Twenty years after The Matrix's release, the sci-fi action flick has been heralded as a staple of the genre, having inspired countless scenes in movies and more than the occasional meme. Yet, like with so many things, the eventual legacy of The Matrix could not have been predicted when the film was casting, which may be why it was so hard for directors Lilly and Lana Wachowski, along with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, to find their Neo.
Obviously, Keanu Reeves landed the part, but according to Di Bonaventura's interview with The Wrap, he was far from the first choice. While we know that Will Smith famously turned down the role to do the, umm, less critically acclaimed film Wild, Wild West, a less obvious choice was also up for the part.
"We went to Sandy Bullock and said ‘We’ll change Neo to a girl,'" Di Bonaventura told the outlet. "[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."
Bullock was not interested, and she was hardly the first star to turn down the part: Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio also said 'no, thanks' to the franchise, according to Di Bonaventura's interview.
It's hard to imagine Neo as anyone but Reeves now, but if anyone wants to reboot The Matrix, I wouldn't hate a version of the story where Bullock takes the lead, 20 years after the original offer. If Ocean's 11 can do it, why not offer Bullock that red pill?