Acting in the Dark: The live-action cut scenes for Enter the Matrix were shot simultaneously with the sequels. It got to the point where the actors didn't know whether they were shooting scenes for the movies or the video game.
What if I told you Morpheus never actually says "What if I told you..." at any point in the Trilogy? The origin of this meme stems from a simple jab at the film's twist, which featured a photo of Morpheus simply asking "What if I told you... The Matrix is all inside a computer?" Since then, people have just taken it from there.
One of Agent Smith's most famous quotations is often written as "But Mr. Anderson, how can you make a phone call when you cannot speak?" or something similar. The actual line is "Tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you're unable... to speak?"
California Doubling: In the scene in which Neo says "I used to eat lunch there. Good noodles", the car is clearly driving through the Chinatown end of George Street in Sydney's CBD. Of course, you also see the Sydney Tower and the Maritime Services Board control tower on the city's skyline.
Jada Pinkett was offered the role of Trinity, but had to decline, as she was pregnant at the time. She would play Niobe in the sequels and Enter the Matrix.
Anthony Brandon Wong auditioned for Tank in the first film. He would later play Ghost in the sequels and Enter the Matrix.
Creator Backlash: An oddly specific example: armorer John Bowring hated the Wachowskis' choice of the DesertEagle as the weapons of the Agents, deriding it as a "wanker's gun".
Creator's Oddball: The Matrix films have intellectual ambition to spare. This especially makes them stand out in their producer Joel Silver's catalogue, which has arguably more than its share of lowbrow action movies.
Development Gag: A deleted subplot reveals that Morpheus has previously believed five other people to be The One, all of whom died after attempting to fight the Agents. In The Matrix Reloaded, the Architect explains that there have been five previous versions of the Matrix before the current one, each with its own version of the One, meaning that Neo again has five predecessors.
Dyeing for Your Art: Rowan Witt's ("Spoonboy") mum was very reluctant to have his beautiful locks shaved off.
To prepare for the scene in which Neo wakes up in a pod, Keanu Reeves lost 15 pounds and shaved his whole body to give Neo an emaciated look. Prior to filming the scene, he shaved his head to a buzz cut in the real world scenes that take place after it.
Edited for Syndication: Basic cable cuts of the film frequently substitute "Shucks" or "Smokes" for "Shit," and change Neo's line in the interrogation room scene to "How about I give you a flipper?", while completely cutting the actual middle finger (and, by consequence, the "You give me my phone call" part of the line). Also "Jeepers creepers (originally "Jesus Christ"), that things real?!"
The AMC edit, in particular, changes a line in Reloaded to "I'll bring that whole cockamamie (originally "goddamn") building down."
Executive Meddling: Dropping the original idea of Human Resources being a vast neural net for the more literal concept of human Duracell batteries because Viewers Are Morons. Given all the other stuff that has to be explained (or not) in this trilogy, one wonders why this idea was so difficult to put across.
Recycled Set: Sets from Dark City, including rooftops, buildings and other exterior sets, were used in this film. The rooftops that Trinity runs across at the beginning of the film are the same ones that John Murdoch runs across in Dark City.
Throw It In!: After the lobby shootout, the camera pans back showing the aftermath of the gunfight in the lobby. During this, a piece of one of the pillars falls off. This happened by coincidence during the filming and was not planned, but was left since it seemed appropriate.
Neo throwing up after Morpheus explained the Matrix to him was also unplanned. Reeves had a stomach upset and just happened to throw up. They left that take in the movie.
Will Smith was offered the role of Neo, but turned it down for Wild Wild West. Smith explained his decision in 2004, in an interview with Wired:
"You know, The Matrix is a difficult concept to pitch. In the pitch, I just didn't see it.note Smith would later detail in a YouTube video that the Wachowskis talked more about the technology they were using for the effects rather than the story, which certainly made for an underwhelming pitch. I watched Keanu's performance — and very rarely do I say this — but I would have messed it up. I would have absolutely messed up The Matrixnote In the aforementioned video he also claimed it was for the best that he was not cast since it would prevent Laurence Fishburne from playing Morpheus since Warner Bros. didn't want both characters to be African-American, meaning the role would have likely gone to Val Kilmer.."
Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson were considered for Morpheus. Also, Chow Yun-fat was offered the role of Morpheus, but turned it down. Russell Crowe also turned down the role. He said: "I just didn't get it. I couldn't get past page forty-two. That world was just not interesting to me."
Sandra Bullock turned down the role of Trinity because she couldn't see herself acting alongside the actor the studio intended to play Neo. (This was before Reeves, her co-star from the 1994 hit Speed, was cast.) She later regretted this decision. Janet Jackson was initially approached for the role of Trinity, but scheduling conflicts prevented her from accepting it. In an interview, she stated that turning down the role was difficult for her, so she later referenced the film in the "Intro" and "Outro" interludes on her tenth studio album Discipline. Michelle Yeoh was also considered, as was Gillian Anderson and Madonna, while Salma Hayek and Gabrielle Union auditioned. Madonna said in a 2021 interview that she regretted turning down the film.
At the film's 20th anniversary, Yeoh revealed she was also offered Neo, with the Wachowskis being willing to make the character female if it meant getting a big star.
Jean Reno was approached to play Agent Smith. He turned it down and took a role in Godzilla (1998) instead. He was also unwilling to move to Australia.
Early drafts of the original film's script contain a number of things that were arguably changed for the better. One such detail is the climax having Neo flipping off Smith after being revived, while Smith helplessly lets out a Big "NO!" as Neo escapes.
The "mental projection" of the Matrix would have been plot-relevant, with Switch (the butch blonde woman and only other woman in the crew besides Trinity) appearing female in the Matrix but male in the real world. This concept would have particularly interesting in light of both the Wachowskis coming out as transgender women many years later.
Supernaturally Validated Trans Person: Switch was originally planned to appear as a man in the real world, but a woman in the Matrix itself (to the point of being portrayed by two different actors in each), implying some sort of gender identity gulf and raising questions on what was their real form. The final film largely cut this subplot out in favour of an androgynous appearance (and there's a Shrug of God on whether it's still canon), but their final words "No, not like this!" certainly harken back to it.
The script and art book reveal that Cypher's betrayal was originally going to be a lot more understandable and morally grey; Morpheus has been fruitlessly searching for The Chosen One for years and Neo is actually the SIXTH person Morpheus has pegged as "the One", making Cypher's resentment, doubt, and desire to return to the Matrix far more reasonable. This was also meant to foreshadow the reveal in the second film that the prophecys a lie, with the implication being that Morpheus kept getting it wrong because there was never a real "One" to find.