Sandra Bullock could have been The One.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told The Wrap that Warner Bros. insisted on a major star to headline the 1999 film, since director duo the Wachowskis were relatively unproven. He said Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, and Bullock (who'd had a big hit with "Speed" alongside Reeves in 1994) were considered.
“We went out to so many people, I don’t remember. We were getting desperate,” di Bonaventura said. “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.”
He added, "It just wasn’t something for her at the time. So really it didn’t go anywhere."
Bullock told The Wrap (via a representative) that she didn’t recall the pitch for “The Matrix,” but said that the right person was cast in the end.
That wasn't the only role in "The Matrix" she was in line for. In 2009, she told "Today" that she was offered the role of Trinity and regretted not taking it. Carrie-Anne Moss eventually filled it.
"It was sexy and great because of Carrie-Anne and Keanu," Bullock said of the relationship between Trinity and Neo.
Of course, "The Matrix" went on to become a huge hit and spawn two sequels, as well as becoming a major influence in cinema for its use of "bullet time" and martial arts-inflected fight scenes.
Bullock also fared well, going on to star in hits like "Miss Congeniality," "The Proposal," and eventually "The Blind Side," which netted her an Oscar.