'Matrix' Reloads: Gaye in for Aaliyah
by Josh Grossberg
Apr 11, 2002, 10:10 AM PT
Fans wanting to know what's goin' on with the long-awaited sequels to The Matrix need look no further than Nona Gaye.
The daughter of Motown legend Marvin Gaye, who made her feature acting debut in last year's Ali, will replace the late Aaliyah in the role of Zee for The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, a rep for Warner Bros. confirmed Thursday.
Aaliyah had already shot most of Zee's scenes for Reloaded before she was killed in a plane crash last August in the Bahamas.
Fans immediately took to the Net, signing an online petition to Warner Bros. and the franchises' braintrust, cowriters and codirectors Larry and Andy Wachowski, asking that Aaliyah's footage be preserved.
But because the singer-actress had not yet begun filming Revolutions, filmmakers were forced to recast the part, especially since Zee was expected to take on a significant role in the third installment. (Details of the films' plots have been kept under wraps.)
Enter Gaye, a rising starlet who played Muhammad Ali's second wife, Belinda, in director Michael Mann's biopic of the boxing champ. She also happens to be an R&B-soul singer in her own right, having put out an album in 1992 titled Love for the Future.
Gaye is slated to join original cast members Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving in Australia this week to film her scenes.
The news of Gaye's casting should help quell rumors of a Matrix curse that has been spreading around the Web.
Just two months after the death of Aaliyah, production was hindered once again with the passing of another key cast member.
Gloria Foster, who played the spoon-bending grandmotherly Oracle in the original high-tech cyber thriller, died last October of complications from diabetes shortly after completing work on Reloaded.
The African-American actress, like Aaliyah, also had yet to shoot anything for the third film. With sources close to the production telling movie spoiler site Coming Attractions that Foster's character was 'integral' to the series (she was supposed to continue providing key psychic help to Neo & Co.), the Wachowskis have apparently rejiggered the plot to work around her absence.
Reloaded is scheduled to hit theaters on May 23, 2003, while Revolutions is due out the following November.
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