There are plenty of iconic movies that changed the way we look at cinema. Titanic, Avatar, Tenet, and Predator are only some of them. However, no list is complete without mentioning The Matrix (1999). Starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Lawrence Fishburne, the film franchise changed the way people looked at movies.
It is the role Keanu Reeves is most known for and also the one that thrust him into fame. However, Reeves wasn’t the first actor who was offered the lead role. Brad Pitt was actually the one courted before him. But he passed on one of the most successful modern films. However, the actor doesn’t believe in regrets due to his unique philosophy.
Brad Pitt Talks About Passing On The Matrix
In 2020, during an interview with Leonardo Maltin, after receiving the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 35th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Brad Pitt was asked about the films he passed on. After much prodding, he revealed only one- The Matrix. However, the star said that he didn’t have any regrets because he believes that if he didn’t get it, then it wasn’t meant for him at all.
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Here’s what the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood star said:
“I did pass on The Matrix. I took the red pill. That’s the only one I’m naming … I wasn’t offered two or three. Only the first one. Just to clarify that. I come from a place, maybe it’s my upbringing, if I didn’t get it, then it wasn’t mine. I really believe [the role] was never mine. It’s not mine. It was someone else’s and they went and made it. I really do believe in that. If we were doing a show on the great movies I’ve passed on, we would need two nights.”
While Pitt didn’t clarify if he was offered the role of Keanu Reeves’ Neo, it’s safe to assume that he was indeed offered the lead role. However, the Fight Club actor has nothing to regret. After all, he has a filmography that’s littered with hits like Ocean’s Eleven, Troy, Inglourious Basterds, Se7en, and more. However, Brad Pitt isn’t the only high-profile actor who turned down The Matrix.
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Did Will Smith Reject The Matrix?
One would think that any actor would have jumped at the chance to act in a movie like The Matrix. However, that’s not the case. Apart from Brad Pitt, another notable Hollywood actor passed on the project- Will Smith. On his YouTube channel, the actor stated that he met the Wachowskis for the role, but didn’t understand what they were trying to say. Smith said:
“After we made Men in Black, the Wachowskis, they came in, and they had only done one movie, I think it was called Bound, and they made a pitch for The Matrix. As it turns out, they’re geniuses, but there’s a fine line in a pitch meeting between a genius and what I experienced in the meeting. This is the actual pitch that they made for The Matrix. ‘Dude, we’re thinking like, imagine you’re in a fight, then you jump, imagine if you could stop jumping in the middle of the jump.’”
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From Smith’s words, it looks like they were trying to make him understand the concept of bullet-time and slow-motion. But he didn’t get it. Smith said:
“I didn’t get it when I read it. It’s a hard movie to pitch. You know: ‘Everybody lives inside a computer.’ It was only when I saw it that I really got it… So I made Wild Wild West [instead]. I’m not proud of it.”
However, the Men in Black actor said that he did everyone a favor by not starring in it because now we have Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishburne in their iconic roles as Neo and Morpheus. Just like Brad Pitt, Will Smith also has nothing to regret because he too boasts of an envious filmography with movies like I, Robot, I Am Legend, Aladdin, and way more. In the end, guess we have to thank Pitt and Smith for giving us Reeves.
The Matrix is streaming on HBO Max.