Johnny Depp Once Said No to Keanu Reeves' Iconic Franchise and Lost $250M

Johnny Depp Once Said No to Keanu Reeves' Iconic Franchise and Lost $250M
Image credit: Legion-Media/Warner Bros.

Keanu Reeves’s most iconic role was initially supposed to go to Johnny Depp — but the actor refused, losing the chance to star in a cult-classic franchise and $250M along the way.

Keanu Reeves is a legend on more levels than one could count. People adore him for being a top-tier actor, a daring action performer, a wholesome person, and the face of an entire era of the movie industry… And of course, after all these years, Keanu boasts not only the audience’s exceptional love but an incredible track record, too.

Many performances of the actor are considered iconic, and while today, he’s mostly involved with the John Wick franchise, we all still love, respect, and rewatch Keanu’s older movies. Among them all, Reeves’s perhaps most legendary performance stands out: that of Neo in the Wachowskis’ The Matrix movies.

It’s impossible to imagine anyone else breaking out of the Matrix and taking down its evil agents now, but few people know that Keanu Reeves was not the first pick for Neo. In fact, many other A-listers were considered before him, and both Warner Bros. and the Wachowski didn’t even consider hiring Reeves at first.

Initially, the part of Neo was offered to Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Nic Cage — these were the actors that the studio wanted. After they all rejected the offer for various reasons, though, it was the Wachowskis’ turn to pick a candidate — and they went for Johnny Depp immediately since he was their dream Neo actor.

Johnny Depp Once Said No to Keanu Reeves' Iconic Franchise and Lost $250M - image 1

However, Depp was immensely busy with two other projects he was working on at the time: Donnie Brasco and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The actor had to pass on the offer, as well, and in doing so, he also passed up on the potential $250M salary that the next actor enjoyed: it was, of course, Keanu Reeves.

Today, we’re thankful that the entire pack of bigger A-listers decided they were good back then. We can’t imagine anyone but Keanu bringing the same vibes of a zen-cool and at the same time badass Neo to The Matrix. We’re sure that Johnny Depp, for one, would’ve nailed the part — but he would’ve done it differently.

And we’re all too used to the brilliant way Keanu Reeves pulled it off.

Do you think The Matrix with Depp would’ve been better?