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Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother

For years it was thought that the Matrix film series would never extend past the conventional trilogy, and then it was officially announced in August that The Matrix 4 is in the works. Fast-forward to today, it’s being reported that Neil Patrick Harris has signed onto the highly-anticipated project.

Alas, because The Matrix 4 is keeping plot details close to the chest, Variety did not learn any details about who Neil Patrick Harris will be playing. He is the fourth actor to signed on to the movie, following behind Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who will obviously be reprising Neo and Trinity, respectively, and Aquaman star Yayha Abdul-Mateen II, whose role is also being kept secret.

While Neil Patrick Harris is best known for his starring roles on TV shows like Doogie Howser, M.D., How I Met Your Mother and A Series of Unfortunate Events, he’s also no stranger to working in sci-fi and overall genre fiction. His credits in that sphere include Starship Troopers, Justice League: The New Frontier, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Quantum Leap and Spider-Man: The New Animated Series. So The Matrix 4 will be somewhat familiar, albeit more intense territory for him.

Again though, it’s anyone’s guess at this point about how Neil Patrick Harris will fit into The Matrix 4. Maybe he’ll be an ally to Neo, Trinity and the other protagonist, or maybe he’ll an adversary to them, perhaps serving as an Agent Smith-like figure. Regardless, as noted by Variety, The Matrix 4 marks Harris’ “first tentpole at a major studio,” and rather than simply cameoing/making a minor appearance, it’s expected he’ll have an integral role.

While no official information about The Matrix 4’s story has been disclosed to the public yet, supposedly it will involve the inclusion of younger versions of Neo and Morpheus. This has resulted in speculation that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will fill the latter role (previously played by Laurence Fishburne, though there’s no word yet on if he’s involved in this new movie), but considering that Neil Patrick Harris is only nine years younger than Keanu Reeves, we can logically rule out he’ll portray Neo earlier in life.

Behind the camera, Lana Wachowski is returning to co-write and direct The Matrix 4, having previously overseen the last trilogy with her sister, Lilly. Lana is working on the script with David Mitchell and Aleksander Hermon, both of whom she and Lilly previously worked with on Sense8.

Of course, it’s no secret that while the first Matrix movie is a beloved sci-fi classic, its two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, were not met with nearly as warmly by critics or fans. Still, with Keanu Reeves riding high on the success of the John Wick movies, and various producing rights issues being handled, Warner Bros felt now was time to bring the franchise back. Fingers crossed Neil Patrick Harris’ presence can help with making sure this Matrix movie shines like the one that started it all.

The Matrix 4 doesn’t have a release date assigned yet, but production is set to begin in early 2020. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on its development. For now, keep track of what’s already on the calendar with our 2019 release schedule and 2020 release schedule.

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