‘It’s never been easier to make art’: why Matrix star Jessica Henwick filmed her directorial debut with a camera
Henwick explains that part of the appeal by making Bus girl the way she did it is that the completed short is proof that anyone with access to a smartphone can make a serious movie. “It’s fast and it’s small. When we filmed the camera was going through shelves, between pans, around people – a normal camera couldn’t have done it, but the phone could. Add to that the fact that Xiaomi’s HyperCharge technology meant phones could be recharged in 10 minutes, and Henwick had the ultimate tool for versatile movie making. “That’s the beauty of technology these days: anyone can be a filmmaker. It has never been easier to make art. It encourages more diverse stories from different backgrounds, classes and cultures. It’s an incredible step forward in the search for new directors.
Henwick, who grew up in Surrey, knew she wanted to be an actress when she started attending a theater club around the age of 12, and the idea to direct came soon after. “I don’t really like to separate him. Whether I’m telling a story with my body and face, or telling this story in words, or telling this story in pictures, I think it’s kind of the same. Her father is a novelist, and Henwick, long before she wrote the shorts and TV series she is currently working on (she has an optional miniseries by Emu Films), would write Harry potter teenage fan fiction. “I’m a 90s kid,” she laughs. “What was I supposed to write? “
She learned from the best in the business. As Bugs, a new character introduced in Matrix resurrections, Henwick spent days working with exalted gun-fu director Lana Wachowski, soaking up the beats and rhythms of Wachowski’s cinematic practice directly. “Lana hates cutting. She’ll run takes almost every time, so we’re going 20 minutes before she screams cut out. I like it – I like to keep the energy and just go, go, go, go, go.
Of course, information on the specifics of Matrix resurrections Beyond what has been revealed in the trailer so far, he’s more closely watched than one of Morpheus’ little red pills. When henwick laughs GQ suggests that Bugs – who in the trailer appears to bring Neo back to the Matrix – could play a role similar to Morpheus in the original Matrix trilogy. “Everyone is projecting so much on Bugs. I’ve had reporters saying to me, “She looks like the new Trinity” and then others like “She’s the new Neo”. It is not. She is her own new creation. But I see what they mean, in that she wants to bring Neo back, and she’s very smart.
“She knows the legend of The Matrix. She knows the legend of Neo. She heard the stories. She believes they are real.
Henwick is equally excited about the other restart of the major franchise in which she is involved. In the English version of Blade Runner: Black Lotus, a spin-off anime set in the Blade runner universe, she voices the main character Elle, a replicant walking the rainy neon streets of Los Angeles in 2032. As the new one Matrix, details are somewhat slim on the pitch when we speak ahead of the series’ debut, but it’s clear fans can expect a lot of cyberpunk action from the series, as well as a deeply engaged performance from Henwick: She’s spent the last two years developing the role and, from time to time, commenting on the scripts. “I feel like I participated in the creation of Elle and really helped shape her voice. I am really proud to be part of the Blade runner franchise, as there was no sign that they were going to reopen it until, obviously, Denis [Villeneuve] came with [to direct the 2017 film Blade Runner 2049]. It sounded like one of those cult classics that would never have a sequel or fallout. “