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Moss lady 

Vancouver actor Carrie-Anne Moss has taken to working at home these days. Carsten Knox looks into her post-Matrix itinerary.

It's hard not to envy Australia. Its film industry produces a healthy number of talented performers who go off to Hollywood to become international stars, just like ours do here in Canada. But then Guy Pearce goes home to make The Proposition, Cate Blanchett does Little Fish and Heath Ledger stars in Candy—all antipodean stars whose names, when attached to those projects, got them made. It's been a while since Jim Carrey or Keanu Reeves came home to do a Canadian movie.

And then there's Carrie-Anne Moss.

The 39-year-old Vancouver native became famous for playing Trinity, the black-clad warrior who fought against the machine alongside Reeves in the 1999 science-fiction blockbuster The Matrix and its sequels. In her wraparound shades and full-body latex, she created an iconic and powerful female character, haunting the fevered dreams of fanboys worldwide and adding to the cultural currency of kick-ass cinematic femmes.

Previous to directors Larry and Andy Wachowski's grand opus she was an unknown, having done her time on syndicated television in Canada through the '90s in shows such as Forever Knight, Due South and in Aaron Spelling's Models, Inc.. The Washowskis have said they cast her knowing she would come to the part as a fresh face, freeing the audience from any preconceptions as to her motivations, and Reeves has raved of her confidence in, and commitment to, the role.

With the kind of success and wages pulled working on the mega-million-dollar Matrix movies, she could have retired. Instead, she took a left turn, working with Swedish director Lasse Hallstrom on his Oscar-nominated cinematic confection Chocolat, opposite Juliette Binoche. Hallstrom claims he was largely unaware of Moss' work in The Matrix, he just noticed her talent. She also starred with Pearce in Memento, the startling backwards-narrative thriller from Christoper Nolan—director of Batman Begins and The Prestige—and appeared with Val Kilmer in Red Planet. With the ubiquity of the Matrix-related projects, Moss's visibility and her subsequent opportunities in Hollywood have been many.

But last year, she returned to work in Canada.

"When I work, obviously the material is the first and most important thing, then the director and who I'll be working with. And then the location comes into it. Where is it shooting? Because I have a family that has to uproot to do that with me," she told Vancouver alternative weekly The Georgia Straight. "There are places more appealing to do that than others and Canada is one of the places where I feel comfortable."

Though she still lives in LA, Moss clearly has the inclination to work here and her presence on Snow Cake and Fido helped those movies go from concept to camera.

Snow Cake, the Canada-UK co-production, is an Ontario-shot drama in which Moss co-stars with Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and a host of Canadian talent including Jayne Eastwood, Mark McKinney and Callum Keith Rennie. The story of a man who, though a tragic car accident, becomes involved with an autistic woman in a small town, the film played at the 2006 Atlantic Film Festival and will be released on DVD in June. In Fido, the recent zombie comedy from writer-director Andrew Currie, Moss portrays Helen Robinson, the 1950s suburban housewife who gets a zombie, a model not unlike the ones all her neighbours have. The role of a status-seeking mother and wife who starts to have feelings for her personal undead couldn't be further from Trinity's martial artistry and indicates that though her big break was playing that larger-than-life character in three popular movies, her work since hasn't been limited by association.

Her choices continue to vary: This week Carrie-Anne Moss can be seen in Disturbia, the thriller from DJ Caruso (Taking Lives) where she plays mother to Shia Le Beouf's character, a young man under house arrest who thinks he may be living next to a serial killer.

It's tough to say if Moss's work in Canada is the beginning of a trend of Canadian actors coming back to help out the local film industry after some success in Hollywood. But with both Moss and Sarah Polley back in our ranks, it's a solid and promising start.

Disturbia opens April 13. Click here for movie times.

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Vol 26, No 39
February 21, 2019

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