Brad Pitt Passed on Keanu Reeves' Neo Role in 'The Matrix'

Although 1999 was a big year for Brad Pitt even in our current timeline, there is another timeline in an alternate universe where that year was even bigger for the Once Upon A Time in Hollywood star. In an interview with film historian Leonard Maltin on Wednesday at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Pitt revealed he passed on a role in The Matrix. The 1999 movie Pitt ended up starring in was David Fincher's Fight Club.

"I did pass on The Matrix," Pitt told Maltin at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where he received the Leonard Maltin Modern Master Award, when asked about roles he passed on, reports USA Today. "I took the red pill. That's the only one I'm naming."

Pitt clarified that he was only offered one role in the film, although he would not specify which. He went on to explain why he refused to discuss roles he passed on though.

"I come from a place, maybe it's my upbringing, if I didn't get it, then it wasn't mine," Pitt said. "I really believe (the role) was never mine. It's not mine. It was someone else's and they go and make 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."

Last year, when The Matrix celebrated its 20th anniversary, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told The Wrap Pitt was on the list of actors considered for Keanu Reeves' Neo role. Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio were also considered. Di Bonaventura said they were so desperate they considered turning Neo into a woman and casting Sandra Bullock.

"We went out to so many people I don't remember. We were getting desperate," di Bonaventura 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," he said. "So really it didn't go anywhere."

Di Bonaventura and directors Lilly and Lana Wachowski struggled to convince Warner Bros. to back The Matrix, since the directors had only made one other movie. However, the hard work paid off and The Matrix quickly became one of the most acclaimed and influential science fiction action movies ever made.

Things turned out well for Pitt, even if he did not star in The Matrix. He is considered a frontrunner to finally win his first Oscar for acting after winning the Golden Globe and SAG Award for his supporting role in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.

"It's nights like this that tell me, I'm old," Pitt told Maltin on Wednesday. "I've been around a while. I can't stand night shoots anymore, I'll gladly hand a stunt over to a stuntman. I no longer remember the first rule of Fight Club. But it's also a night where I feel really, really blessed."


The Oscars air live on Sunday, Feb. 9 on ABC.

Photo credit: Michael Tran/Getty Images