The Matrix Almost Had a Different Neo: These 5 Actors Were Almost Offered the Role

Image credit: Legion-Media

The Matrix became a cult classic within months of the first film's release in 1999.

Even though the three sequels that followed were kind of a fly in the ointment, the captivating story of the world as we know it being created by intelligent machines still resonates today. So how do you like the idea that Neo might have looked completely different?

The mere thought that Thomas Anderson, the programmer, could have been played by someone other than Keanu Reeves will make The Matrix fans burst with outrage.

It's scary to imagine what would happen to them if we showed them, one by one, all the people who were actually offered the role of an iconic character!

While Neo was deciding between the red and the blue pill in the film, the Wachowski sisters were agonizing over a candidate for the lead role. At first, they had a very specific person in mind for the role.

Johnny Depp

Yes, that's right, Johnny Depp, Tim Burton's favorite actor, was considered for the role of Neo by the Wachowskis themselves. But Warner Bros. rejected this unusual idea.

Will Smith

Will was considering participating in the project, but decided to pick Wild, Wild West over The Matrix. Well, he could have used his legendary Oscar slapping abilities on Agent Smith instead of poor Chris Rock.

Smith later praised Reeves for his portrayal of Neo, claiming that he himself wouldn't have had the skills to play it that way. He can be nice when he tries!

Leonardo DiCaprio

This option seems to be the funniest of all – as soon as we imagine the narrow black glasses on Leo's cheekbones, a smile creeps across our faces. Maybe DiCaprio was thinking of something like that, but he gave a different reason for his refusal: he said that right after Titanic he did not want to star in another movie that consisted mostly of special effects.

Brad Pitt

What is there to say? It would have been another weird version of The Matrix, but at least we'd probably still had rumors about Cary-Anne Moss and Brad having an affair on the set. Anyway, thanks for saying no.

Nicolas Cage

That would be so horrible that it would probably be beautiful in its own way. Curiously, Nicolas Cage cited family circumstances when he turned down the role that made Keanu Reeves famous.

Perhaps his uncle Francis Ford Coppola advised Nicolas not to get involved, as he had a keen eye for what this movie really needed.