick chooses The Matrix Resurrections instead and got the role of Bugs. Whereas Meng’er Zhang was finally selected to play Xialing in Shang-Chi.
As per Henwick, choosing The Matrix franchise felt like a once-in-a-lifetime moment. “I’ve had a great working relationship with Marvel,” she states about the role of Colleen in Iron Fist. “I’ve obviously done Marvel TV, so I was already in the universe. I knew that joining The Matrix is not an opportunity that you get every day. Lana has had so many offers to make more Matrix films. I just knew it was now or never. Whereas, obviously, Marvel is a huge, wonderful company that makes films very, very regularly.” Have you forgotten about Marvel films? Then check out Marvel movies in order for a quick recap.
Evidently, Henwick got her instinct right as she’s all set to appear alongside Matrix greats Keanu Reeves, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Carrie-Anne Moss, plus new faces like Neil Patrick Harris, Abdul-Mateen II, Priyanka Chopra, Jonathan Groff, Eréndira Ibarra, Christina Ricci, and others.
Henwick gave credit to all her previous action roles that made her physically capable of taking on The Matrix role. She learned how to handle a whip from Game of Thrones and became adept in sword fighting and martial arts from Iron Fist. While titles like Star Wars: The Force Awakens Underwater came with their own unique challenges.
“I’d learned through so many different teachers and so many different styles [of action], and it was kind of perfect for Bugs,” she explains. “The only thing that was really new for me was working with weapons, specifically guns. I’d never shot a gun in real life. I didn’t realize how heavy they are and how hard it is not to blink when you do it.”
The actress also stated that she has never worked with Wachowski before, whom, she defines, has a distinctive style of filmmaking that requires the actors to be in “a permanent state of readiness.”
“From what I know of the original Matrix, they were heavily, heavily storyboarded to the point where — and this is a story told to me by our armorer — you could go up to the storyboards, count out the background characters, and go, ‘There are going to be eight extras carrying guns in this.’ And you would get there on the day, and there would be eight extras carrying guns. Like it was that minute,” Henwick recollects. “Obviously, it’s been many years, and Lana’s made many films in the interim, and she’s changed her style of filmmaking. Now, it’s very fluid and very instinctive. There were no storyboards for us to see, certainly. There was no plan. We would get to set, and then we would just wait for Lana to tell us what was happening. Lana shot 360 [degrees] all day. She could literally be filming Keanu, and then halfway through his line, she would just turn the camera around onto you. And you better hope that you were in the scene and you were ready to go.”
Off the set, Wachowski would invite all the actors on art tours and dance parties in order to create harmony among the cast members and also make sure everyone was on the same creative wavelength. “She’s a very interesting director,” Henwick comments.
The Matrix Resurrections will premiere on both HBO Max and theaters on December 22. However, it will be available only for one month on the former platform.