Brad Pitt reveals that he turned down 'The Matrix'

Brad Pitt attends the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Maltin Modern Master Award on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2020, in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Brad Pitt at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (Credit: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

It's not only Will Smith who laments turning down the role of Neo in The Matrix.

It appears that Brad Pitt was offered the part, but decided, like Smith, that he didn't want to go down the rabbit hole.

Pitt was taking part in a career retrospective interview at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival when he dropped the bombshell.

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“I did pass on The Matrix,” he told the audience (via USA Today). “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 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.”

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix (Credit: Warner Bros)
Keanu Reeves in The Matrix (Credit: Warner Bros)

The role was, of course, embodied by Keanu Reeves, who then experienced something of a career renaissance, after a middling period of movies following 1994's Speed.

Famously, Will Smith turned the movie down to make the box office bomb Wild Wild West, but he said last year that his initial meeting with sibling directors the Wachowskis did not go well.

“So after we made Men in Black, the Wachowskis, they came in and they had only done one movie. I think that movie was called Bound. And they came in and made a pitch for The Matrix,” he said.

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“And as it turns out, they’re geniuses! But there’s a fine line in a pitch meeting between genius and what I experienced in the meeting.”

Nicolas Cage also turned down the role (citing family obligations), while Val Kilmer was once in the frame too.

In the end, Reeves won the role over Johnny Depp, and the rest is bullet-time history.

Reeves is set to reprise the role in the currently unsuffixed Matrix 4, currently in production.

Carrie-Anne Moss is also returning as Trinity, with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, and Neil Patrick Harris also on the bill.

It's due for release in May, 2021.