Dystopian sci-fi classic The Matrix recently celebrated its 20 year anniversary and it’s safe to say there’s still a viable market for its uber-cool brand of futuristic cyberpunk action. Though talk of a possible reboot at Warner Bros. has somewhat simmered down, there’s still a possibility that the studio is in the process of pursuing a sequel. Nonetheless, a fascinating piece of casting news has recently come to light courtesy of Lorenzo di Bonaventura, a Hollywood mega producer who was instrumental in getting the original 1999 movie off the ground.
Interestingly, when the pic was in early development, key filmmakers – The Wachowskis – found it difficult to get the script into the right people’s hands. Thankfully, di Bonaventura wholeheartedly believed in the project and as a result, the producer pushed for the film to be fast-tracked at Warner Bros. His one caveat, though, was that a major star would be needed to take on the leading role to help get the ball rolling.
As you probably already know, Will Smith famously turned down the part of Neo to instead focus on the critically panned Wild Wild West. However, a lesser known tidbit is that at one point in pre-production, the team were so desperate for an A-lister, that they were willing to gender swap the lead in order to cast Keanu Reeves’ Speed co-star Sandra Bullock as the iconic Neo.
Here’s what di Bonaventura had to say on the matter:
We went out to so many people I don’t remember. We were getting desperate. We went to Sandy 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.
Crazy, huh? Imagine, in another alternate universe, Sandra Bullock is The One dodging bullets, kicking ass and taking sentient AI names. Frankly, I’m glad that Keanu Reeves took on the iconic role in The Matrix, as he fits the part perfectly. Not only did the movie rake in a massive $463 million worldwide at the box office, but it also went on to become one of the most influential sci-fi action flicks in ages. No small feat, right?
But tell us, would’ve you preferred to see Sandra Bullock in the iconic role of Neo? Or did Keanu Reeves nail it? Let us know in the usual place.