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SYFY WIRE The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections: Jonathan Groff talks stunts and smashing Keanu’s head into a wall

"To be given the opportunity to kick a** was so surreal and fun and empowering."

By James Comtois
Jonathan Groff GETTY

Although the details of the character Jonathan Groff (Frozen) plays in The Matrix Resurrections are still under lock and key, a recent interview in Entertainment Weekly does make one thing clear: the new-to-the-franchise star of the upcoming Matrix film is intense. But in a good way. 

Given the nickname of “The Savage” on set, Groff originally had some apprehension about his on-screen fighting abilities. But they all disappeared the instant he showed up to work. "I think any anxiety that I had about fighting, any sort of 'Oh my God, what am I doing here?' energy, I just funneled into my commitment of being able to do it to the best of my ability," Groff told the media outlet. "The minute I set foot on that mat, I was there to throw it down."

The actor who voices Kristoff in Frozen added: "Only vicariously would I have dreamed to be Jennifer Garner in a red wig on Alias kicking ass. To be given the opportunity to kick a** was so surreal and fun and empowering."

Even Neo himself (Keanu Reeves) agrees that the actor has “lots of power." After all, Reeves should know — he engages in some pretty intense fisticuffs in the upcoming sequel (we believe the technical term is “kicky-punchy”). Not to mention, at one point, Groff’s character puts Neo’s head in a wall. 

Recalling the intense scene, Groff explained that he and Reeves rehearsed the fight sequence using “a flat hand.” But when they showed up on set, director Lana Wachowski had something else in mind. "Lana's like, 'If you could do an open palm and put your finger right underneath Keanu's eyeball and then smash his face into the wall, that would be great for camera,'" Groff said. "I look at Keanu and he just gave me the nod, like, 'Go for it.' And the trust! I mean, I have to spin in a circle, slap my hand on his face, and then smash it into the thing. I feel like there's so much love and respect that is swapped in those moments."

All told, Groff said he rehearsed more for one fight sequence in Resurrections than any play he's ever done. And remember — this guy starred in Hamilton. In fact, in working on this film, the actor confessed that Reeves taught him so much about the intensity and intimacy that fight choreography brings to the actors involved. "He taught me so much about the agreement of two people to hit each other but not hurt each other," he said. "It's like making love with someone. When our fight was over, I felt deeply connected to him in a physical way."

Sounds intense. But in a good way.

The Matrix Resurrections follows the white rabbit into theaters and on HBO Max Dec. 22.