(Anakin McFly:) A highly private person who prefers solitude and isn't too comfortable in social situations. They make him feel self-conscious - he can be easily embarrassed - and besides he'd rather be around his computer engaged in illegal activities. He usually keeps his thoughts to himself; in the exceptions, he withdraws even more after outbursts of emotion. His grief is private; he wishes not to burden others with his own problems.
Neo is a quiet rebel against things he deems unimportant. His day job is just something he does either for a steady salary, out of habit, or as a cover. That life is otherwise ignored; the only life he really cares about is the one where he goes by the name of Neo, because that life and that identity is his own creation and thus under his full control. He likes that.
He is a reluctant leader and unwilling saviour, but at the same time knows his duty and will carry it out if he believes in it. He is determined and not easily swayed by others once he has made up his mind. He plans ahead.
He dislikes change or any kind of shock to his perceived notion of how the universe works. Most of his life was spent with the feeling that things were not quite right. He didn't know why, and he didn't like it. When he asks questions, the purpose isn't so much to learn more, but more for the ability to re-assort the very confusing universe back into convenient and predictable little boxes that make sense.
He is human. He has his doubts, he doesn't have all the answers, and what he wants more than anything else is for people to tell him what's going on. He has so many people expecting him to be something special, but he himself doesn't think he is special and has to deal with all these expectations he doesn't think himself capable of fulfilling. He is afraid that he might let them all down. The best leaders are those who think themselves unsuited for the job, and that is Neo.
He needed time before he could come to accept the part he was meant to play. There needed to be no epiphany. It was a gradual learning process that had carried on throughout the film as Neo grew to better understand himself and his place in the greater story, and only in the end did he come to finally believe in himself and be the hero that everyone saw him as.
Meanwhile, his expressions are marked with an almost perpetual undercurrent of stress. Neo takes everything too seriously and really needs to lighten up.
(Keanu Reeves:) Neo is trying to figure out his life. He feels something is wrong. He doesn't trust what's around him, so he removes himself from the world and is seeking his answers monastically. The question is: What is the Matrix? My character feels that the answer to this question will somehow make sense of his life. He's always asking questions, always searching for truth. He's searching for his life. He's the medium, and I think that it poses good questions about our lives. What are your choices? Do you want to stay in the rabbit hole? Do you want to get out? 'What truth?' is a good question and trying to understand one's life and the choices that you make, and you can go to sleep, and then wake up. I mean, I think that he goes to sleep, and wakes up in the film, I think, like seven times.
I love the character mostly because he's a seeking, questioning guy. In the first movie, he jumps right in and takes the red pill because he wants to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. It's a quality I admire. And for that, I find him noble. He doesn't want an external philosophy. He rejects fate; he does not want someone else's destiny. Neo wants his own life and his own thoughts, and he wants to see the truth for himself. In the end, my character is looking for peace.
I think Neo rejects the idea of destiny. He believes that he's investigating his life. And he makes personal choices, privileging love. I like that he's a man who, in the Matrix, has this superhuman ability but also has this incredible responsibility. And in "Reloaded" you'll see that he also has empathy for the machine entities.
I really find that Neo is a beautiful man. His ethics and his morals and his search for his authentic life and how he deals with people and he deals with himself, I really admire. I really love his love for Trinity. He's a strong, positive, moral man he's doing the best he can, so in terms of playing him, he's a better man than me, but I try!
[Neo is] a lightning rod, a searcher and a witness. In acting out his quest, Neo makes himself available as a conduit for a very powerful energy force, which translates into these extraordinary powers.
What [Neo] can do in the Matrix is not enough. He's still on the path of discovery and choice. He's told by the Oracle that he hasn't got a destiny. It's the choices that he'll have to make that will affect the survival of the human race. He wanted to find out where and who he was. Now he knows. Or he thinks he does. That's one of the questions. Neo discovers that he's really some sort of mathematical and metaphysical probability. Beyond that, I don't think that's addressed in the story. But his role is pretty clear - to bring down the machines and save the human race. And he has to make hard choices along the way. He isn't a case of one-dimensional heroism, because his fears make him human. Neo has a bit of a sense of humor now, which I like a lot.
Neo just wants to hang out with Trinity, make love, and have babies. Live a life, you know? I always said that to the Wachowski brothers. Because he set aside his life, and the act of that is part of the hero journey: the discovery of self, and sacrifice for the restitution of community. It's sort of the classical hero definition.
It's the journey of self, I guess. You start with this kind of loner, outside guy, which a lot of people can relate to, and he goes out into the world. He falls in love, he has self-doubt, he's questioning the truth, reality. He's got great bravery about him, I think. He's his own person. He's not a fool. There's a strength about him, but a vulnerability about him at the same time. I like him. I really enjoyed playing him. He's a very honorable guy.
If Neo would be in a room with me, then we would probably be the most different people you could imagine. Neo surely is a lot smarter than I am. And he has a mission, he wants to change the world. He is more decided than I am. And I think he's more curious. He has to see his quest to the end, where it leads to, whatever it takes. That’s why I love Neo. He wants peace and he’s willing to do anything for it.
In the beginning of Reloaded, Neo is full of fear about what he has to do and the responsibilities that the community is asking for. But I don't think that he's a reluctant hero. He has accepted it, but I don't think he has accepted it without question. Neo is trying to find out, 'What is my life?' He's not just taking it as, 'Oh, OK, I'm going to have to make this choice.' He says, 'What if I fail?'
Those questions you have are also strongly Neo's questions such as: Do you believe in fate? Why not? I'm not in control of my own life. That whole thing of asking those questions I think is Neo's journey and it was fun to ask them. I have a feeling about what Neo wants and the brothers had a feeling, so in the second one in an odd way I think they kind of invert what happened. In the first one, Thomas Anderson became Neo; his digital self became his real self and his fear of flying became him flying and there's a certain aspect in Reloaded where the hero gets inverted and we're back to Neo as Thomas Anderson. We see his fears, his personal kind of hopes and his vulnerabilities
I think Neo likes it a lot - being able to fly. It takes his mind off things.