Matrix producers approached the Bird Box star for the lead role long before they did Keanu Reeves.
In 1999, The Matrix burst into cinemas with its highly-choreographed fight scenes, high sci-fi messages, black leather jackets and tiny Nineties sunglasses. Naturally, the film became an instant pop culture phenomenon and in the years since, its influence on the industry and audiences has endured.
However, 20 years later, it has now been revealed that Keanu Reeves, who plays protagonist Neo, was not producers’ first choice for the role. In fact, they approached many other Hollywood stars before they did the John Wickes star… including none other than Sandra Bullock.
As fans of The Matrix will know already, the film depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality called (you guessed it) the Matrix, created by robots in a bid to control humans while using their bodies as an energy source.
When hacker and computer programmer Neo stumbles across a glitch in the system, he is approached by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who offers him a choice between a red pill that will show him the truth about the Matrix, and a blue pill that will return him to his former life.
Spoiler: Neo chooses the red pill. He wakes up naked, hairless and afraid in a flotation tank, is rescued by other Matrix escapees, and “is drawn into a rebellion against the machines”.
Now, in a new interview with The Wrap, Lorenzo di Bonaventura explained that he and his fellow The Matrix producers initially approached Bullock to play the role of Neo.
“It was pretty simple,” he said. “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.”
Unfortunately, though, Bullock wasn’t all that interested.
“It just wasn’t something for her at the time. So really it didn’t go anywhere.”
Di Bonaventura stressed that there was never any hard feelings between himself and Bullock over her rejection of the role, adding: “[Producer] Joel Silver and I worked with Sandy on Demolition Man and she was and continues to be a very good friend of mine.”
In 2009, Bullock told Today that she turned down an offer to star in The Matrix, although she was careful not to disclose which role she had been approached with.
She said: “There haven’t been any roles that I wanted that I didn’t get, but there was a movie I wish I had done: The Matrix. At the time [I was approached about it], it wasn’t cast with Keanu [Reeves], and I didn’t see myself with the person they wanted [in it].
“Later I saw the movie and loved it. It was sexy and great because of Carrie-Anne [Moss] and Keanu.”
Anyone else suddenly in the mood for a female reboot?