Search icon

Movies & TV

27th Mar 2019

The Matrix filmmakers reveal that Sandra Bullock almost played Neo before Keanu Reeves was cast

Rory Cashin

the matrix

The sci-fi classic turns 20 years old this week.

We already knew about the “original casting choices” that apparently had been floated around Hollywood for the The Matrix, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week.

Neo was to be played by Will Smith (who chose Wild Wild West instead), and Morpheus was to be played by Sean Connery (who chose Entrapment instead).

Instead, we got Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fisburne, and movie history was promptly made.

Actually, Reeves wasn’t even the film-makers’ second choice, as the role was also offered to Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Nic Cage, Val Kilmer and Brad Pitt, but the majority of them turned it down because they simply didn’t understand the script.

And now, 20 years on from the movie’s premiere on 31 March 1999, the movie’s makers admit that the role was almost entirely rewritten to get a famous actress on board.

Lorenzo di Bonaventura, producer and advocate for the movie to be made within Warner Brothers back in the day, told The Wrap the following:

“We went out to so many people I don’t remember. We were getting desperate. We went to Sandra Bullock and said ‘We’ll change Neo to a girl.’ [Producer] Joel Silver and I worked with Sandy on Demolition Man and she was and continues to be a very good friend of mine.

“It was pretty simple. We sent her the script to see if she was interested in it. And if she was interested in it we would try to make the change. It just wasn’t something for her at the time. So really it didn’t go anywhere.”

Yep, the role of Neo almost went to another Speed actor.

Bullock told The Wrap via a representative that she doesn’t remember the exact details of being offered the Neo role, but feels that ultimately the right person was cast.

The Matrix went on to become a huge success (ignore the sequels!), and Sandra Bullock went on to win an Oscar and got her own sci-fi epic with Gravity.

These things have a way of working themselves out…

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge