IMDB and other sources assert that the character of Switch was intended to be female inside The Matrix but male outside in the real world, and that this concept was later refined and/or blocked by the studio.

When Belinda McClory auditioned for the role of "Switch", she was only going for half the role. The character was originally planned to be played by androgynous actors. In the real world, it would be played by a male actor and in the Matrix be represented in a female form, hence the name "Switch". Warner Brothers refined the idea and McClory ended up getting a single female role in both environments.

Is there any primary evidence (e.g. an interview with either the makers of the film or the actress who portrayed Switch) that this is the case?

  • 4
    Many thanks to Mithical for transcribing the recent video from Lilly Wachowski. I will provide an additional 1000 rep bounty for any primary source that pre-dates this video.
    – Valorum
    Aug 5 '20 at 12:16
  • 3
    Related: Switch in The Matrix - Two Actors?
    – TARS
    Aug 5 '20 at 20:20
  • 3
    You should clarify what your question is. Switch was almost certainly intended to be a single gender. If the quote is to be believed, Switch in the Matrix was to be female gender played by a woman, and in the real world female gender played by a man. Compare to the show Transparent, which has the character Maura who is female gender, but played by a man. If Maura were played by a man pre-transition but a woman post-transition, the character would be the same gender throughout. Aug 5 '20 at 23:54
  • 2
    @Acccumulation While your suggestion is possible, I don't read that from the quote, I think it's compatible with the expression of male gender outside of the Matrix, and female inside. Do you have more info? Aug 6 '20 at 15:58
  • 3
    @computercarguy The concept didn't make it into the film. Aug 6 '20 at 16:48

Lilly Wachowski states in this video by the Netflix Film Club, at around 2:00:

And so we had the character of Switch, who was like, a character who would be, you know a man in the real world and then a woman in the Matrix, and, you know, that's both where our headspaces were.

And a minute earlier (~0:58), about the studio blocking it, she says (in the context of the movie being about being trans in general):

I'm glad that it has gotten out that, um, that was original intention, but, the world wasn't quite ready yet [...] the corporate world wasn't ready for it...

  • Keanu confirms; This awakening may have been an unspoken part of The Matrix since the beginning; Reeves remembers an early draft of the original script that featured a character who entered the Matrix world as a different sex. "I think the studio wasn't ready for that," he says. - ew.com/movies/…
    – Valorum
    13 hours ago

According to the script, Switch is an androgynous female.

A large black man named APOC is driving. Beside him is a beautiful androgyne called SWITCH, aiming a large gun at Neo.

Who is referred to as "she" seemingly both inside and outside the Matrix.

He laughs, his hand sliding around the neck of Switch as he takes hold of her plug.

CYPHER: Welcome to the real world, eh, baby?

She suddenly feels her body severed from her mind as she is murdered.

Now it is quite possible the script was written this way because "corporate" was already involved and the decision to make Switch transgender was already taken from Wachowski's hands.

Also this is not to say someone who identifies as or is physically male cannot use "she" pronouns, (or vice versa) although that would have been an odd choice for a script in my simple opinion.

  • As far as I'm aware, this is the earliest script available. That's not to say that there wasn't studio involvment prior to this
    – Valorum
    Aug 5 '20 at 13:45
  • 11
    If Switch was transgender, it's entirely possible that surgical/hormonal treatments weren't readily available in Zion (or even something they'd consider putting resources into) and so would physically present as male even if referred to by female pronouns. Aug 5 '20 at 20:03
  • 5
    Also, the shooting script would have been finalized after everyone had been cast, and with a woman playing the role they would have adjusted the script accordingly. A good example is the script for Alien: it was famously written as gender-neutral so any role could have been a man or a woman cast in it, but when it came to the final shooting script, after casting, Lambert and Ripley were specifically identified as women, the rest men, and the appropriate pronouns then used throughout. Aug 5 '20 at 22:03
  • 1
    The quoted passage says that Switch was originally planned to be played by a male actor outside of the Matrix. The OP has summarized that as that the character would be male outside of the Matrix, which is not the same thing. Your answer doesn't address the former. Aug 5 '20 at 23:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.