When Keanu Reeves started to train to become The One, he wasn’t exactly in the most promising shape. In fact, an article for Entertainment Weekly details how the actor was actually only a few weeks out from having had surgery on a herniated disc. Because of this, he was limited with what he was able to physically accomplish in training, which was no doubt made all the more obvious by the neck brace he had to initially wear.
Despite his injury, he participated in intense training for the film, but according to a Vulture article, there were some limitations to what he was able to initially do. For example, kicking was off the table and was only able to be added back in once the film was already well underway. Vulture explains how this meant that much of the movie’s action needed to happen towards the end of the shoot “to help facilitate [Reeves’] recovery.”
It’s hard to imagine Neo being able to accomplish anything heroic while wearing a neck brace, so it’s extremely impressive that Reeves managed to get through the grueling training process in less-than-optimal shape. Unlike Neo, there was no sparring program for Reeves to casually plug himself into in order to learn a new skill. But his injury wasn’t the only one on set. Both Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving suffered their own problems as well — Weaving hurt his hip and his wrist and broke two ribs and Moss sprained her ankle — proving that life both in and out of the Matrix wasn’t exactly easy. Thankfully though, all three actors recovered and were able to go on to film one of the most important movies of the (almost) 21st century.