It’s far from the biggest difference between The Matrix and its sequels, but fans going back to watch the film that kickstarted the Matrix trilogy might always have wondered just what happened to Tank.
In the films, the operator of the Nebuchadnezzar died off-screen in between 1999’s The Matrix and 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded. As the first movie ended with Tank being grievously injured, that story tracked with the series’ own internal logic. But that’s not the real story of why Tank actor Marcus Chong didn’t join the rest of the cast of The Matrix for the following two films. In fact, Chong torpedoed his own chances to appear in the following movies in contract negotiations, and has spent the interceding years trying to tell his side of the story, via a little-seen homemade documentary and an even less read book.
Prior to The Matrix, Marcus Chong was an actor on the rise. He had spent most of his life in the entertainment business, appearing in a number of television roles as well as in a range of Hollywood movies. It then seemed that Chong could achieve household name status, or something very close to it, when he landed the role of Tank in The Matrix. But although his performance in the film is memorable enough, Chong’s career hit an incredibly rough patch after the first Matrix wrapped.
In May 2003, the same month The Matrix Reloaded hit theaters, Chong filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros. Pictures claiming that The Matrix directors and franchise creators Lana and Lily Wachowski had breached both written and verbal agreements to bring Tank back for the second and third Matrix movies. According to The Guardian, the actor also alleged that the Wachowskis had published false claims about him being a terrorist, though that hasn’t ever been corroborated.
It appears that the reason for the alleged breaching of these agreements came about after a heated discussion over Chong’s salary for The Matrix. Evidently, Chong wanted much more money than Warner Bros. was willing to pay him for The Matrix Reloaded, which was apparently much less than his fellow actors received. Photographs from the 2003 lawsuit, shown in a documentary Chong himself made, reveal that Warner Bros. offered the actor $400,000 for both Matrix sequels, but Chong wanted to be paid $1 million and receive the same publicity as the film’s stars. Keep watching the video to see the real reason Tank’s character was killed off in The Matrix.
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