Fans eagerly anticipating director Lana Wachowski’s return to The Matrix alongside Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss have all the more reason to be excited today, as the forthcoming fourth film in the game-changing sci-fi/action franchise has added a bright new star. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has been offered one of the film’s lead roles, according to Variety, taking the Aquaman and Us actor’s breakout to dizzying new heights.
According to Variety’s sources, Wachowski (whose sister Lilly is not involved in the new film) met with actors in consideration for the role over the past week, with Abdul-Mateen ultimately coming out on top. There’s no word on who else they liked for the role, nor on what the role actually is, though rumors suggest that a young Morpheus—originally portrayed by Laurence Fishburne, whose name is conspicuously absent from the franchise’s list of returning stars—may appear in the new movie, the plot of which remains a mystery.
Warner Bros. announced The Matrix 4 in August, shocking the world by bringing Reeves and Moss back, as well as writer-director Wachowski, who co-wrote its script with Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell, and will produce with Grant Hill. Though previous sequels to The Matrix—2003’s The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, both written and directed by the Wachowskis, and starring Reeves and Moss—left critics and audiences cold, the franchise has tallied over $1.6 billion in global gross—plenty of juice to justify Warner Bros. going back for another squeeze.
In addition to his high-profile roles in the aforementioned Aquaman (as villain Black Manta) and Us (as the Lupita Nyong’o character’s father), Abdul-Mateen is best known for his appearances in Netflix’s The Get Down, a pair of big 2017 studio movies in Baywatch and The Greatest Showman, and this year’s standout Black Mirror episode “Striking Vipers.” He’ll next appear in HBO’s Watchmen opposite Oscar winner Regina King, and in the forthcoming Nia DaCosta-directed, Jordan Peele-produced Candyman revival, playing its title character.
Production on The Matrix 4 is expected to begin in early 2020.