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Hollywood studios had to shut things down when quarantine affected virtually every corner of our globe earlier this year. Films that were supposed to reach theaters were pushed back, many as much as a full year. And productions that were shooting had to be delayed, which came with hardships but also silver linings, because delays created breathing room for creatives to work out issues and iron out kinks.

Watchmen and Aquaman co-star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II happened to be in the middle of filming The Matrix 4 when Warner Bros. paused production thanks to the pandemic. We spoke to the actor about his role in the upcoming legal drama The Trial of the Chicago 7, and when we brought up the Matrix 4 delay, he explained how the temporary shut down affected him. Watch the video above to hear his explanation.

A shorter delay on a production like The Matrix 4 – or any production, really – benefits the creatives. You get a breathing-room pause, allowing you to work out any key issues. But productions also fall into a rhythm, and so falling into too long of a delay can cause a serious rut. It doesn’t sound like that happened to the crew of The Matrix 4, and they were able to resume production relatively quickly and safely, keeping them on track for a future release date.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

There’s so much about that movie that we don’t quite understand. While Lana Wachowski is directing, and original stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Jada Pinkett Smith are back, the story is a major question mark. Because the reality of the Matrix can be very fluid, The Matrix 4 would be a sequel, a prequel or a spinoff, and little would have to be adjusted. As Abdul-Mateen II stated:

I think I’ve been fortunate enough, with The Matrix, that the pause we experienced was not a long of a pause as a lot of the other productions. I find myself being fortunate enough to be able to stay in the creative spirit, and to continually be processing it and making work. But I think that this is an industry that does survive by finding the silver lining. I think that it will be the case that this is a time for artists, for creatives, to rejuvenate, to go back and look at footage, to look at what they already have in the can and say, ‘Okay, well, this is what we’re going to do better. This is how we’re going to streamline it, and become more efficient. And so I hope that the response will be a lot of quality work coming out in the next year.

The film’s release date has been adjusted. It’s currently down for April 1, 2022. Aside from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Matrix 4 will co-star Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Toby Onwumere, Max Riemelt, Eréndira Ibarra, Priyanka Chopra, Andrew Caldwell, Brian J. Smith, and Ellen Hollman. I don’t see Hugo Weaving there. That’s a damn shame.

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