“Matrix” Actor Sues Studio Over Role

Actor Marcus Chong, who played freedom fighter Tank in the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster The Matrix, is suing Warner Bros. and parent company AOL Time Warner for allegedly backing out on a promise to recast him in the film’s two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.

The lawsuit, filed on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, accuses the studio and the film’s producers of breaching their 1998 oral agreement and a 2000 contract to revive his character Tank and of slandering him, Reuters reports.

The 35-year-old actor claims the filmmakers intentionally published several false statements saying he was terrorist and conspired to blackball him in Hollywood. A fan Web site reportedly posted a bail receipt document showing Chong was arrested on Oct. 18, 2000 for allegedly making threats–five days after his salary negotiations with Warner Bros. broke down.

According to Reuters, industryites said Chong made harassing phone calls to the filmmakers after his salary demands were not met. Consequently, Tank was written out of the sequels and replaced with the character Link, played by Harold Perrineau.

A spokesman for the studio declined to comment on the pending litigation. A spokeswoman for writer/directors Andy and Larry Wachowski also declined to comment.

The Matrix Reloaded cleaned up at the box office with a five-day take of $135.7 million, making it the second-best weekend opening of all time. The mega-hyped actioner also became the highest grossing R-rated film ever and broke the one-day box office record on its formal opening day, with $42.5 million.

In Reloaded, trio Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) continue their battle against the Machines both in and out of the Matrix as mankind has just 72 hours before the Machines destroy the human city of Zion.

The third installment in the trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, opens in theaters nationwide Nov. 5, 2003.