Carrie-Anne Moss on 'Humans' Season 2, 'The Matrix' Reunion with Keanu Reeves and Technophobia

Humans Season 2 - Carrie-Anne Moss
Carrie-Anne Moss as Dr. Athena Morrow in "Humans" Season 2. The "Matrix" star tells Newsweek that it's no surprise she's taken on another role that questions our relationship with technology. AMC

Eighteen years after The Matrix, Carrie-Anne Moss is once again contemplating existentialism.

The world has changed dramatically since Neo, Trinity and Morpheus rebelled against the Matrix, a simulated reality created by robots to subdue humans and use them as power sources. Directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski's cerebral thriller became a cultural touchstone that continues to confound viewers with questions about the nature of their own reality.

In The Matrix, machines created by man have overtaken humans as the ruling class on Earth and turned them into slaves. Nearly two decades on, Moss says, the film is almost prophetic—an allegory of an increasing reliance on technology and the need to be plugged into technology, such as iPhones, all the time. "I've thought that for years. I've had moments where it's like being in the Matrix," she tells Newsweek.

Human civilization has yet to reach the extreme of a postapocalyptic Earth, but a new swathe of television programs like Humans and Westworld are continuing the conversation about man and technology, particularly humanoids designed to look like us, speak like us and act like us. Both shows depict robots that have been built with consciousness giving them the ability to feel and think for themselves. And both shows prey on fears of what might happen if these sentient machines were to turn on their human creators.

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Moss joins the second season of Humans, co-produced by AMC and the U.K.'s Channel 4, as brilliant scientist Dr. Athena Morrow. Taking on the role, she says, is an extension of the questions she has been asking since The Matrix. "It's never a surprise to me that a job that I'm doing reflects what I'm going through or what I'm thinking about. Playing Athena, I got to [go] even deeper into that conversation."

In Humans, robots, dubbed synthetics or synths, are manufactured and sold as domestic aid appliances. A group of synths, however, are discovered to be conscious. Together, they learn how they came to possess human emotion: a secret piece of coding in their software. The season concluded with them finding the code but deciding against using it to unlock synths worldwide. The second season picks up with one of the conscious synths, Niska (Emily Berrington), going rogue and unleashing the code—leading to synths across the globe suddenly gaining a mind of their own. Meanwhile, Moss's Morrow finds herself intertwined with the story when she joins a large scientific company, Qualia, where she tries to piece together the secret to consciousness herself.

Here, Moss tells Newsweek about joining Humans, the societal impact of The Matrix, her role in Netflix's Marvel universe and her recent reunion with Matrix co-stars Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne.

Newsweek: How does Dr. Athena Morrow fit into the second season of Humans?
Moss: We meet her in the first episode and get a feeling about her. It takes the whole arc of the story to understand what she's all about.

She is asked by this guy, Milo Khoury, who has this company called Qualia to join him [and work on figuring out consciousness]. She's not really interested; he stands for things that aren't in alignment with who she is. But she says yes to working with him, because she has an ulterior motive and it's very personal.

And she's intrigued as well. He's bringing her this possibility that putting consciousness into a synthetic is [viable]. She's been exploring it but it's never been done and she doesn't really buy it. But then she sees what they're doing where he works.

Athena is a formidable scientist, but you see her humanity, because uncovering the key to consciousness could help her ill daughter, as we see early in the season. Comparatively, your Jessica Jones character Jeri Hogarth is also very formidable, but doesn't seem to have that humanity. How do you compare the two characters?

Being someone like Jeri Hogarth, where really she'll do whatever it takes to win...I'm not saying that's a great quality, but wouldn't we all love to be that confident? You try not to judge the characters you're playing. With Jeri Hogarth, her ego just runs the show. Her will is just incredibly strong.

This character, her will has to do with her grief. Her choices have to do with her pain. I kind of imagine she has this routine, her whole day looks the same every day, and it has to look the same every day or I think she'd lose her mind. Her love for her daughter is, like any mother, very deep.

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When The Matrix posited the idea of simulated realities and existentialism 18 years ago, it was almost unthinkable that it could ever happen. Now we live in an advanced world where Siri is pretty close to the consciousness depicted in Humans. How do you reconcile the rapid progression of technology and our attitudes to it?

I think our consciousness as human beings has radically changed. I don't think my mind could have wrapped around what's happening now. I remember hearing back then, through different aspects of my life that I study, spiritual concepts or ideas around consciousnesses and it was like a different language being spoken. I could kind of catch the gist of what they were saying. Now, it all makes sense. It's like my brain's calibrated to a different frequency of understanding concepts.

I look at this time that we're living in right now as challenging. The technology aspect of what we're dealing with—as much as technology is wonderful in so many ways—I am weary of it. I'm not one of those people that needs to have all of the new gadgets, or wants any of that. It's like, the synths in the show, the way that they move, the way they were choreographed...if you think about it and then go out in your life and you see people with their cell phones in their hands, they feel like synths. They're disconnected from themselves and they're in another place while they're walking down the street. I don't think we are that far from being synths ourselves. It's scary.

I have a lot of compassion for young people because they're growing up in this. We don't understand the ramifications of it. I always say to my kids, "The world really needs young people, your generation, to care about the environment, care about each other," and if your head is in your phone all the time you might not notice what needs our attention.

The Matrix came out in 1999 and had a huge cultural, philosophical and even technical impact—innovating "bullet-time" slow motion scenes. The film imagined technological advancements that now exist, or aren't too far away from existing. Do you think it also had an indirect influence on technology?

I don't know. I really don't. I only kind of know my personal exploration. After The Matrix I had my family so I went into this nesting mode. I came out of that nesting mode to a whole new world: How did this all happen while I was caring for little children? I don't know if I was on the ground when all of this was happening.

Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity in The Matrix
Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity in "The Matrix," which made her a household name. Getty Images
You had a reunion with Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne at the John Wick 2 premiere last week. How was that?

That was lovely. The stuntman from The Matrix [Chad Stahelski] directed [John Wick 2], so it was just fun to see a lot of people I spent a lot of time with and support.

Was there any nostalgic reminiscing about your time making the movies?

I think we were more just connecting and checking in. The thing that I felt the most was, has it really been that long? It does not feel like that.

I think the movies do really hold up. I look forward to seeing them again, I haven't seen them in years...I barely remember what they were about.

The pictures of you all together have sparked discussion about whether The Matrix could be revisited in a new movie...

I don't know. That's never crossed my mind. I try not to intellectualize or figure out this business. Who knows? I'm not a powerful producer making movies.

Humans Season 2, Mondays on AMC from February 13. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.K.