'Matrix' Actor Sues Studio for Slander

updated 05/20/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/20/2003 3:24PM

"The Matrix Reloaded" isn't a hit for everybody.

Actor Marcus Chong, who appeared as Tank in 1999's original "The Matrix," is suing the makers of the film series, claiming they reneged on a promise to recast him as a freedom fighter in the sci-fi thriller's two sequels, reports Reuters.

In legal papers filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Chong, 35, accuses Warner Bros., as well as the film's producers, of breaching their 1998 oral agreement and a 2000 contract to revive his character in the two sequels ("The Matrix Revolutions" is due for release this November) and of slandering him to the point of blackballing him in Hollywood.

In his documents, Chong -- whose previous credits include the role of black revolutionary Huey Newton in 1995's "Panther" -- asserts that the "Matrix" filmmakers went about "intentionally publishing numerous false statements ... that he was a terrorist."

As pointed out by Reuters, receipt for bail is posted on a fan Web site that reveals that Chong was arrested on Oct. 18, 2000 (reportedly five days after his salary negotiations with the studio collapsed), for allegedly making threats.

Tank was subsequently written out of the sequels and replaced with a character named Link (played by Harold Perrineau Jr.).

A spokesman for Warner Bros. (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner) and a representative for "Matrix" writer-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski declined to comment on the matter.

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