Brad Pitt Reveals Which Major Movie Role He Turned Down

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Brad Pitt is one of the biggest names in all of entertainment and is coming off award show win after win for his role as Cliff Booth in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. His lengthy career and award-winning performances recently won him the Leonard Maltin Modern Master Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where took to the stage to speak with Maltin himself. In the interview, Pitt revealed a major movie role he turned down in the past, one that had been offered to a handful of others before being officially given to Keanu Reeves, as reported by USA Today.

Pitt admitted to turning down the role of Neo in The Matrix. While he never specifically names Neo as the role he was offered, it was rather evident in his statement.

“I did pass on The Matrix. 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,” Pitt told Maltin. “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.”

Brad Pitt at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Brad Pitt discusses passing on 'The Matrix' role with Leonard Maltin.Featured image credit: Matt WinkelmeyerGetty Images

The list of others who reportedly turned down the role of Neo in the iconic action trilogy include Nicholas Cage, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Johnny Depp. Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, David Duchovny, and Brandon Lee were also rumored to be thrown around in casting, as was Sandra Bullock. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura noted that they considered making Neo a woman at one point, just for Bullock specifically, but it wasn’t a project the actress was ultimately interested in.

There’s likely a plethora of other major roles Pitt has turned down over his decades-long career as an actor, but he only felt compelled enough to give up The Matrix as one he waved on. According to CinemaBlend, Pitt almost starred in blockbusters and cult-classics like The Bourne Identity, Almost Famous, Apollo 13, Sleepy Hollow, American Psycho, and The Shawshank Redemption, to name a few. The actor has yet to confirm if he did indeed pass up on roles in those films.

As far as future roles for Pitt, the actor currently has two rumored movies coming up. He is rumored to star in Babylon — the next project from Damien Chazelle — alongside Emma Stone, and possibly make a sequel to World War Z.

He is currently nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, an award he is likely to take home. Pitt has previously been nominated for acting roles in Moneyball, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and 12 Monkeys. His only Oscar win comes from 2013’s 12 Years A Slave, where he served as a producer. The film took home the award for Best Picture of the Year.