The Main Reason Salma Hayek Lost Out On Starring In The Matrix

Salma Hayek in Desperado and Carrie Anne Moss in The Matrix

(Image credit: (Sony/Warner Bros))

1999’s The Matrix is one of the most seminal science fiction movies of our time. It gave Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving big roles they’ll always be remembered for. But every iconic movie role starts with an audition, and only so many were offered the pill that takes one into the Matrix. The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard actress Salma Hayek was one of the incredible talents who almost, but didn’t end up in the Wachowskis' movies.

Salma Hayek shared her experience auditioning for The Matrix while on Red Table Talk, hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith. Hayek met the wife of Will Smith while in the final rounds of auditions for the 1999 movie. During the interview, Hayek recalled why she didn’t move forward with the movie:

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.

Salma Hayek was up for Trinity alongside Jada Pinkett Smith. While she got far along enough to work with the stunt trainers on a final round of auditions, Hayek felt she was not in shape enough to pull off what was being asked of her. She continued to share the experience:

I never really went to the gym and they said to me, ‘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.

I mean, in her defense, can you even imagine the training involved to be in The Matrix? Those actors were dodging bullets left and right and running to their heart's content. It sounds grueling. Jada Pinkett Smith didn’t get the role either, but according to Salma Hayek, her audition blew her away. Hayek felt completely unprepared and compared herself against the Girls Trip actress, who she called a “mean, lean, sexy machine” in the audition.

The role of Trinity would ultimately go to Carrie-Anne Moss, but Jada Pinkett Smith certainly made an impression considering she ended up playing the role of Niobe in The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Plus, she’s coming back for the upcoming The Matrix 4. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are also reprising their roles with a load of new cast-mates including Christina Ricci, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.

Salma Hayek would instead go on to star in Wild Wild West with Will Smith, which reportedly led to Smith forgoing the opportunity to play Neo in The Matrix as a result. Brad Pitt also apparently turned down the lead role to star in Fight Club and Nicolas Cage passed on it as well. Either way, we’re happy The Matrix turned out exactly as it did.

Salma Hayek is currently in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, now playing in theaters. Check out what other movies are coming up this year with CinemaBlend’s 2021 movie release schedule.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.