“It’s very predatory”: Before Keanu Reeves’ ‘The Matrix’, Sandra Bullock’s $182M Romantic Movie Had To Swap Gender After Original Script Creeped Out Everyone

One of the leading movie stars of her time, Sandra Bullock has always been a fan favorite. Following her captivating role in While You Were Sleeping (1995), the actress ended up bagging a Golden Globe for Best Actress for her outstanding performance in the $182M film.
Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock
But little do fans know that Sandra Bullock wasn’t the initial choice for the movie. While the movie was a big hit among the audience, it had to undergo several remarkable changes to reach its desired destination, including gender swapping for the lead roles after the original script creeped out everyone it was offered to.

Sandra Bullock’s While You Were Sleeping Directors Had To Change The Entire Plot

Sandra Bullock in a still from While You Were Sleeping (1995)Sandra Bullock in a still from While You Were Sleeping (1995)
According to reports, the initial movie plot was around a man who saves a woman’s life before she goes into a coma, with the woman’s entire family convinced that the man is her fiancée. However, this script didn’t seem too appealing to any of the stars the roles were offered to. Daniel G. Sullivan, who was a co-writer of the movie script, revealed,
“Nobody liked it. We went to Meg Ryan’s company and the development person there said, ‘Why would Meg Ryan want to do this movie? She’s unconscious the whole time.’”
Thus, they had to take the challenging decision of swapping the genders of the lead roles. Continuing, Fredric Lebow, the other screenplay writer said,
“Once we made that switch, everything worked. When a guy is sitting next to a brain-dead woman, it’s very predatory. But when you put a woman next to a guy, it’s sweet. We started calling it ‘Coma Guy,’ but everyone still passed until we took it to a producer named Arthur Sarkissian.”
But then there was the other big decision – whom to cast. Recalling the tense situation following the casting decision, producer Arthur Sarkissian said,
“There was Julia Roberts. There was Meg Ryan. There was Demi Moore. They were very big at the time, and I just couldn’t see any of those superstars being a person working in a toll booth. You just wouldn’t believe that.”

Then came Sandra Bullock in the picture, who was busy with the filming of Speed at that time. Contacting the studio for the lead role in the film saying she could relate to the storyline, Bullock recalled,
“I was an auditioning actor. This was the one thing that came along that I wanted so badly, not as a desperate actor, but just because the story was so sweet.”
Just like that, the $182M rom-com ended up being scored by Bullock, which gave her career the much-needed boost and attention she needed at the time.

This Wasn’t The First Time That Movies Had To Swap Genders For Sandra Bullock

Keanu Reeves in a still from The Matrix (1999)Keanu Reeves in a still from The Matrix (1999)
What’s surprising is that before While You Were Sleeping, Sandra Bullock was offered another blockbuster for which the directors were ready to swap genders of the lead role – The Matrix. Yes, you read it right. Revealing nearly 20 years after the movie’s first premiere, the producer said,
“We went out to so many people I don’t remember. We were getting desperate. We went to Sandra Bullock and said ‘We’ll change Neo to a girl.’ [Producer] Joel Silver and I worked with Sandy on Demolition Man and she was and continues to be a very good friend of mine. [But] It just wasn’t something for her at the time. So really it didn’t go anywhere.”
Nevertheless, the role of Neo found its true match – Keanu Reeves, who portrayed it so well that the film along with his reputation ended up becoming a huge success, gaining worldwide acclamation to date.

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