Sandra Bullock Was Offered Role Of Neo In The Matrix Before Keanu And We Are Shook
Few news stories and events today are cause for us to stop and process a range of internal emotions before we inevitably carry on with our lives.
But the news following this sentence however, is so shocking and so outrageous that yes, consider today cancelled. Stop what you are doing, rustle up some supplies from your local confectionary store, and then go home and really consider what could have been a reality: Sandra Bullock was offered the role of Neo in The Matrix before Keanu Reeves.
It’s been well documented that Will Smith was once approached about playing the role of Neo, but to see Sandra Bullock standing in…we don’t know what to believe anymore.
The Matrix producer, Lorenzo di Bonaventura revealed to The Wrap that, “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.’”
Bonaventura adds, “[Producer] Joel Silver and I worked with Sandy on Demolition Man and she was and continues to be a very good friend to mine.”
The search for a leading actor was certainly one the studio struggled with. The film and its premise was so obscure and unique that actors struggled to get a hold on it, and consequently producers were left scrambling to cast actors. Di Bonaventura remembers the exhaustive search well, recalling that a major part of it was casting a big name actor that would satisfy Warner Bros.’ vision for the part.
“The first movie star who says yes is Brad Pitt, he’s doing Seven Years in Tibet and then he’s coming out of it and he’s like, ‘I’m way too exhausted to take this on, so he’s gone.”
The search then took them to Leonardo DiCaprio, who dropped out after initially saying “yes” because he didn’t want to take on “another visual effects movie” coming off of Titanic. After Smith, they landed on Sandra Bullock, who told Today in 2009 that she turned down an offer to work on the movie.
“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,” di Bonaventura said. “It just wasn’t something for her at the time. So really it didn’t go anywhere.”
The role of Neo then went to the one and only Keanu Reeves, legendary action star and all-round top bloke.
“I don’t think I would change anything. The bigger the star, the more likely the studio was to say yes. So we started with the very biggest [Fishburne; Weaving; Moss] and got to Keanu and he gave us the momentum,” recalls di Bonaventura.
Any why would you? It’s hard to see Neo acted by anyone other than Reeves now, given that he performed some of the most iconic action sequences in history, having spent a number of months training in the art of wire-fu.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since The Matrix was released in 1999, but in that time the film has endured, largely thanks to effects that see audiences continue to marvel as well as a plot line in which conspiracy theories flourish and individuals are defining for themselves what is and isn’t real which, to be frank, isn’t all that different from the despairs of today’s online culture.
And while Bullock is a phenomenal actress, proving her acting chops in her Oscar-winning role in The Blind Side and Netflix’s Bird Box, we just happen to be loyal to Reeves – always.