After Matrix Resurrections And Marvel Issued An Ultimatum, Star Chose To Work With Keanu Reeves

From appearing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to her time on TV shows like Game of Thrones and Iron Fist, Jessica Henwick has collected some major franchise/property cred. That list is about to get longer too, as she’s starring alongside Keanu Reeves in next month’s The Matrix Resurrections. However, in order to take part in the fourth Matrix movie, Henwick had to turn down the opportunity to audition for one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest movies, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

As already noted, Jessica Henwick already has some Marvel experience under her belt thanks to playing Colleen Wing in Netflix’s Iron Fist, a role she reprised in The Defenders and Luke Cage. However, an opportunity came along for her to possibly appear in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but it arrived at the same time as she was being considered to play Bugs in The Matrix Resurrections

The offers to audition, in fact, actually came on the same day. Disney and Warner Bros. learned about the competing auditions and told the actress that she could audition for their movie only if she turned down the movie from the other studio. As Henwick told EW:

It was a red-pill/blue-pill moment for me.

That’s an apt, Matrix-y way to describe the situation, especially considering that whatever role Jessica Henwick chose, it still wasn’t guaranteed that she’d get it. It also wasn’t mentioned which specific character Henwick was up for in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, although given her combat training, I suspect she was being looked at for Xu Xialing, Shang-Chi’s sister. Regardless, Henwick decided to pursue The Matrix Resurrections and scored the Bugs role, while Meng'er Zhang was ultimately selected to play Xialing in Shang-Chi (and it’s expected we’ll be seeing more of her in the MCU).

Jessica Henwick as Bugs in The Matrix Resurrections

(Image credit: Village Roadshow Pictures)

So why did she ultimately choose to dive into the Matrix 4 over what Marvel could have potentially offered? 

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.

Maybe there will come a day when Jessica Henwick is approached to play someone else in the MCU; after all, she wouldn’t be the first actor to play two different Marvel characters (such as Mahershala Ali previously starring as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes in Luke Cage and now preparing to succeed Wesley Snipes as Blade). 

For now though, Henwick described Bugs as being like “the audience’s eyes” into The Matrix Resurrections. While specific details about this blue-haired, white rabbit-tattooed character are still being kept under wraps, the movie’s trailer shows that she helps guide Keanu Reeve’ Neo back into the virtual world he operated in two decades ago. You can rewatch that preview below.

The Matrix Resurrections hits both theaters and HBO Max on December 22, although you’ll only have a month to watch it on the latter platform. Our 2021 release schedule lists the other movies left to arrive this year, or start planning what you’ll see next year with our 2022 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.