Keanu Reeves nearly lost out on his career-defining role in The Matrix to Sandra Bullock.
Landing the part of Neo in The Wachowskis trilogy helped relaunch Keanu as box office gold in 1999, but his Speed co-star Sandra was also in the running to take the lead.
Revealing that the casting team were finding it hard to find their Neo, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who discovered and shepherded The Matrix into production as an executive at Warner Bros., told The Wrap that the sci-fi movies nearly looked totally different.
“We went out to so many people I don’t remember. We were getting desperate,” he recalled. “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.”
Reaching out to the Oscar winner for her The Matrix memories, The Wrap reports that while Sandra doesn’t remember the specifics, she did say Lorenzo has always supported her career, and that ultimately, the part went to the right person.
The Matrix came out in 1999, and won four Oscars at the 2000 Academy Awards. It went on to spawn two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
Keanu and Sandra starred alongside each other for a second time in 2006’s The Lake House.