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Switch in *The Matrix* - Two Actors?

Movies & TV Asked by Catija on October 22, 2020

Recently I found an article quoting an IMDb Factoid that the character Switch in The Matrix was supposed to be played by two actors, one male and one female:

When Belinda McClory auditioned for the role of “Switch”, she was only going for half the role. The character was originally planned to be played by androgynous actors. In the real world, it would be played by a male actor and in the Matrix be represented in a female form, hence the name “Switch”. Warner Brothers refined the idea and McClory ended up getting a single female role in both environments.

There are a couple of other similar statements but none that I can find cite to any hard sources.

Other sites simply say that Switch is just another reference to computer terminology.

Switch’s name may be a reference to a network switch, or any number of “switches” used in computer technology. Many other Matrix characters’ names reference computer technology, such as “Mouse” and “Link”. The name Switch could also be a reference to her white clothing (‘switched’ from the usual black attire worn by the others).

I’d love to believe the former is true. I think it’s great that Larry/Lana was trying to share herself in a small way from so early in her career. I also think that this would have made for a very interesting added facet to the film (Would Trans people have even existed inside The Matrix?… mind… blown).

I also know that The Wachowskis are well known for being very quiet and reserved, avoiding media and interviews, so finding concrete evidence may be difficult.

I’d love to see if anyone can find some hard evidence and, lacking that, any soft evidence that makes a strong argument one way or the other.

2 Answers

It only took 5 years and 6 months for a source to surface. Lilly Wachowski (formerly known as Andy Wachowski) says, indeed, Switch was supposed to have different genders in the Matrix and Real World in recent NetFlix interview.

She says, among other things:

... we had the character of Switch who was like a character, who'd be like a man in the Real World, and then a woman in the Matrix

It's worth seeing the interview, as she talks about the corporate meddling, but yes, Switch was supposed to be a trans person with a different mental body image that'd represent him/herself as the opposite gender in the Matrix.

As a side note, this question is so old, back then Lilly hadn't come out as transgender woman yet. But the likelihood of the idea grows exponentially when not just one, but both of the creators eventually came to reveal themselves as transgender.

Answered by CyberClaw on October 22, 2020

An original script draft for "The Matrix" from 3 June 1997 was posted on the Russian Science fiction site sfy.iv.ru; it's still accessible via the Internet Wayback Machine.

In the script, Switch is referenced as "a beautiful androgyne", but the pronoun "her" is used to describe the character both inside and outside The Matrix itself.

Sorry, while there is the possibility mentioned in the novelization of the film, and there is fan fiction dependent upon both change of gender and change of race, it appears that the "Switch" character is an androgynous female in both places.

If you want a Wachowski film that has massive amounts of gender switching as a main plot thread, try "Cloud Atlas" instead.

Internet Wayback Machine pointer to script

Answered by Terry on October 22, 2020

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