Hugo Weaving Wasn't Totally Sold On The Matrix Resurrections Script, But That's Not Why He Isn't In The Movie

Hugo Weaving has played an almost absurd number of memorable characters in big-budget blockbusters over the years, but his role in the first three "Matrix" movies rises above them all. From the moment he steps on screen, Agent Smith is a force to be reckoned with. Cold, robotic and increasingly egotistical, everything this guy does is absolutely fascinating. 

Even though the first movie ends with Neo (Keanu Reeves) seemingly killing him for good, filmmakers Lana and Lily Wachowski seemed to realize how much they'd struck gold with the character. Not only did they bring him back, but they brought him back a lot. In "Reloaded" and "Revolutions," Smith has the power to turn other people within the Matrix into carbon copies of himself, which means that the sequels are filled with moments where multiple Agent Smiths are hanging out in a single shot. 

"Revolutions" ends with Smith being defeated (again), for good this time. So when we first learned that Weaving wouldn't be returning to the fourth film, "The Matrix Resurrections," it made sense. But then the movie came out and Agent Smith was in fact still there, just played by the (perfectly acceptable) Jonathan Groff. It's not a bad choice exactly, but it's a confusing one. If you're going to bring back the character, why not bring back the actor who played him? It's on the same level of weird as bringing back Morpheus (sort of) without Laurence Fishburne: not necessarily bad, but there's gonna need to be a good in-movie explanation for this decision.

Scheduling conflicts

In a 2020 interview with /Film, Weaving mentioned that it was important to him that there be a good creative reason to make the fourth "Matrix" film in the first place. "I had some reservations about going back into the Matrix. I really wanted to know why we were doing it and what's to be gained, apart from making money." When he got to read the script for "Resurrections" (and got to do a table reading with Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss), he claimed in another interview that "I loved a lot of it and wasn't sure about other bits." 

He never clarified what he wasn't sure about, but given the final film's divided reception, it could've been anything. As much as I think "Resurrections" was a satisfying, necessary conclusion to the series, it's still a movie with a lot of elements that might rub any normal person the wrong way. (For instance, Agent Smith's motivations in "Resurrections" admittedly don't seem to make a ton of sense.) 

Nevertheless, Weaving's feelings on the script weren't the main reason he didn't retake his role as Agent Smith. The real, undramatic reason is that it simply came down to a scheduling conflict, seeing as Weaving was acting in another project when most of the filming for "Resurrections" took place. They almost came to an arrangement where Weaving's scenes could be filmed later in the year — "I thought we could have done my scenes in May, June and July," Weaving said — but ultimately director Lana Wachowski decided it wasn't going to work. As Weaving explained, "She basically didn't feel that my commitment to the National Theatre was going to fit in with the dates that she had in mind for me."

Who did we get instead?

In the end, the script was rewritten so that Agent Smith had been essentially upgraded. Smith later describes his new appearance to Neo as "Even more perfect. Maybe a little too far on the piercing blue eyes." Beyond the appearance change, this version of Smith is a little less chaotic evil and much more chaotic neutral. He won't hesitate to kill Neo if it suits his needs, but he also won't hesitate to save Neo for the same reason. 

The new actor playing Smith also helps to make the early reveal somewhat surprising. If Weaving had been in the role, we'd have all known straight away that Neo's boss was actually Agent Smith, but because it's Jonathon Groff playing the guy, the movie gets to have fun keeping the reveal under wraps for at least a little bit.

Would it have been nice to see Hugo Weaving get to ham it up as Agent Smith again? Definitely. But considering how little the movie was about the character in the first place, it was hardly a disastrous creative choice to give Smith a different actor. Even without Hugo Weaving, the fourth "Matrix" film is still definitely worth a watch