Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is a very busy man these days. After his role in Aquaman (2018) and winning an Emmy Award for his role as Doctor Manhattan in HBO’s Watchmen (2019), the actor is shortly going to appear in multiple genre projects, including scifi flick Matrix 4, Aquaman 2, and the cult classic horror film Candyman.
Check out the details Yahya Abdul-Mateen II shared about his projects, including an interesting encounter with Keanu Reeves on the set of the Matrix sequel.
First up is the latest entry to the cyberpunk action franchise, Matrix 4. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was cast in 2019 and the film wrapped production in late 2020. Although details of the plot are still unclear, speculation is that the actor will play a young Morpheus (previously played by Lawrence Fishburne in the first trilogy of Matrix films).
In six years, @Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has secured a spot on Hollywood’s new A-list, a group of actors who have stood out in supporting roles and showcased such range that studios compete for them: “Someone you’re willing to watch for two hours in anything” https://t.co/MnXq0qKtxQ pic.twitter.com/reGUL8WOOU
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) August 11, 2021
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, the actor expressed his surreal experience by acting with Keanu Reeves as Neo on the set of the Matrix 4:
I remember Keanu and his first line. I looked up, and there was Keanu, and I said, ‘Oh shit, I’m really in The Matrix.' It was just Keanu in that voice.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II appears to have been star struck by the screen presence that Keanu Reeves exudes. He continued by giving some idea about the technology being used for the Matrix sequel and how it reflects the current situation in the world. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II praised the application of these new technologies by director Lana Wachowski:
And the technology that Lana incorporated and the filmmaking, camera rigs that I’ve never seen before. It’s so ambitious. It was really interesting to be making The Matrix 4 at a time when the world was so warped and when reality was so distorted. It could creep in a little bit if you let it.
With the first Matrix films being revolutionary for their use of computer generated images for creating modern cinematic action sequences, these comments from the actor certainly look promising. Regardless, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II obviously had an enjoyable experience working on the upcoming sci-fi film.
Matrix 4 will be released in theaters and the HBO Max streaming service on the same day this December 22, 2021.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
The DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. superhero flick Aquaman is probably the film that put Yahya Abdul-Mateen II on the map in terms of Hollywood legitimacy. The James Wan-directed DC Extended Universe movie garnered massive critical and commercial acclaim, earning more than $1 billion in the box office (the only DCEU film to reach the billion dollar club to date).
As classic super-villain Black Manta, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II added a much needed gravitas to a previously one-note character. The character was formerly a one-dimensional antagonist, but Aquaman expanded that to give a greater motivation and connection with the titular hero. However, there had been criticisms that Black Manta’s screen time was too short in the first DCEU Aquaman film, though his interactions with star Jason Momoa was praised.
That oversight will appear to be corrected in the sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II himself expressed how the sequel will be superior to the first:
I think the script is better than it was in the first one. It gives the actors a lot of good storytelling moments. In Aquaman, we just got a small introduction to Black Manta and to some of his motivations. In this one, I get to exercise and breathe a little bit more. I’m showing some different colors with this one.
Filming of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is still ongoing until November 2021, with a projected theatrical release on December 16, 2022.
Another film Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will be appearing in soon is the horror film Candyman. This is actually the second horror film that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has worked with Jordan Peele in. He was also one of the stars in the surprise hit 2019 movie Us.
Shooting in London, so I haven’t got to see any Candyman Billboards in person. If you pass by one, send me a pic so I can share it later!!! LOVE!! pic.twitter.com/VENLKwtWfS
— Yahya Abdul-Mateen 2 (@yahya) July 29, 2021
The actor will be playing the main protagonist, Anthony McCoy, an artist inspired by the Candyman legend. Regarding his role and interest in the Candyman film, the actor had this to say:
I wanted be a leader on set and to tell a story about Chicago and to tell a story about an artist. I knew that I was attached to something that had this really rich history of Black folklore. It’s a story that was so important historically to myself and people from the places that I’m from. I grew up in the projects, and Candyman was also in the projects. So it was really exciting to tell a story about history that I related to.
Candyman has become a cult-classic horror franchise since the first film from 1992 which starred Tony Todd in the role of the supernatural killer who appears if you say his name multiple times in front of a mirror.
According to the official synopsis of the upcoming MGM Studios/Universal Pictures movie:
In present day, a decade after the last of the Cabrini towers were torn down, Anthony and his partner move into a loft in the now gentrified Cabrini. A chance encounter with an old-timer exposes Anthony to the true story behind Candyman. Anxious to use these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, he unknowingly opens a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifying wave of violence.
Candyman had wrapped filming since 2019, but the release had been delayed multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From an initial theatrical release of June 12, 2020, Candyman eventually received a release schedule for August 27, 2021.