‘The Matrix 4’: Actor Joe Pantoliano Wants to Return as Cypher; Here’s How It Could Happen

Most film historians consider 1999 a watershed year for cinema. Not only did more indie films break into the mainstream, but the scope of what a blockbuster could be began to shift radically. The Matrix — one of the year’s biggest hits — is the perfect example of this. And with the Wachowskis’ film, an Oscar-winning phenomenon was born.

While several of the original film’s stars returned for the sequels, one who did not is Joe Pantoliano. The actor — also known for the Bad Boys series — played the traitorous Cypher in The Matrix. And now he wants the opportunity to return to the role more than 20 years later.

Joe Pantoliano at the 'Bad Boys for Life' premiere
Joe Pantoliano at the ‘Bad Boys for Life’ premiere | Jemal Countess/FilmMagic

‘The Matrix 4’ will feature returning cast members, such as Keanu Reeves

After The Matrix Revolutions in 2003, fans of the franchise believed the story was over. Certainly, the film’s underwhelming box office left a sting of finality to The Matrix series. And for the longest time, it was over. Then in summer 2019, Warner Bros. dropped the surprise announcement that a fourth film was in development.

Lana Wachowski is taking the director’s chair by herself this time. Although the story details are scarce, The Matrix 4 will be based on a screenplay Wachowski wrote with Aleksandar Hemon and Cloud Atlas novelist David Mitchell. And actors like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Priyanka Chopra, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jonathan Groff have already signed on.

But what really made headlines during the film’s announcement was confirmation that Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss would appear as well. Their characters, Neo and Trinity, both perished in the previous film. So, while the returns of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Niobe and Lambert Wilson’s Merovingian fit, Reeves and Moss’ return opens the doors for Pantoliano.

But Joe Pantoliano hasn’t heard about reprising his role as Cypher

In a recent appearance on CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast, the question of Pantoliano’s possible involvement in The Matrix 4 came up. And much to fans’ surprise, the actor said — while he’d love to bring Cypher back — he hasn’t gotten any response from Wachowksi one way or the other.

“Yeah I’d be interested,” Pantoliano told CinemaBlend. “I doubt they’re going to be bringing me back. I’ve lobbied for it, believe me. I’ve sent little notes to Lana and asked her, to no response.”

Because no story details are available, it’s hard to discern whether Pantoliano would even have a part to play. But if the conflict stems from a scheduling issue, he could still take part. After all, production on The Matrix 4 stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic. The film is scheduled for release on May 21, 2021, the same day as Reeves’ John Wick: Chapter 4.

Cypher could still make a brief appearance in an unexpected way

Considering the sci-fi world of The Matrix series, the fourth entry could easily include Pantoliano in any number of ways. In the original film, Cypher made a deal with the machines. So it’s possible they could revive Cypher in whatever manner Reeves and Trinity return. While Cypher failed to finish the job, he did take out most of the Nebuchadnezzar‘s crew.

Perhaps that is enough of a success for the machines to recruit him for a new mission. Or the machines could use Cypher’s visage as the basis for a new program. In The Matrix Revolutions, the Oracle (Mary Alice) assumed a new face, a change necessary due to the death of actress Gloria Foster. The Matrix 4 could use a similar explanation to include Pantoliano.

Fans of The Matrix would certainly love at least a brief appearance by the actor. With the exception of Reeves and Moss, it doesn’t seem like any other actors from the first film will be back. So far, there’s been no official announcement on Laurence Fishburne or Hugo Weaving reprising their respective roles as Morpheus and Agent Smith. But anything is possible.