The Matrix series is full of iconic moments and characters, with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss considered by most to have been perfectly cast as digital superheroes Neo and Trinity. However, the legendary sci-fi film could have been very different, with actor Salma Hayek revealing that she was once in the running to play Trinity.
It’s well known that Will Smith was the original first choice for Neo, but he turned down the role to do Wild Wild West. In fact, Reeves wasn’t even the second or third choice. Nicholas Cage also rejected the film. The Wachowskis wanted Johnny Depp, but Warner Bros. preferring either Brad Pitt or Val Kilmer.
The role of Trinity was just as up in the air, with singer Janet Jackson being the first approached to take on the part of the computer programmer and hacker who escaped the Matrix. However, scheduling conflicts prevented Jackson from taking the role, and the Wachowskis were forced to cast a wider net.
Salma Hayek, Jada Pinkett Smith, Carrie-Anne Moss and one more were in the running for The Matrix
Speaking on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk, Salma Hayek revealed that she and Smith had both been in contention for the role, meeting as two of the four finalists.
Hayek and Smith were both brought to screen tests and auditions, with both being put through their physical paces for the demanding part; anyone who’s seen The Matrix knows there’s a lot of wire work and kung fu involved. Hayek said that while she is “flexible and agile,” she’s also “lazy” and was horrified with the trials.
We’d jumped through many hurdles, screen testing, and many auditions. They brought these stunt coordinators from Asia. It was the physical test. I’m flexible and agile, but I’m lazy. They said, ‘You have to run!’ I go, ‘To where?’ I couldn’t even go around the room once…they never called me again after that day.
The physical demands of the Trinity role also made Carrie-Anne Moss wary; she said on the 2001 DVD release of The Matrix that she initially didn’t believe herself capable of the extreme acrobatic maneuvers demanded by the script, but obviously she got there.
In the end, Reeves and Moss went on to star in two sequels, with a third as yet untitled film on the way. The new movie was initially scheduled for release this coming holiday season but has since been pushed back to April 2022, thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Jada Pinkett Smith would also find success with the original trilogy, starring as Niobe in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, a role specially written for her by the Wachowskis. Despite losing out on the part of Trinity, Smith thinks it worked out: “I always tell Carrie-Ann that she was perfect for that one.”