Brad Pitt Talks the Time He ‘Did Pass’ on ‘The Matrix’ and His Iconic Roles at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Show, Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, USA - 19 Jan 2020 Brad Pitt - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role - Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 19 Jan 2020
Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutterstock

Brad Pitt has been on a victory lap this awards season. Pitt has won nearly every major award for his Academy Award-nominated role as stuntman Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, giving him the chance to give entertaining speeches and reflect on the journey he’s taken through his lengthy career.

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Pitt’s latest stop on the tour was at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where he was honored with the Leonard Maltin Modern Master Award. As part of the celebration, Pitt had an on-stage conversation with Maltin and gave a speech, talking about some of his iconic roles from his career, as well as some of the iconic roles he’s passed on, including for The Matrix.

“I did pass on ‘The Matrix,'” Pitt said during the conversation, according to USA Today. “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.”

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Pitt wasn’t the only top-line actor to miss out on The Matrix: As producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said last year, Sandra Bullock, Will Smith, and Pitt’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood co-star Leonardo DiCaprio all were considered for the role before it went to Keanu Reeves. The John Wick star is now preparing to return for the franchise in The Matrix 4, which is starting filming this winter for a 2021 release with Carrie-Anne Moss and Yayha Abdul-Mateen II in the cast.

With a career like Pitt’s, there are a number of projects that he didn’t end up in—but the actor didn’t want to get too deep into that: “I come from a place, maybe it’s my upbringing, if I didn’t get it, then it wasn’t mine,” Pitt said said. “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.”

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“If we were doing a show on the great movies I’ve passed on, we would need two nights,” Pitt added with a laugh.

Here’s a look at Pitt during the on-stage conversation, speaking about his role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and working with Quentin Tarantino:

Pitt later spoke about the early days of his career when he wasn’t even in the Screen Actors Guild yet, when he added a line in a movie with Charlie Sheen while working as a waiter extra in a scene. (Funny enough, Pitt also won the Best Supporting Actor award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards this year.)

“I thought, I’m going to try it,” Pitt recalled. “And so I went, ‘Would you like anything else?’ And I heard the first assistant director go ‘Cut! Cut! Cut!’ And he said, ‘If you pull that again, you’re out of here.’ So I didn’t get (the SAG card) then.”

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Pitt also reflected on one of his first breakout roles, as a parole-violator/hunk in director Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise in 1991.

“That was the game, the big league, by giving me the part,” Pitt said. “I had nothing to show for myself, And they took a chance on me. They had gone through a few actors. They were already shooting. I think they were desperate. A week later, I was on set.”

Towards the end of the night when Pitt received the award, he spoke to the crowd about his career and how he got to this point: “It’s nights like this that tell me, I’m old,” Pitt said. “I’ve been around a while. I can’t stand night shoots anymore, I’ll gladly hand a stunt over to a stuntman. I no longer remember the first rule of ‘Fight Club‘. But it’s also a night where I feel really, really blessed.”

Here’s a look at Pitt’s speech after receiving the award:

Next up for Pitt will be starring in another Hollywood-related film, as he’s set to star with Emma Stone in La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s next film Babylon, which will be about the transition from the silent film era to the sound/talkie film era. Like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the film is expected to have both real-life and fictional characters.

Pitt mentions the new film here when speaking on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s red carpet:

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