entertainment

'The Matrix' turns 20: A look back

By CNN staff

Published March 29, 2019

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Yes, it's true. We first met Neo, Trinity, Morpheus and the gang 20 whole years ago.

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"The Matrix" changed so much about modern movies, even on the foundation of a familiar story about a reluctant hero discovering reservoirs of strength he didn't know he had while battling both his own doubts and a terrifying, mystifying evil.

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… from popularizing the time-slowing filmmaking concept of "bullet time"

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… to wire work that made the characters seem like they could fly, fight scenes and even the much-discussed gun displays that revolutionized how such things would look in the movies forevermore. And, of course, nobody's ever been cooler in an all-black ensemble than Keanu Reeves.

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"The Matrix" also was a breakout film for Carrie-Ann Moss, whose tough, smart and elegant Trinity provided the DNA for women action stars to come.

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Joe Pantoliano, whose memorable Cypher takes a heel turn in the film, reportedly spoke kindly of his disillusioned character, whom he is said to have generously described as "very human."

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But did you know ... ?

Reeves wasn't the first choice for the role of Neo? One early possibility was Will Smith. He says something about the way the movie was pitched to him didn't sound right, so he chose to do "Wild Wild West" instead because he thought it was the more likely hit. Oops.

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Reports also indicate that Reeves' "Speed" castmate Sandra Bullock was under consideration for the role, too

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… and imagine Morpheus without the rich, resonant baritone and gravitas of Laurence Fishburne. The role was once linked to Val Kilmer.

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The boundary-breaking film was just the second movie by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, sisters from Chicago. With its two sequels, "The Matrix" series has made more than $1.6 billion, according to IMDB.

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