Keanu Reeves opened up about his love for his Asian identity and presenting martial arts in a ‘respectful way’ while promoting The Matrix: Resurrections.
The 57-year-old actor reprises his role as Neo in the fourth installment of the film franchise and promoted the movie in a recent interview with NBC Asian America that also included his new co-stars Jessica Henwick, 29, and Priyanka Chopra, 39.
Reeves, who has a Chinese Hawaiian ancestry on his father’s side, rarely speaks about his Asian identity.
Asian identity: Keanu Reeves, shown Saturday in San Francisco, opened up about his love for his Asian identity and presenting martial arts in a ‘respectful way’ while promoting The Matrix: Resurrections
‘My relationship to my Asian identity, it’s always been good and healthy.And I love it,’ he said smiling. ‘We’ve been growing up together.’
Reeves also responded to recent references to him as a ‘person of color’.
‘I don’t know if I agree with that statement. But I don’t not agree,’ he said.
British Chinese actress Henwick plays Bugs, named after Bugs Bunny, in The Matrix: Resurrections and embarks on a rescue mission to free Neo from the machines that have trapped him again in the Matrix.
Fourth film: The 57-year-old actor reprises his role as Neo in the fourth installment of the film franchise
Film star: British Chinese actress Jessica Henwick plays Bugs, named after Bugs Bunny, in The Matrix: Resurrections and is shown Saturday at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco
Rescue mission: Bugs embarks on a rescue mission to free Neo from the machines that have trapped him again in the Matrix
Bugs was not written to be Asian and Henwick said ‘it wasn’t a conscious decision to choose an Asian person for Bugs.But I know it mean a lot to the community, and that’s amazing.’
‘And obviously Keanu was way ahead of the game and has been a shining pinnacle,’ she added.
Reeves for the kung fu fights in the new film was reunited with Tiger Hu Chen, who worked on the earlier Matrix films.
Sentient computer: Priyanka Chopra, shown Saturday in San Francisco, plays a sentient computer
‘Chen was my teacher on the trilogy, and it was wonderful to work with him on ”Resurrectrions”.We know each other, he’s a wonderful martial artist. So I feel really grateful and honored to be able to spend time with him,‘ Reeves said.
The film features a pivotal fight scene in a Japanese dojo-like setting.
‘With the martial arts, [we’re] presenting those art forms in an artful way, in a respectful way.Not in a way where it’s experienced as a caricature, but from a place of reverence,’ Reeves said.
Buddhist term: Chopra said her character’s name Sati comes from the Buddhist term for mindfulness
Henwick also praised director Lana Wachowski, 56, for continuing the diverse casting trend from the original Matrix trilogy.
‘Lana is a self confessed, huge fan of martial arts cinema, of anime.She’s seen more x anime 2001 than I have, actually. So I know that she would only ever come at it from a place of real love,’ Henwick said.
The film’s casting strived to be reflective and respectful of the Asian cultural sources the franchise has been based on.
Film director: Lana Wachowski, shown Saturday in San Francisco, directed the The Matrix: Resurrections
‘I think that ‘The Matrix’ movies really respect that,’ said Chopra who plays a sentient computer program named Sati who decides to help the humans.
‘To bring in Eastern philosophy, which I — having been raised in the East and grown up in India — feel like there’s something so powerful about the ancient wisdom that comes down, from cultures that are so old, and have been passed down from generation to generation,’ she said.
Chopra said her character’s name Sati comes from the Buddhist term for mindfulness.
The Matrix Resurrections will be in theaters on December 22 with a simultaneous release on HBO Max.
Coming soon: The Matrix Resurrections will be in theaters on December 22 with a simultaneous release on HBO Max and features Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jessica