One Star’s Matrix Audition Was So Bad, She Was Laughed At

Rosie Perez auditioned for The Matrix and did such a horrible job, she and the Wachioskis cracked up laughing.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

renee montoya the question
Rosie Perez in Birds of Prey

While the sequels provided diminished returns, 1999’s The Matrix revitalized action movies, giving us a cool, live-action anime aesthetic while cementing Keanu Reeves’ reputation for being an onscreen badass. Without that film, we would never have movies like John Wick, and Reeves would likely have a very different career. But not everyone had an excellent Matrix experience: Variety reports that Rosie Perez auditioned for the role of Trinity, but she knew even at the time that “I was horrible” and that “as I was walking out, I was like, ‘I know I didn’t get the job” because “I really sucked.”

We all were laughing. I just gave the Wachowskis a hug and I said, ‘Well, good luck with this.

– Rosie Perez on auditioning for The Matrix

The full context of this anecdote is that Rosie Perez was lamenting the racial prejudice she kept encountering in Hollywood while trying to secure roles that suited her acting talents. And make no mistake, she is quite talented: she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1994 for her performance in Fearless, but she wouldn’t have even been in the movie if director Peter Weir and fellow actor Jeff Bridges hadn’t fought the studio to keep her in the movie. But when it comes to The Matrix, racism wasn’t an issue…it was simply an audition that went sideways.

To hear Rosie Perez tell the story, the Wachowskis were all class when she bluntly told them how much her audition sucked, with the groundbreaking directors insisting the audition wasn’t bad. However, the casting director for the movie didn’t have a very good poker face, and she tried to contain laughter the first time Perez said that she sucked. At this point, Perez fixed the other woman with a stare, repeated “I really sucked,” and watched as she started uncontrollably laughing.

Rosie Perez in Your Honor

Fortunately, Rosie Perez was able to laugh at herself, both in the moment and to this day. After she made the casting director burst out laughing, everyone else present joined in. And her experience ended with Perez hugging the directors and wishing them the best of luck with their ambitious movie.

It’s interesting to speculate what would have happened if Rosie Perez got the role of Trinity in The Matrix rather than Carrie-Anne Moss. While Moss has had many non-Matrix roles, her most prominent was arguably starring as Jeri Hogarth in Jessica Jones. Meanwhile, Perez has done some amazing character work, but in an ironic twist, her most prominent recent role was playing Montoya alongside Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey, meaning that she and Moss took different paths only to land in high-profile comic book media.

These days, Rosie Perez has been busy focusing on her present career rather than simply lamenting over the roles that she didn’t get, but she still gets annoyed at getting offered “crack addict roles” (she is still an Oscar winner, and we don’t think anybody is going to be offering drug addict roles to recent winners such as Brendan Fraser or Michelle Yeoh). This year, we have loved seeing her in the Showtime series Your Honor alongside Bryan Cranston, and we hope she gets more meaty and dramatic roles in the future. She might have once been laughed at during an audition, but she has a serious resume of awesome performances and awards that, compared to most actors, is simply no laughing matter.