In the Matrix, Cypher's real name (as revealed by the Agent he is dealing with) is Mr. Reagan. Is this intended as an intentional reference to former actor and former President Ronald Reagan?

For one thing, Cypher claims he wants to be someone important, "like an actor". Reagan, obviously, was not only an actor, but President of the United States. Even more interesting, Cypher is a traitor to his companions from Zion, giving the Agents information in return for being plugged back in. During the Cold War, Ronald Reagan provided information to the FBI on fellow actors he believed to be communists.

How much, if any, of Cypher's character was intended as a reference to Ronald Reagan? Have the Wachowskis ever addressed these similarities?

  • 1
    I don't see the 'connection' (Cypher character ↔ Ronald Reagan) you are trying to connect.. Jul 27, 2016 at 2:33
  • Can you imagine that it wasn't intentional? Not to mention a commentary on the state of public life that actors are considered "someone important" as opposed to simply being someone notable. Jul 27, 2016 at 3:29
  • "Reagan" could have been an alias.
    – RichS
    Jan 16, 2017 at 3:21
  • Reagan also "forgot everything" in later stages of his office as Prez. Anyone who watched that movie in 90s either thought "so Cypher will be back as Reagan in some simulation" or "Mr. Smith is making a good joke on a dime here" (but then Reagan must exist as common reference between Cypher and Smith). Dec 15, 2020 at 14:44

1 Answer 1


The actor who portrayed Cypher, Joey Pantoliano spoke about the reference to his being made "an actor" after being returned to the Matrix. He explictly states in the interview below that the Wachowskis wrote that line to reflect his own life and that the actor they're referring to is, in fact, himself.

But the truth is that he’s got such a seductive choice. He says that he doesn’t want to remember anything. “I don’t want to remember anything,” he says. “I want to come back as somebody famous…like an actor.” An actor is the most benign thing — it is the biggest joke in the world. When the Wachowski’s were writing that line, they were talking about Joey Pantoliano because they knew me so well and they knew that I’ve led a blissful existence. I’ve been so fuckin’ lucky.

An interview with Joe Pantoliano

  • There was a better answer that was erased, don`t know why.
    – Feuergeist
    Mar 3, 2017 at 21:10
  • @Feuergeist - The main thesis of that deleted answer was a link to a wikipedia reference to his character being based on Ronald Reagan. When it was pointed out to them that this on the say-so of a single user with no connection to the film, they chose (rightly) to delete it.
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2017 at 21:14
  • 1
    @Feuergeist - Per my earlier comment; "I've reluctantly downvoted. The article you've quoted (and the reference to Ronald Reagan) was added by a single user without any attribution or references; en.wikipedia.org/w/…. On the off-chance that they had a connection to the film, I checked their history. Their sole other contribution to wikipedia is a minor edit to a drummer's biography."
    – Valorum
    Mar 3, 2017 at 21:15

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