Keanu Reeves thinks he’s “very lucky” to get Cast in ‘The Matrix’ as Neo
Whenever we think of The Matrix trilogy, Keanu Reeves immediately comes to our mind as Neo. It is the series that shot him to unprecedented fame. In some ways, the two are synonymous with each other. However, that wasn’t always the case, especially during the movie’s casting. And Keanu Reeves believes that he was in fact “very lucky” to land the role. He revealed that in a Reddit AMA session.
Keanu Reeves explains his luck on landing The Matrix role
Back in 2014 during a Reddit AMA, fans asked Keanu Reeves several questions. Naturally, one of them was about how he got the role in the first place. A fan asked:
How did you come to the role of Neo?
And Keanu started his answer with:
I was very lucky.
Keanu then shared more details of his first meeting with the Wachowskis, writing:
Um, I got a call from my agent, saying that these directors, the Wachowskis, wanted to meet, and they sent me the script, and the script was absolutely amazing, and I went in to meet with them, and they showed me some artwork, of their vision, and an early version of “bullet time,” and it was very exciting and inspiring, and we looked at each other, we ended up hanging out in a parking lot outside the offices just talking and riffing, and we basically just kinda shook hands – they told me they wanted me to train for 4 months prior to filming, and I got a big grin on my face and said: “Yes.“
That’s how it happened.
And that’s how Keanu Reeves ended up as the lead of The Matrix. However, if things had gone differently, it could have been Will Smith instead of Keanu.
Will Smith passed a role on The Matrix
Had it not been for Keanu, the role of Neo could have gone to a number of now high profile actors. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told The Wrap that they offered the role of Neo to Will Smith, Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, and Leonardo DiCaprio too.
And Will Smith passed on the role because he didn’t get a pitch from the Wachowskis. Smith said during an interview on HBO’s The Shop Uninterrupted that the movie was too confusing for him, saying:
We’re gonna create these cameras, we invented these cameras and imagine you could like jump, like in a kung fu move and then you could stop … but then the camera could see all around and then you’d go… We’re gonna invent that.
And so, all of these high-profile actors gave The Matrix a pass. No wonder Keanu Reeves believes he was lucky.
Jada Pinket Smith knew The Matrix was special
Other than Keanu Reeves, Jada Pinket Smith understood the Wachowskis’ vision with what they wanted from The Matrix. And she tried her best to convince Will Smith to do the part of Neo too. However, it was to no avail. She told Vanity Fair:
I was first introduced to it because they wanted Will Smith to play Neo. I remember Will getting the deck for that movie and I’m a comic book fan … freak, right? So I’m looking at this deck and I’m going, ‘Oh my goodness, this is revolutionary. I’m like, Will, you gotta do this movie!’
And Will Smith’s response was a bit underwhelming:
I don’t freakin’ get it.
And her response was:
You don’t get it? They’re gonna try to make an action comic book!
And so, Jada Pinkett Smith couldn’t get the role of Trinity, but still managed to become a part of that iconic franchise. But, importantly, Keanu Reeves got the chance of becoming Neo. And from then on, his career truly blossomed. We hope he makes a sensational comeback in Matrix 4!