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The Matrix Resurrections’ Jonathan Groff Recalls Sweaty Keanu Reeves And Why He Was Shocked He Landed The Role

Jonathan Groff in The Matrix Resurrections
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Spoilers ahead for The Matrix Resurrections.

After a year of delays, movie theaters featured a number of exciting blockbusters for the holiday season. This includes Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections, which offered a new take on the beloved science fiction franchise. And actor Jonathan Groff recently recalled sweaty Keanu Reeves, and why he was shocked he landed the role.

Jonathan Groff was one of many newcomers joining the Matrix franchise with Resurrections, but his character was one that fans know and love. The Hamilton alum took on the role of Agent Smith from the great Hugo Weaving, going toe-to-toe with Keanu Reeves in the movie’s dizzying fight scenes. He opened up about what it was like taking on such a beloved part in the franchise, saying:

That Matrix [Resurrections] felt like the total reverse of who I am… I was shocked when I was cast and I felt like, ‘Oh wow, this is really something outside of myself.’ Lana Wachowski, the incredible director of The Matrix, I’m such a fan of hers. So I had faith in her and I just jumped and went into it, but showing up on that first day of fight training and Keanu Reeves is in his Jiu Jitsu outfit, like sweating, fighting, doing all that [mimicks arm moves] – yeah super hot. Like crazy hot. It’s next level.

There you have it. Jonathan Groff isn’t an actor known for taking on action-heavy roles, instead balancing musical gigs like Frozen and TV dramas like Mindhunter and Looking. But it seems that’s what attracted him to the role, along with the opportunity to work with the visionary Lana Wachowski.

Jonathan Groff’s comments come from a recent appearance on The Drew Barrymore Show to promote The Matrix Resurrections. While his role was cloaked in secrecy leading up to the movie’s release, promotional material definitely hinted that he was the new Agent Smith. This made him Neo’s primary antagonist, requiring a ton of rehearsal and time spent with Keanu Reeves himself. And Groff was seemingly geeking out just like any of us would be.

In the theatrical cut of The Matrix Resurrections, Jonathan Groff definitely got to flex some new muscles, including playing a villain and doing intense action sequences. While Keanu Reeves is known for being the king of action thanks to ongoing roles like John Wick, Groff rose to the action and kept up with the 57 year-old icon. And things definitely got sweaty.

While Jonathan Groff was playing an established character in The Matrix Resurrections, his take on Smith brought something new to the table. He was a bit cheeky at times, especially when playing Neo’s business partner at the start of the movie. Additionally, Smith factors into the Act 3 conflict with the Analyst in a unique way. 

While some fans may be hoping to see more of Jonathan Groff’s Smith, it doesn’t appear that Lana Wachowski is interested in working on a sequel to The Matrix Resurrections. But given the movie’s thrilling ending, fan theories are likely going to continue.

The Matrix Resurrections is currently available in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.