In anticipation of the release of the sci-fi action franchise continuation, The Matrix Resurrections, we’re getting some insights from one of the film’s stars about the very different casting of the original film we almost got instead of Keanu Reeves’ Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss’ Trinity.
Actor Jada Pinkett Smith, who is returning as a considerably older version of Niobe — via Hollywood effects make up to make her character appear even more wizened than Neo — is recalling the time she got a very early sneak peek at the 1999 original The Matrix, despite not appearing in the franchise until the second film, The Matrix Reloaded.
During an IGN-hosted “green carpet” premiere event in San Francisco Saturday, Pinkett Smith was asked about the very first time she ever came across The Matrix. It turns out that moment was before the movie even went into production, let alone anybody seeing it in theaters.
She explained that early on, the filmmakers were attempting to recruit Pinkett Smith’s husband, movie star Will Smith, to play Neo. Hence, they were given the original storyboards to look over for the groundbreaking first film in the franchise.
“So we had the original storyboards and I was like, this is amazing! This is Japanese anime live-action. I was like, if they can pull this off, this is beyond beyond,” Pinkett Smith said. “And I mean, the storyboards were incredible! Right. And so that was my first experience.”
Pinkett Smith went on to say that she was so gung-ho about the project, she even auditioned early on for one of the first film’s most iconic roles.
“I auditioned for Trinity. Of course the best lady got it, Carrie-Anne is the best in the whole wide world as Trinity, but I’m glad that they remembered me for Niobe.”
What a wild alternative reality it must be for the first Matrix movie starring Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith as the lead roles.
As for Pinkett Smith’s Niobe, we’ll have to see what kind of role the returning character will fulfil for the action film centred around people trying to escape a simulated reality run by malevolent artificial intelligence overlords when The Matrix Resurrections comes to theaters and HBO Max on Dec. 22.