Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is playing coy when it comes to talking about playing Morpheus in the upcoming “The Matrix Resurrections”.
“The character’s called Morpheus,” he tells British GQ, suggesting that he may – or may not – be playing a version of the character originated by Laurence Fishburne in the original trilogy. In it, Morpheus led the resistance against the machines and while original series stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are reprising their roles, Fishburne doesn’t seem to be involved. “It will make sense when it comes out,” Abdul-Mateen II says, adding he was “aware” of the trilogy “but it wasn’t something I watched ten or 15 times. I’ve never had an argument about ‘The Matrix!'”
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While he may not be saying much about the highly-anticipated return of Neo and co., he does offer some clues as to what fans can expect.
“Tonally, it’s a bit different,” the actor teases in a new cover story for British GQ‘s Heroes issue. “In the original, there was this warning of what the world could be if we stay inside our little machines and if we stay on the hamster wheel and not open our eyes,” he says. “In our new ‘Matrix‘, it feels like the world has already gone there – we’ve already surpassed that warning. The world is already sick. And this ‘Matrix’ is about what the world could return to.”
Abdul-Mateen II has been one of the biggest breakout stars in recent years, winning an Emmy for “Watchmen” and appearing in the Oscar-nominated “The Trial Of The Chicago 7”, as well as landing lead roles in “Candyman”, as well as the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel, “Mad Max” spin-off “Furiosa”, and Michael Bay’s “Ambulance” opposite Jake Gyllenhaal. But for the actor, it’s all happened while most of the world was in lockdown.
“The interesting thing about the career growth I’ve had is that it happened in a pandemic,” he explains. “I was not a participant in the world. I wasn’t there – I was in Berlin in my apartment in lockdown [filming ‘The Matrix Resurrections’]. I won an Emmy and I’ve never been to the Emmys. It was just me, my cousin sitting to the left, a make-up person who I didn’t know and a tech guy. He was pleasant. But he was there to set up the camera. And that’s how I won an Emmy.”
READ MORE: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks ‘The Matrix 4’, ‘Aquaman 2’ & More In ‘THR’ Cover Story
With high-profile roles pouring in, Abdul-Mateen II is preparing for the spotlight to get even brighter, as much as he can.
“Can anybody prepare for this? Can anybody prepare for this position?” he asks. “Some are made for it and good on you if you are. I think even great artists have that thing – an ego that needs to be fed after a performance, the sound of applause, the rush. That’s a very natural thing. What I exercise is honesty to myself.”
See the full feature in the GQ Heroes issue available on digital download and on newsstands Friday, Nov. 5.