The Matrix Resurrections’ Ellen Hollman Teases Jaw-Dropping Stunts (Interview)

Nearly 18 years after the Wachowski sisters last plugged into The Matrix, their reality-bending world returns to…

Nearly 18 years after the Wachowski sisters last plugged into The Matrix, their reality-bending world returns to the big screen with 2021’s highly anticipated The Matrix Resurrections — and, despite their apparent deaths in The Matrix Revolutions, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are back. Exactly how their miraculous resurrections happen is something best left for the Warner Bros. film, heralded as a “meta-love story” by critics, to reveal in its own time with director Lana Wachowski’s signature flair. However, franchise fans can certainly count on the latest Matrix film to continue its legacy of genre-defining action sequences and revelatory fight choreography.

In anticipation of The Matrix Resurrections‘ release, CBR spoke with martial artist and actor Ellen Hollman (Love and Monsters, Spartacus: War of the Damned) about her secretive role in the action film. Although her role is being kept under wraps, Hollman was more than happy to dish on the incredible experience of working with the Wachowskis and what’s it like to appear in one of this decade’s most memorable action films.

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trinity screaming in matrix 4 resurrections

CBR: The Matrix Resurrections is easily one of the most anticipated action films of this decade. You have a role in the film, so I’d love to hear what thought went through your head when you first received and read the script?

I do have to admit that it was surreal. It’s one of those experiences in your life that feels so right. You feel as if you’ve lived this moment 1000 times, yet it doesn’t completely sink in even when you’re sitting there at the table read or you’re rehearsing countless hours’ worth of choreography, or where Lana is hugging you for the fifth time that day. It’s something that just felt so right like I was meant to be there. Everyone gave it 1,000% worth of their effort. There was equal enthusiasm across the board for this incredible opportunity.

I’m sure you can’t say much about your role in the film, but can you give hint to what you bring to the world of The Matrix?

We can’t say much on that. However, there was a new trailer released… called “Deja Vu.” It essentially touches upon numerous matrix, numerous realities. How many Neos are there? How many yous are there? How many of myself are out there? So for the keen eye, you’ll be able to do some due diligence. However, I am not able to say anything in particular yet.

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neo and trinity in front of simulatte sign in matrix 4

Oh, I love how the trailers have so many clues that make you want to go back to The Matrix to solve it. That’s kind of what the whole series is about.

That’s what Lana is all about as well. The trailers are super sneaky, like if you blink your eye, you will miss a huge clue. So they’re designed to be watched over and over and you’ll pick up something different. It’s interesting because I’ll have so many of those Easter eggs sent to me from friends from all over the world. They’re like, “Oh my God, we just saw this bit and this bit of it.” Like, I didn’t even see that. How did you catch that? I had one recently where someone sent me a screenshot. They’re like, “Is this you?!” I’m like, “Yes, you got that.” So that’s what’s fun about it, though. It’s just very similar to the original installment of this franchise, the original Matrix. It makes you think.

As someone who is also a martial artist and often does her own stunts, I’d love to hear what it was like working with the fight choreographer on this.

So we had actually my husband, Stephen Dunlevy, as one of the stunt coordinators and then we had a supervising stunt coordinator as well, Scott Rogers, and then we had Jonathan Eusebio, who is one of the coordinators and incredible choreographer. So there were a lot of hands in this pot given the epic scale of it. The stunt team behind Matrix 4 is 8711 Action Design.

8711 is essentially my extended family. My husband’s been part of that stunt team for years and years. At the helm of it is David Leitch, who directed Deadpool and Atomic Blonde, as well as Chad Stahelski, who has directed the entire John Wick franchise. Chad has six black belts in numerous mixed martial arts and just so happens to be my mentor in jujitsu and a fun little — speaking of Easter eggs — a fun little nugget here is that Chad Stahelski originally doubled Keanu Reeves in the original The Matrix. He went on to double him and over the years became a fight choreographer, stunt coordinator, second unit director, and now he’s one of the biggest hottest directors in the entertainment industry.

To be able to train alongside Chad and his team for years and years — just because I’m in the action genre; plus, I just love roughhousing with boys and girls, of course — that’s how I was able to basically keep the tools sharp. Chad, who actually has a credit in this film as well, Lana Wachowski was his mentor. That’s how it’s just one big family. He essentially put a good word in for me saying, “I know what she can do.” He’s trained me with judo and jiu-jitsu for years.

So Lana wanted to hire someone that was either a stunt performer who was also an actress or an actress who could do the action too. Fortunately, I fell into the latter aspect of that. I will never take credit to be a stunt performer because I am not. Those are incredible individuals who work their asses off to get to where they are. So yes, that’s a big clarification. No, I am not a stunt person. However, I am a mixed martial and an actress. So given those credentials, I was able to execute what Lana wanted me to do, which was by far the most physically demanding role I’ve ever had in my entire life.

RELATED: The Matrix Resurrections First Reactions Call It an Ambitious, Meta Love Story

Neo and Trinity with Morpheus and two new characters on Matrix Resurrections poster

Building off that, The Matrix series is really known for its breakout special effects and practical effects. I’m curious how many green screens were used on-set and if they made it more or less demanding to act off of? I’ve heard some actors find them isolating, whereas others love the freedom to imagine a world around them.

Great question. On the contrary, this film is offering on an authentic new interpretation of the matrix. Lana was hell-bent on making everything as practical as possible. What do I mean by that? That means that when you’re running on top of a roof 40 stories off the ground, chased by SWAT helicopters, that is actually happening.

Really? So you’re not running off a little platform and jumping onto a pad?

Really. They are actually doing that. You can see this on Reddit — so I’m not revealing anything that I’ll get in trouble for — you can see two people jumping off a 50 story building in San Francisco, and then being pulled upward repeatedly. That actually happened. So without revealing the particular scene, there is a moment that in my opinion will be one of the most memorable, iconic moments ever caught in cinematic history — given the physical hurdles that were necessary to achieve to make this happen and come to fruition. You have two people jumping off a building at sunrise and there is no green screen and no net. It actually happens.

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CARRIE-ANNE MOSS as Trinity and KEANU REEVES as Neo/Thomas Anderson in The Matrix: Resurrections

Well, now I can’t wait to see this!

My husband was stunt coordinating John Wick 4 over in Berlin, and when I went to go visit him and ironically enough shadow Chad who was directing on set, Lana was doing a friends-and-family screening of The Matrix Resurrections, which was in itself surreal. You’re sitting in a Berlin theater with Keanu, Chad, a handful of people watching the first cut of Matrix 4. That alone was absolutely surreal, and to see these practical moments be caught on screen, it’s a whole other level. It’s almost intuitively you know if it’s real or not.

To really emphasize this fact: there are no tricks. She actually did this. I think I have a few more gray hairs because of it, but it is so worth it. I could retire now, basically, is what I’m saying. [laughs]

RELATED: The Matrix Resurrections Star Spoils Potential Surprise Cameo

If you could break a wishbone and suddenly star in any action franchise or work with any specific fight choreographer/director — like, say, Donnie Yen — who would it be?

My wish would be to continue on my path of producing and directing and be at the helm of my mentors, such as Chad Stahelski within the next couple of years. I feel like I’m on pace to accomplish that.

Well, there are plenty of John Wicks coming out, so maybe we’ll get a chance to see you star in that too!

Thank you. I really appreciate it.

Catch Ellen Hollman’s character reveal in The Matrix Resurrections, now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.

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