“We went out to so many people I don’t remember. We were getting desperate,” producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told The Wrap on Tuesday, March 26, in celebration of the film’s 20th anniversary. “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.”
However, the Oscar winner, 54, passed on the gig. “It just wasn’t something for her at the time,” di Bonaventura explained. “So really, it didn’t go anywhere.”
Although Bullock turned down the project, she revealed in February 2009 that she wished she gave it a chance. “There haven’t been any roles that I wanted that I didn’t get, but there was a movie I wish I had done: The Matrix,” she told a fan during a Q&A session with InStyle. “At the time [I was approached about it], it wasn’t cast with Keanu and I didn’t see myself with the person they wanted [in it]. Later I saw the movie and loved it. It was sexy and great because of Carrie-Anne [Moss] and Keanu.”
Before Reeves, 54, earned the role, he costarred alongside Bullock in Speed just five years earlier and the duo became close friends. “I think about Keanu Reeves and how handsome he was,” the Bird Box actress told Ellen DeGeneres in December 2018 of crushing on the John Wick star. “It was hard for me to be serious!”
But despite Bullock’s affection for Reeves, the duo “never dated.” She joked to DeGeneres, 61, “There’s something about me that I guess he didn’t like. I think we were probably friends for [so] long because we didn’t.”
The Matrix celebrates its 20th anniversary on Sunday, March 31.
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