The Matrix is held in great esteem by sci-fi fans. It was thought-provoking, inventive and unique, while still maintaining that overall blockbuster film feel. The original spawned a pair of sequels that are often derided as subpar, though they, too, still have their share of admirers.
Even with the letdown that the sequels turned out to be, the franchise moved into every realm of media. It can be found in everything from comic books to video games and anything else in between. And now, the creators are giving the follow-up game another shot, with a new Matrix film on the way, with many of the original actors returning.
However, knowing that something fresh is coming, it’s hard not to look back and wonder what could have been with the franchise. After all, as with most movies, there was a long production process and casting often goes through many phases.
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In fact, early on in the development of The Matrix, the lead role of Neo, eventually played by Keanu Reeves, was first offered to Will Smith. And apparently, his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, did her best to get him to take the role, with the actress recently stating:
I knew it would be revolutionary. I was like, ‘Will, you’ve got to do this movie!’ He didn’t fully get it, but I did.
Of course, Jada was unsuccessful in her bid to convince the one-time Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to take the part and Smith would go on to star in Wild, Wild West, which is oft derided as one of his worst efforts. Meanwhile, Jada would actually audition for the role of Trinity in The Matrix, though she would lose out to Carrie-Anne Moss.
“I thought Carrie-Anne was the perfect Trinity, and there was no way I could do what she did,” said Pinkett-Smith. “And that’s the only time in my career I’ve said that about losing a role.”
Though she didn’t get the part, she would pop up in the The Matrix franchise later on in the role of Niobe, so she still got to be involved. And while it’s hard to see Jada or her husband as Trinity and Neo, and both admit that they were ultimately the wrong choice, it’s certainly worth wondering what kind of rap song the casting would have inspired.