Keanu Reeves as Thomas A. Anderson / Neo: A computer programmer in Metacortex corporation who moonlights as a hacker. Reeves described his character as someone who felt that something was wrong, and was searching for Morpheus and the truth to break free. Will Smith turned down the role of Neo to make Wild Wild West, because of skepticism over the film’s ambitious bullet time special effects. He later stated he was “not mature enough as an actor” at that time, and that if given the role, he “would have messed it up”. Nicolas Cage also turned down the part because of “family obligations”. Warner Bros. sought Brad Pitt or Val Kilmer for the role. When both declined, the studio pushed for Reeves, who won the role over Johnny Depp, the Wachowskis’ first choice.
Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus: A human freed from the Matrix, captain of the Nebuchadnezzar. Fishburne stated that once he read the script, he did not understand why other people found it confusing. However, he had a doubt if the movie would ever be made, because it was “so smart”. The Wachowskis instructed Fishburne to base his performance on the character Morpheus in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics. Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson were also considered for the part. Despite widespread rumors, Sean Connery was not offered the role of Morpheus, but that of the Architect in the sequels.
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity: Freed by Morpheus, crewmember of the Nebuchadnezzar, Neo’s romantic interest. After reading the script, Moss stated that at first, she did not believe she had to do the extreme acrobatic actions as described in the script. She also doubted how the Wachowskis would get to direct a movie with a budget so large, but after spending an hour with them going through the storyboard, she understood why some people would trust them. Moss mentioned that she underwent a three-hour physical test during casting, so she knew what to expect subsequently. The role made Moss, who later said that “I had no career before. None.”
Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith: A sentient “Agent” program of the Matrix whose purpose is to destroy Zion and stop humans from getting out of the Matrix. Unlike other agents, he has ambitions to free himself from his duties. Weaving stated that the character was enjoyable to play because it amused him. He developed a neutral accent but with more specific character for the role. He wanted Smith to sound neither robotic nor human, and also said that Larry and Andy Wachowski’s deep voices had influenced his voice in the film. When filming began, Weaving mentioned that he was excited to be a part of something that would extend him. Jean Reno was offered the role, but declined, unwilling to move to Australia for the production.
Joe Pantoliano as Cypher: Another human freed by Morpheus, but one who regrets taking the red pill. Pantoliano had worked with the Wachowskis prior to appearing in The Matrix, starring in their 1996 film Bound.
Julian Arahanga as Apoc: A freed human and crew member on the Nebuchadnezzar.
Anthony Ray Parker as Dozer: A “natural” human born outside of the Matrix, and pilot of the Nebuchadnezzar.
Marcus Chong as Tank: The “operator” of the Nebuchadnezzar, he is Dozer’s brother, and like him was born outside the Matrix.
Matt Doran as Mouse: A freed human and programmer on the Nebuchadnezzar.
Gloria Foster as the Oracle: A prophet who still resides in the Matrix, helping the freed humans with her foresight and wisdom.
Belinda McClory as Switch: A human freed by Morpheus, and crew member of the Nebuchadnezzar.
Paul Goddard as Agent Brown: One of two sentient “Agent” programs in the Matrix who work with Agent Smith to destroy Zion and stop humans escaping the system.
Robert Taylor as Agent Jones: Second sentient “Agent” program working with Agent Smith.
Ada Nicodemou as DuJour (The White Rabbit Girl), a reference to the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.