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The Iconic Sci-Fi Blockbuster Brad Pitt Regrets Passing On

Brad Pitt is the textbook example of a genuine Hollywood leading man. With his talent, good looks, and star charisma, Pitt has been a big screen mainstay since he broke through with his performance in the Ridley Scott-directed 1991 movie "Thelma & Louise" following a streak of small roles in the 1980s (via IMDb).

Since that auspicious start, Pitt has been propelled into an A-list category, earning an impressive two Oscar awards thus far (via USA Today). Over the course of a career spanning more than 30 years, the award-winning actor has never been shy to dabble in a variety of genres or work with visionary directors. Among the highlights in his resumé: Quentin Tarantino's sprawling trip back to late '60s Los Angeles in "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," Steven Soderbergh's ultra-cool heist flick "Ocean's Eleven," David Fincher's dark Gen X satire "Fight Club," and Bennett Miller's gripping sports drama "Moneyball."

Another notable entry in Pitt's oeuvre is James Gray's 2019 sci-fi epic "Ad Astra," which weaves a complex human drama about survival into its subtext. As evidenced by Rotten Tomatoes, critics agreed Pitt did an excellent job in tackling the science fiction material in a way that felt grounded and polished. Yet, it was a now-famous and highly influential sci-fi movie released 20 years before "Ad Astra" that the star could have added to his impressive resume.

Brad Pitt opened up about passing on The Matrix

In an alternate cinematic universe, Brad Pitt almost donned Neo's iconic black trench coat in 1999's "The Matrix." While speaking at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January 2020 (via NME), he reflected on his choice to pass on "The Matrix." The Oscar winner took a lighthearted yet very mature viewpoint, saying, " I did pass on 'The Matrix.' I took the red pill. [...] 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."

Of course, Pitt is not alone when it comes to passing on this now-famous sci-fi role. Notably, Will Smith turned down the role instead of going with the big-budget "Wild Wild West." During an appearance on HBO's "The Shop: Uninterrupted" (via CheatSheet), Smith said, "Sometimes you say 'no' when you should have said 'yes.'" He went on to express he thought he would have not done well in the role, bluntly stating, "I would have ruined it."

The role of Neo, as well all know well by now, went to Keanu Reeves, who did a most excellent job. However, it's interesting to think how differently things could have been in some eerie encrypted mirror world.